Return backers in the latest round include SBI Group, BEENOS, SoftBank Ventures Asia, Daiwa PI Partners and Digital Garage, all of which had previously backed Sendo’s $51 million Series B round in 2018.
The startup plans to use proceeds from the latest financing to expand its offerings and deepen its technology moat using AI and machine learning to enhance the overall consumer journey, said CEO Tran Hai Linh.
“While we have hit our annualised GMV target of $1 billion earlier than expected, we care much more about meaningful and sustainable GMV growth, which we believe has to come from consumer stickiness owing to a great shopping experience,” Linh said.
“Sendo’s strength in utilising the capabilities of its partners within the ecosystem has essentially created a win-win for merchants, 3PLs, advertising companies and financial institutions,” added Daniel Kang, senior partner and managing director at SoftBank Ventures Asia.
A spin-off of Vietnam’s largest IT services company FPT Corporation, Sendo focuses on the largely untapped tier-2 cities, home to 70 million Vietnamese consumers.
The company claims it has to date attracted more than 500,000 sellers with an estimated 17 million SKUs listed on its platform, as well as more than 12 million customers. It was also the first marketplace in Vietnam to secure an e-wallet licence. Its payment service, called Senpay, currently ranks third in terms of transaction value across the country, according to the company.
An e-commerce report by iPrice for the third quarter of 2019 showed that Sendo surpassed homegrown rival Tiki to become the second most downloaded app and second most visited e-commerce website in Vietnam. Sea Limited’s Shopee, a regional player, retained its leading position in the country.
Tiki, in response to the iPrice report, had said its web and app traffic in the third quarter saw a more than a two-fold growth year-on-year and pointed to a Nielsen report that said it had achieved the highest net promoter score (NPS) score — an indicator of the likelihood of its users recommending the platform to others — in September amongst e-commerce players in the country.
Tiki, which like Sendo has chosen to operate only in Vietnam, is a deep-pocketed rival, having raised around $75 million from Northstar Group and other investors. The round was believed to have been upsized to $100 million.
Vietnam is one of the two pacesetters in Southeast Asia – the other being Indonesia – in terms of its internet economy, which is growing in excess of 40 per cent a year, according to the e-Conomy SEA 2019 report by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain.
Driven by impressive e-commerce growth, the country’s internet economy is slated to touch $12 billion in 2019, with its gross merchandise value set to account for over 5 per cent of the country’s GDP, per the report.