Ecommerce has exploded like a bomb all across Asia. But while the technology has brought big money to internet sectors throughout the region, it can also bring hassles for sellers who want to peddle their wares across a variety of markets. Each ecommerce site has its own system, so if you want to sell on a dozen different big ecommerce sites, that means you’ve got to learn a dozen different systems, and upload each of your products a dozen different times. Need to update a product description or the price of an item? You’ve got to log into 12 different systems to get it done.
That’s where Branch8 comes in. The Hong Kong-based startup offers ecommerce sellers access to a single platform that lets them list their products across a wide swath of ecommerce sites (right now, the list includes markets like Lazada, Amazon, Qoo10, eBay, Rakuten, Jumia, and more). Upload your product info once, and Branch8 will propagate it across all the various ecommerce platforms. Updating and delisting items is similarly simple. Plus, Branch8 also offers logistics and order management – the idea is that it can be a one-stop shop for ecommerce sellers, helping them to earn more money while saving them valuable time.
(Full disclosure: Branch8 is a Y Combinator startup, and so is Tech in Asia. See our ethics policy for more information).
The Branch8 team is small – just four people, co-founder and CEO Elton Chan told Tech in Asia. But the four all had experience in the Asian ecommerce market. Chan himself previously worked at Lazada, where he says he saw firsthand how listing across a variety of marketplaces was a big inconvenience for some of the company’s sellers. Co-founders Tim and Matt experienced this firsthand, having been Lazada sellers themselves who reached a ceiling on that platform but found it difficult and time-consuming to branch out into other markets.
Adding a product on Branch8
At least for the moment, Branch8 is monetized via a subscription system. Sellers pay monthly fees of between US$300 and US$600, depending on how many products they need listed and how many marketplaces they want to cover. (Interested sellers can start with a 60-day free trial before having to pay anything, though). The higher-tier subscriptions also offer more personalized service like 24-7 phone support and guaranteed email support within 24 hours.
Branch8 is certainly a promising concept, and Chan says that it has already signed up 800 sellers. But the startup knows that to continue growing, it will need to scale, so it is currently looking to raise a seed round to support the hiring of additional engineers and sales staff. There’s no doubt that the startup faces a difficult road ahead; there are sure to be sellers interested in Branch8’s services but navigating the red tape and vagaries of different ecommerce markets (and the local laws that govern them) while keeping hundreds of clients happy with such a small team is not going to be easy.
Then again, no one ever said doing a startup was easy. The Branch8 guys quit their jobs and went all-in on this business. Now, they’ve got to hustle to make sure that bet pays off.
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