iprice, an e-commerce marketplace aggregator with its footprint in seven markets across Asia, is aiming to become an Asia-Pacific player.
The startup has Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand on its blueprint, although newly-appointed chief executive officer David Chmelař said this would transpire six to 12 months at the earliest.
“This is our mid- to long-term plan; there is still a lot of opportunities here (in our seven markets) to capture,” he said in an interview with DEALSTREETASIA.
The startup’s business model runs on bringing together partner e-commerce portals onto its platform, allowing users to easily find specific products from across various online shopping portals and coupon deals for the products.
iprice’s user reach has been increasing 10 per cent week-on-week, Chmelař said, with Malaysia’s growth taking the lead.
“Overall we are growing 10 per cent per week. Malaysia is our fastest growing market because we are based here and all our pilot offerings are tested here. But there is not a big difference (in Malaysia’s growth) compared with the other markets,” he said.
iprice’s platform receives over one million visits per month, across all the markets it is in, most of the traffic, Chmelař said, comes from Google searches. Collectively through partnerships with merchants, its aggregates 15 million products on its platform.
He noted that iprice’s gameplan is to become a consumer brand, distancing itself from the notion that it is solely a price comparison platform.
“We have the largest e-commerce affiliate network but what we really want to build is a consumer brand for online shopping, which we are confident we will achieve by the end of next year.”
To achieve that, the company has three points of focus – growing the number of visits per month, broadening its selection of merchants and creating a great customer experience on its platform.
Chmelař said as more goods become available online, there will be more online stores, which depicts the potential of iprice’s business. The startup has already partnered 150 merchants, who pay iprice a commission for traffic that comes via iprice’s platform.
“Our goal is to help customers with shopping intent to get the best deals for the specific products that they are looking for,” he said, giving an example of how a customer looking for a pair of red high heels can easily find a catalogue of that footwear – from various merchants – within the price range they set.
Aside from partnering merchants, iprice is also in talks with top digital publishers of the markets it operates in. It recently signed an exclusive partnership with REV Asia, a Malaysian digital publisher, to maintain and develop the coupons portals on four of REV Asia’s websites.
In a blog article on iprice’s website, it noted that almost half of its traffic either goes straight to, or ends up on one of iprice’s many coupon pages.
“While we can’t peg an accurate number on the exact size of the digital coupon market in the region, the numbers certainly do speak for themselves. Put that against aCommerce’s estimated 2015 ASEAN e-commerce market valuation of $7 billion, and the picture gets bigger. People want deals. People are searching for them. And people are certainly finding them online,” the article read.
Gearing for more growth in the seven markets that iprice is already set up in, the startup is currently finalising second round of funding.
It raised a pre-seed round in May 2015, of $550,000 from Asia Venture Group (AVG). AVG will also be part of the startup’s seed funding alongside other investors, but the firm declined to comment further on the fundraising.
Looking at the 12 months ahead, AVG managing director Kai Kux said the startup is aiming to “raise a sizeable Series A” in 2016.
Kux said that the pre-seed and seed funding rounds had been planned for iprice, to work towards preparing the business for Series A funding.
“We have been building the traction, and growing the merchant network. And now we are fully doubling-down on increasing traffic and growing our revenues to a size where (we can be ready for) a Series A,” Kux said.
iprice, which was founded by chief technology officer Heinrich Wendel, got Chmelař on board in October as a co-founder.
Chmelař brings with him e-commerce and managerial experience, from his days at Boston Consulting Group and the Wüstenrot Financial Group in his home country the Czech Republic.
“iprice has now grown to a company of 60 people, and it’s going to be 100 by the end of this year. I bring not only the e-commerce experience but also the managerial experience because we are becoming a sizeable organisation where we need to think of the culture of doing things, and setting up some basic processes and structures, in order to communicate consistently,” he said.