SME Featured Southeast Asia

Zilingo launches new solution in PH for digitization of SMEs’ distribution

Manila, Philippines – B2B tech platform Zilingo which offers commerce solutions to businesses and retailers, has launched Zilingo Digitize in the Philippines. The new solution is a cloud-based SaaS to help brands & distributors digitize their distribution needs. 

Zilingo Digitize adds to the line of product offerings of the tech platform which includes, among others, Zilingo Trade, which aims to bring a seamless process in the bulk-buying and -selling of ready-made (RMG) and made-to-order (MTO) goods as well as Zilingo Factory, an MES software for the garment industry that helps factories increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Shiela Mauricio, the platform’s country manager in the Philippines, said that Zilingo is reimagining the entire supply chain and is aggregating all parties within the same platform by offering services and software that can help businesses do better. 

“This has been the brand’s focus since day one,” Mauricio said.

Meanwhile, Dhruv Kapoor, the co-founder & CTPO of Zilingo, said that the company remains committed to bringing new tools, technology, and innovation that will unleash the entrepreneurial spirit in the Philippines, boost exports from the country and build greater supply chain transparency to reduce cost and wastage.

“With the internet and technology becoming an integral part of our lives, we see a massive opportunity to empower MSMEs across the country and Zilingo is dedicated to being a catalyst for progress and innovation,” said Kapoor. 

The platform further comments that with its direct access to raw material suppliers, manufacturers, and brands, it is able to offer MSMEs the means to achieve product quality, quantity, and availability, and better pricing models.

Main Feature Marketing APAC

Why B2B digital marketing needs a unique approach

You might think that marketing is the same whether you’re targeting consumers or other businesses, however, it’s important to approach B2B marketing with a tailored approach. Businesses and organizations have different motivators for end-user consumers and often require a unique strategy around messaging, positioning, and creative.

Target audiences in the B2B space are making major purchases and partnership decisions on behalf of their organization. The money they spend isn’t their own, so they are often more price-sensitive while seeking a product or service that they can trust. Time and efficiency are important to them, and so the path to purchase should be as frictionless as possible.

Here are the top 3 things we recommend when shaping your B2B digital marketing strategy.

Always testing

Testing is vital for identifying niche target audiences. While you may choose to test what you already assume, it can also help to uncover new opportunities and learnings. Channels, messaging and targeting can all be investigated to optimize campaign performance. There should also always be some element of testing going on, whatever you do. It can be tempting to test early and run with it. However, macro factors, whether they be political, cultural, or technological changes, can influence purchase behaviors and so we recommend an ‘always on’ testing approach.

Clear frameworks to test and learn, in order to identify what is being tested, is highly important. As an agency, Agnes Media builds rigorous testing frameworks to ensure insights are robust and reliable.

The B2B digital media landscape can be competitive and expensive to play in. When each purchase is major, leads become more valuable. Testing helps to mitigate costs by providing constant feedback and creating a more targeted approach. Opportunities can be identified so that media spend is more finely tuned.

Ensure your brand is always testing whether it’s a new channel, tactic, style of messaging, or creative format to ensure you are always maximizing efficiencies from your budgets while identifying what resonates with your audiences. This will then improve ROI, provide valuable insights for the wider business that can be applied elsewhere while driving business growth and market share.

Know where to be

Content is key to ensuring your brand is front and center during the discovery phase of your prospects. B2B customers are usually very busy decision-makers, so it is important you’re providing quality content and engaging them by using the right channels. Regardless of the industry, trade publications can play an important role in reaching your core audiences. These sites are often connected to engaged social media profiles and mailing lists, meaning your message has a greater chance of being seen and remembered.

Customized content can be developed that aligns your brand to the needs of your audience. There are a variety of content syndication partners we recommend who put your branded content in front of a highly targeted audience and generate relevant leads in the process

Link in the sales team

For most B2B performance campaigns, the data ends once a lead is generated and the sale continues offline. It’s common for this lead to then be owned by a person in the sales team. To get the most out of your campaign, it’s vital that a process is established for getting sales team feedback, so that manual optimizations can be made. 100 leads that are wrong are less valuable than one high quality lead that is spot on.

