Heaptalk, Jakarta – E-commerce is experiencing a great leap during the COVID-19 pandemic as shopping has become almost entirely virtual and online. East Ventures Digital Competitiveness Index (EV-DCI) 2021 reported that the growth in the e-commerce sector is exemplified through the entrepreneurship and productivity pillar.
SIRCLO, a leading e-commerce enabler in Indonesia, as reported from the East Venture release, contributes significantly to the growth of e-commerce in Indonesia. The company managed to help many businesses serve customers and improve the e-commerce sector that benefits all Indonesians.
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SIRCLO has contributed significantly to narrowing the digital economy gap between provinces. It helps to enable more regional SME products to participate in online retails at the national e-commerce level. SIRCLO’s presence in Indonesia’s province is expected to enhance digital competitiveness in other left-behind provinces.
Founder and CEO of SIRCLO Brian Marshall shared his personal story, which underpins his ambition to tackle e-commerce pain points in Indonesia.
The early story
Growing up in Bandung, Brian has noticed one thing in the retail business. His hometown, Bandung in West Java, is known as the shopping destination, especially with its famous factory outlets spread all over the city. Offline shopping was the thing, and people would spend hours shopping to live every bit of the experience.
Today, as technology becomes an inseparable part of lives, many brand owners from Bandung have become very digitally native, selling their unique products beyond the Paris Van Java.
“While computing was still seen as a far-fetched and advanced field back then, it has been particularly fascinating in witnessing how it has evolved today and becoming an integral part of everyone’s lives,” said Brian.
“We have become so accustomed to using technology for almost everything we do on a daily basis that technology has become so intuitive.” He continued.
The digital transformation in retail is not exclusive to Bandung. Indonesia, in general, has become increasingly acquainted with e-commerce, especially since the pandemic forced massive digital adoption.
The East Ventures Digital Competitiveness Index (EV-DCI) 2021 found that e-commerce has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in the past year. The growth of e-commerce is reflected in the increase of the ratio of the population using the internet for promotions, the increase of GRDP of warehousing, transportation, post, and courier subsectors, and the increase of the tech workforce (rising by almost 60%), particularly in e-commerce. Bank Indonesia’s data on e-commerce transactions during the second quarter of 2020 increased by 87% compared to the second quarter of 2019 by 36% from the first quarter of 2020.
The shift to online retail in Bandung has inspired Brian to start his own company in 2013. SIRCLO started out by observing many entrepreneurs and business owners who started to run their own small businesses. Most of them sold their goods through social media, which they didn’t offer a reliable platform for brand owners to sell their products and run a business online.
The mission of helping brands go digital
Since its founding, SIRCLO has evolved with the same mission of helping brands sell online. They offer various solutions. First, SIRCLO Store, a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that creates affordable template-based online stores for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). SIRCLO Store’s platform has now evolved to facilitate a multichannel management platform that is also equipped with an integrated dashboard and third-party integration for shipping and payment gateway.
Second, SIRCLO Commerce, a Channel Management Solution (CMS), has helped enterprise brands to enter online marketplaces since 2017. It leverages technology to synchronize sales across multiple channels and is also equipped with e-commerce fulfillment capabilities.
In the past two years, SIRCLO has sought opportunities for growth and to expand the range of solutions offered to brands strategically through omnichannel strategy — seamless integration between online and offline sales for brands to consumers. In 2020, SIRCLO and ICUBE merged with the purpose of providing more comprehensive technology and e-commerce services to a wider market in Indonesia. One year later, SIRCLO acquired Orami, the largest Indonesian parenting platform to boost social commerce’s potential through the latter’s large network of community.
Despite the rise of e-commerce users, Brian argues that Indonesians have a fondness for shopping at offline outlets, even as a means of refreshing. When they opt for online shopping, there’s another challenge on the logistics side of things, as the infrastructure is yet to be adequate to deliver a persistent online shopping experience across the nation.
Strategy to equalize the Digital Economy Distribution
Digital economy activities in Indonesia are mostly concentrated in Jakarta and other provinces in Java. As of April 2021, the majority of SMEs who utilize SIRCLO’s SaaS services are based in urban regions, including DKI Jakarta (40.5%), West Java (21%), East Java (7%), and Central Java (6.5%).
To tackle the challenge of logistics, SIRCLO aims to strengthen strategic partnerships with logistics companies. “As a fulfillment business, we also aim to open up additional fulfillment centers on more strategic locations to accommodate the increasing demands, letting technology and distribution retail sites work in synergy at the brands’ and consumers’ favor,” said Brian.