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Indonesia’s Salim Group is planning a major foray into e-commerce this year in partnership with South Korea’s Lotte.
Indo Lotte Makmur, a 50-50 JV by the two conglomerates, will launch the iLotte online shopping platform as soon as July, putting US$88 million into the project initially. The service will be geared primarily toward women in their 20s and 30s, and feature name-brand cosmetics sold in South Korea as well as offerings from Lotte’s online mall.
A robust infrastructure built up over the course of years will let Salim achieve economies of scale for the e-commerce business, says Indo Lotte CFO Dani Sumarsono, who is overseeing online business at Indonesia’s largest conglomerate.
“E-commerce is not only about digital technology but about moving physical products,” he says. “We have been investing in infrastructure for a long time.”
Indo Lotte president, a former executive at Lotte’s e-commerce business in South Korea, says Salim has a lot of infrastructure, while Lotte can bring know-how and technology.
Indonesia’s e-commerce market is expected to grow to $46 billion in 2025 from just $1.7 billion a decade earlier, according to research by Google and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. Under this scenario, Indonesia would make up more than half of the total Southeast Asian e-commerce market and would follow China and India as the third-largest national market in Asia, excluding Japan. A doubling of internet users, from 92 million to 215 million, is seen as the driver of this expansion.
With chronic congestion of its major cities and a lack of basic infrastructure on its islands, Indonesia is an expensive market to service. Logistics costs are 27 per cent of GDP, compared with 20 per cent in Thailand and 13 per cent in Malaysia, according to the World Bank.
However, Salim’s 13,000-plus Indomaret convenience stores across Indonesia can be used as places to pay for and pick up goods ordered online. Meanwhile, a shipping unit that delivers instant noodles made by group member Indofood Sukses Makmur to more than 30,000 small towns nationwide can help bolster efficiency.
Salim has also created a JV with Tokyo-based startup Liquid to explore payments using fingerprint authentication, with credit-card ownership of less than one in every 10 adults in Indonesia. Liquid’s system allowing pre-registered shoppers to pay via fingerprint scanner has been deployed at Japanese convenience stores. The JV will test the system for 500,000 Salim employees initially and targets commercial application within the year.
Meanwhile, another Indonesian conglomerate, Lippo Group, is developing an electronic payment service for use on MatahariMall.com, which Lippo launched in 2015.