It takes just about five clicks to complete an online purchase, from filling your shopping basket to paying for your items and arranging for delivery.
But behind your computers and mobile phone screens, retail companies wrestle with a complex web of logistics to make sure these parcels arrive at your doorstep — in one piece and on time.
In 2014, siblings Clement Lee, 51, and Zanetta Lee, 44, formed Synagie Corporation with their friend Ms Olive Tai, 45, when they realised that businesses needed help navigating these processes.
The company offers firms end-to-end e-commerce services, from cataloguing and marketing to warehousing and lastmile delivery, as well as a cloud-based platform, powered by real-time data analytics and artificial intelligence.
It has more than 100 employees across five South-east Asian countries, and counts brands such as Johnson & Johnson and Shiseido among its over 280 customers.
E-commerce made easy
Synagie’s industry foresight has helped it to reap the benefits of South-east Asia’s booming e-commerce sector, which is on track to hit US$153 billion (S$213 billion) by 2025 — more than four times its current annual value. This is based on a 2019 report by Temasek, Google and Bain & Company.
According to a study by global research firm Statista and The Straits Times, Synagie is now the fastest-growing company in Singapore with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 340 per cent.
“It’s a huge market that is growing at a phenomenal speed,” said Mr Lee, Synagie’s chief executive officer.
“And selling goods and services online is especially important for Singapore companies because of our small domestic market.”
This is Synagie’s area of speciality. The company helps retail businesses to set up virtual stores on websites and online shopping platforms such as Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10. It also creates marketing strategies for these companies, based on the regions and audiences they are targeting.
“South-east Asia is a ‘jungle’, which means the strategy has to be different from country to country,” said Mr Lee. “We have experience writing compelling content, and use artificial intelligence to detect flaws, such as descriptions that are not attention- grabbing or emotional enough.”
One of the company’s key selling points is its role as an integrated “back office” for retail businesses. It helps to manage and automate value chains, overseeing everything from inventory management to last-mile deliveries, and provides data- driven insights to improve its clients’ businesses.
“For example, if people often buy snacks and soft drinks at the same time, we would suggest that some of our clients explore a cross-brand promotion,” he said.
From local to regional
Synagie’s easy-to-use services have helped it to expand its footprint across Asia.
In 2019, the company inked a number of partnerships with regional brands such as Lazada, Kosé and global sporting giant Amer Sports Malaysia to strengthen its foothold in the region. It plans to open a new office in Indonesia this year, adding to its bases in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.
It is also working with enterprise development agency Enterprise Singapore to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore go global through e-commerce.
The project will provide SMEs with end-to-end solutions, including business advisory, content development, big data analytics, cross-border warehousing and fulfilment, and will help companies to sell online in regional and international marketplaces, using Synagie’s cloud-based e-commerce platform.
“Our technological capabilities and regional network offer unique advantages to SMEs. We look forward to helping them manage and scale their businesses digitally across borders,” said Ms Tai, Synagie’s executive director.
Mr Lee added that Synagie plans to expand its market share in South-east Asia to better help companies prepare for the future. “We just created an entire department to help SMEs sell in other countries. We want to have a firm foothold in the region and we want our presence to be able to better serve our brand partners.”