It is further worth noting that due to the value of one lead, media budgets need to align with this. If a lead is worth $10k to a brand then that business should invest more than $10k to seek multiple leads and the CPL (cost per lead) will decrease over time.

The best way for connecting lead generation feedback to sales is to utilize a scorecard and to manually update it. For example, downloading a whitepaper might be automatically worth +10, but having a phone call with someone who has registered their details and finding out they are the decision maker in their business should be scored even higher. When the sales team are encouraged to share feedback on leads generated through digital channels it ultimately benefits them as their leads will only get stronger and stronger, as the marketing channels are optimized to drive the greatest outcome.

Marketing to business customers requires a unique approach. It’s tempting to apply a comfortable B2C strategy to your business campaign, however, this is expensive and inefficient. From capturing their attention to generating and nurturing the lead, B2B campaigns need to consider the attitudes and behaviors of both key decision makers and influencers and how these differ from a B2C prospect.

This article was written by Charlotte Ward, director of Agnes Media.
Agnes Media is a measurement-first marketing agency that drives profitable business outcomes through effective and data-based marketing efforts️.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Singapore’s Keepital becomes a channel partner at

Singapore – Keepital, the one-stop provider of design, IT, and marketing & advertising services for all industries, has partnered with Alibaba as a global service partner to enhance Keepital’s support for local businesses beyond Singapore. Keepital said its aim is to connect businesses and suppliers in Singapore to the rest of the world. is the flagship e-commerce of the Alibaba Group. It owns one of the biggest global marketplaces in the world with its vision ‘Global Buy, Global Sell’, empowering goods to travel globally and for merchants to trade freely. Keepital now as an authorized channel partner will share in the goal of helping small businesses sell their goods around the world. Keepital is one of the only two authorized channel partners of the e-commerce in Singapore, together with e-commerce consultant, Innovative Hub. 

Keepital believes that the partnership will support the next stage for businesses as digitalization becomes a crucial strategy in times of the pandemic. Traditional methods will no longer be enough to sustain and grow the business, most especially for cross-border enterprises. 

Online platforms such as have become the leading way to easily achieve global reach as well as local and regional. earlier launched in June an initiative to bring more B2B SMEs in Singapore on board, which is its first such initiative in the Asia-Pacific region outside Greater China.

Aside from Singapore, Keepital also operates in Malaysia and Thailand.

Marketing Featured APAC

B2B e-commerce group in China, ZALL, aims for global name with strategic rebrand

Singapore – Chinese B2B e-commerce group, ZALL Smart Commerce Group (ZALL), is eyeing to become the world’s leading global digital trade platform with its new strategic rebrand. The group aims to bring an open and interconnected B2B trading ecosystem between China and ASEAN.

ZALL currently serves around 30 B2B platforms in China, the United States, and Singapore, as well as millions of SMEs worldwide. It has also been investing in the development of next-generation intelligent trading platforms to help empower seamless data exchange across platforms integrating information, logistics, and capital flows across wholesale and commodities, retail trade, and logistics industries in China and Singapore.

The strategic rebranding aims to drive the rapid growth and development of industries and businesses through the use of its new trading methods and advanced technologies across B2B transactions, supply chain services, and digital cloud services. It also seeks to transform industrial value chains across Asia and enable businesses to improve overall efficiency.

Peter Yu, ZALL Smart Commerce’s executive vice president for Singapore, shared that as the world continues to adapt and rise up to the challenges posed by the pandemic, they wanted to focus their efforts on digital innovation, creating an even more resilient and sustainable global trade and supply chain ecosystem.

“This can be done by incorporating data and digital technologies into every part of the industrial value chain, from both the demand to the supply side. With our expertise in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Blockchain, we believe we are well-positioned to help businesses worldwide adopt innovative technologies to succeed in the new digital world order,” said Yu.

Just recently, ZALL announced the launch of ‘Z-Block Gateway’, a blockchain Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) solution that is both low-code and easy to operate and deploy across various industries and mainstream cloud servers.

The group has also recently partnered with one-stop global trading platform, Commodities Intelligence Centre, to offer ‘Know-Your-Counterparty’ and ‘Credit Info’ services to help SMEs manage their business risks by being able to verify and conduct due diligence on prospective business partners and counterparties before engaging in official dealings.

