The month-long period following Black Friday is easily the busiest time of year for logistics companies as they compete to deliver packages in time for the holiday season.
Now, the prosaic yet crucial industry in Southeast Asia is witnessing a new burst of rivalry amid a thriving e-commerce boom, as reflected in the rise of 'e-fulfillment' firms.
While the traditional logistics industry uses a business-to-business (B2B) model, e-fulfillment adapts logistics to the business-to-consumer (B2C) sphere of online shopping. As more brands sell their products online, they are increasingly outsourcing logistics to these third-party firms, who take care of everything from local customer service to delivery.
Southeast Asia is currently one of the fastest growing regions for e-commerce, with online retail revenues among the six member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) set to spike to $34.5 billion by 2018 from $7 billion in 2013, according to Frost & Sullivan.
But challenges such as the need for cash payments and high volume delivery are restricting growth.
By removing these logistics bottlenecks, e-fulfillment firms hope their services will enable more e-tailers to expand operations in the region. The past four years have spawned numerous firms competing for dominance in the niche market, including Anchanto, aCommerce, and Shipwire.