Alibaba’s Singapore unit enlists Uber, Netflix to lure customers

Alibaba Group Holding has created a loyalty program for online shoppers in Singapore that it may expand to other markets, teaming up with Uber Technologies Inc. and Netflix to lure customers.

It’s the first time Uber and Netflix have jointly created an online rewards program, said Maximilian Bittner, chief executive officer of Lazada Group SA, the Singapore-based e-commerce operator Alibaba acquired for $1 billion in 2016.

The trio’s LiveUp programme starts Thursday and links their services, from UberEats and Netflix to online grocer RedMart and Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace.

Consumers pay S$28 ($20) a year to get benefits such as six months of Netflix streaming, discounts on Uber rides and free delivery on Taobao or Lazada purchases. A mobile app will be rolled out in the second half of the year.

“Singapore is the market on the cutting edge of validating what we think consumers might want, so we will focus on Singapore first,” said Bittner, who expects to add more partners. He drew a comparison with code-sharing among carriers, which gives consumers a range of benefits like flight redemptions.

Alibaba and its US partners are betting on the growth of online retail in Singapore.

The city-state’s internet retailing market, which accounted for just 0.9% of total retail there in 2003, went from 2.4% in 2013 to 4.8% in 2016, according to data compiled by Euromonitor.

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Faced with the prospect of Amazon making a big push into Southeast Asia, Lazada has been seeking ways to defend its slice of the region’s e-commerce market.

Bittner and RedMart co-founder Vikram Rupani hatched the loyalty programme over breakfast on Christmas Eve before approaching Netflix and Uber to get involved. “Their decision to do it was very fast because they have the same goal,” Bittner said.

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