Four years ago, e-commerce barely figured into its bottom line. Today, it accounts for more than a quarter of the group’s revenues, which have grown by 60 percent during that same period.
Others are taking notice. Last year, Alibaba paid $250 million for a 10 percent stake in SingPost. Alibaba and SingPost are now in discussions to form a joint venture focused on e-commerce logistics in Southeast Asia.
SingPost began using the Internet as a laboratory in the early 2000s. It dabbled in various parts of the supply chain, first delivering goods from American shops to Singaporean homes. It then tried selling products on its own homegrown platform. It even dipped into the luxury goods market, starting a website called Clout Shoppe.
Then, two years ago, SingPost made its biggest digital push, creating SP eCommerce to tap into the Internet retail boom in Asia. Today, it counts nearly 1,000 companies as clients, including Philips, Uniqlo, Deckers and Muji.
The grocery business is plagued by notoriously slim margins. The trade group Food Marketing Institute estimates the supermarket industry as a whole turned in a 1.3% net profit after taxes in 2013 on $620 billion in sales.
Those numbers haven’t stopped venture capitalists like Mr. Mortiz from taking a chance again. “After our experiences with Webvan and the electroshock therapy we needed, none of us thought we’d venture ever again into the grocery business,” said Mr. Moritz, who sits on Instacart’s board. “The one thing we were very right about is that if there is an easy and reliable way to order groceries from home, the demand will be insatiable.”
Inc Magazine on 5 things we can learn from the vibrant German SME market including their supply chains and factories:
“U.S. manufacturers are already customer focused: There's less to learn from Germany on that score. What's interesting, though, is the extent to which the Mittelstand's customer orientation benefits these companies in their roles as buyers. Most companies I visited procure machines, parts, and other products from their compatriots. At least 80 percent of Igus suppliers are Mittelstand companies, according to Artur Peplinski, vice president of international group development. "We ask a lot from our suppliers, so they have to understand our standards and requirements," he says. "Having the Mittelstand makes it easier for us to fulfill our promises to customers."”
“Igus, on the outskirts of Cologne, is another global player, but there's nothing bonsai about it. Founded in a garage in 1964, the company employs more than 2,000 people, and its modular factory has been expanded seven times. Towering yellow pylons sprout from the roof at the juncture of each module, stabilizing the structure so that panels, which substitute for concrete walls, can be reconfigured on the basis of demand.”