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Shoplus Aims To Be the Next Big Data Driven And AI-Enabled Tool For Merchants Sega Cheng, CEO and co-founder of iKala, plans to expand the vision of supporting startups which merely relied on physical work mechanism

By Jyoti Valecha

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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In these tough times of COVID-19, Sega Cheng, CEO and co-founder of iKala, is all set to expand the vision of supporting startups which merely relied on physical work mechanism. With his core idea to incorporate the essence of artificial intelligence, Cheng talked how the organization is making difference in the southeast Asian market and across the world.

With the assistance of AI used in Shoplus, digital footprints of influencers are analyzed according to their performance. This process involves evaluation of influencers based on their photos and posts on social media networks by iKala. This analytics data in turn helps brands and marketers to plan the budget of an influencer for influencer campaigns. The organization is partnering with Google, Facebook, Ted Talks, Instagram and other reputed tech companies for data analysis. In fact, the considerable growth of customer acquisition rate is the popular trend in the market. Even though, it is hard to focus on content due to its lesser duration, yet, influencer marketing acts as the ideal option to acquire customer effectively.

Utility of AI in business metrics post pandemic

Currently, digital transactions are preferred besides traditional e-commerce marketplaces. According to Cheng, activities such as shopping, chatting and completing transactions are being carried out through social media network. This in turn is new customer behaviour embraced by consumers after COVID-19 spread across the world. Statistically speaking, over 47 per cent time on social networks which signify their modern approach towards life after the pandemic. As a result, this behaviour has led to the growing demand of tool which broadens the scope of ecommerce on social network. Furthermore, advertisers reached out to iKala team to explore tool pertaining to ecommerce on the social network.

The team emphasized on the utility of its app called Shoplus compatible with iPhone and android devices. This app is designed for merchants to connect with fan pages and manage them entirely, Be it payment, logistics or customer service functions, the merchants can yield the most out of this app to attain their business objectives. Sega shared there are over 140, 000 merchants in associated with him and the social commerce tool Shoplus in Southeast Asia.

Customer behaviour and data accessibility through app

Shoplus enables the merchants to contact prospective customers and know them better. The backup of conversation and discussion carried out with the customers are recorded for the reference of merchants. Hence, there are no second thoughts about the prevalence of conversational commerce in the coming years. The whole concept is intended at offering insights of customers to these merchants through messenger and social network directly. The data of conversation in the messenger is collected and provided to the merchants. This is indeed the smart way for them to serve customers according to their requisites.

Addressing the challenges and verification of customers

At present, partnering with financial institutions to ascertain identity and legitimacy to sell on social networks is topmost vision of iKala. Cheng informed that his team has tied up with some of the prominent banks in Taiwan and Thailand to exchange KYC (Know Your Customer) data. This step was aimed at reducing the risk of fake stuff or illegal goods being sold on the social networks.

The strategic planning to implement these initiatives are being executed by the iKala team with banks to prevent any unethical practice of selling online.

Business opportunities and journey ahead…

The number of conversations happening across the world and their essence on social networks make up for metrics for iKala. These metrics further help the team to evaluate the countries to be focused on primarily. Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines are among the major countries being focused on in Southeast Asia due to their conversation quality. The number of conversations of these countries on social network is comparatively bigger on a daily basis.

In terms of business prospects, the merchants are likely to target clothing, personal care goods cosmetics and seafood due to their demand. Undoubtedly, the trend of selling through social network is sustainable which clearly proves to be a trend due to pandemic.

Funding tips for upcoming startups

Pragmatic approach and being optimistic about products of the startup must be aligned together by young entrepreneurs. They should focus on value creation and adopt problem solving approach. Moreover, the startup founder should emphasize on value capture from customers in order to raise funds successfully.

Role of influence to market products & services

The data driven methodology of Shoplus determines the type of influencer campaign and other parameters to promote products & services. As a part of this methodology, the requisites of businesses or marketers are considered prior to strategizing influencer program on social network. The vast database of influencers is presented before advertisers to help them in shortlisting the right one for their business promotion campaigns. On the other side, the shortlisted influencers are contacted to seek their consent before the initiation of short promotional content on social network.

Sega simplified and added, "We are the matchmakers between brands and influencers to keep the two of them engaged." Amidst all the preparations & objectives, the iKala team is keeping uncertainty and grabbing opportunities on the same hand to sustain in the market. Keeping challenges aside, the organization is positive about rewarding future.

Jyoti Valecha

Feature Writer

Jyoti has a rich flair of writing. She writes on all genres irrespective of their varied types. She offers  the most authentic and realistic content pieces. She has been writing from over past 5 years and keeps readers engaged. 


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