SME Featured APAC

B2B marketplace Proxtera expands global network by joining SAP’s Ariba Network

Singapore – In its bid to make its client Asian SMEs reach a global network, business-to-business (B2B) marketplace Proxtera has announced that it will be joining Ariba Network, a global digital business network owned by technology company SAP.

Through the network endeavor, Proxtera will now be part of one collaborative, intelligent, global business network with access to new demand channels to grow its business in an increasingly digital and networked economy.

This recent endeavor by Proxtera aligns with the company’s goals to connect over 350,000 SMEs to new trading partners across a growing list of countries in Asia including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and India. With each trade, Proxtera envisions to offer a host of integrated digital tools and services that helps marketplaces, platforms and SMEs more quickly, access, evaluate and act on business opportunities.

“Proxtera’s mission is to enable SMEs around the world to thrive in the new normal of the digital economy and access new trade opportunities previously thought out of reach. Proxtera aims to help SMEs as they recover from the impact of the pandemic and to bring us one step closer to an open, more collaborative future where businesses of all sizes, including SMEs, have great trade opportunities afforded to them as a traditional corporate ecosystem,” said Lim Kang Song, chairman at Proxtera.

Meanwhile, Paul Marriott, president at SAP Asia Pacific Japan, commented, “It’s clear that no business does business alone. This is part of our broader vision to reimagine how businesses, including SMEs, can collaborate with a network of global trading partners across supply chains, economies, and industries, and empower companies to move faster and smarter than ever before.”

As part of its network endeavor, Proxtera is currently developing Proxtera Plus for its network of 350,000 businesses and SMEs. Proxtera Plus aims to provide a smooth search, product match, and transaction experience for large buying organizations with a deep and diverse range of buyers and sellers from wholesale e-commerce platforms across Asia via Proxtera’s trade network of marketplaces, for example, Eezee, GlobalLinker, SGeBiz, and Sourcesage 99SME B2B. 

In addition, it also aims to help with compliance of purchases against internal corporate policies and enable quick digital approvals. Proxtera Plus is intended to make closing purchases accessible, supported with secure payment rails and integrated fulfillment options.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

PH-based B2B e-commerce enabler GrowSari raises more than US$30m in funding for expansion

Manila, Philippines – GrowSari, a local-born business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce enabler, has recently concluded its Series B funding, where it has collected more than US$30m in funding, which will be used to expand its services across clients nationwide.

Said funding was led by Gokongwei-led listed Philippine retailer Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. (RRHI) and JG Digital Equity Ventures, as well as Wavemaker Partners. Other participants included Pavilion Capital, a Singapore-based investment company focused on Southeast Asian and North Asian economies Tencent, China’s leading technology company, International Finance Corporation (IFC) a member of the World Bank Group, ICCP SBI Venture Partners, and Singapore-based growth fund Saison Capital.

GrowSari is a tech-enabled B2B platform that outfits Philippine sari-sari store owners with inventory, infrastructure, and tools to manage and grow their business while generating crucial data and market insights for manufacturers and distributors. 

For context, sari-sari stores in the Philippines are generally defined as mom-and-pop neighborhood stores in the country, and are considered the backbone of the local economy in their respective communities.

There has always been a great significance and dependence to sari-sari stores in the country, as around 84% of Filipinos purchase essential goods at the over 1.1 million stores across the country, with 60% of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) shopper spending happening in such stores. These sari-sari stores are hyper-proximal, with 90% of consumers having a store less than 100 meters away from their home. On average, consumers transact twice a day from their nearest sari-sari stores.

GrowSari primarily aims to tap into the sari-sari store’s potential to be the biggest and most accessible distribution channel in the Philippines by driving efficiencies in route planning while collecting valuable insights on store behavior. 

Through its app, sari-sari stores can double their earnings through access to better pricing for more than a thousand of fast moving sari-sari store stock keeping units (SKUs) from the largest brands across all the major FMCG categories. This is in addition to microfinancing support and assistance, and multiple e-services including telco, bills payment and remittance. 

This objective is supported by its co-founder, ER Rollan, who states that the company aims to empower and significantly increase the earnings of sari-sari stores in the Philippines by providing direct access to a wide assortment of affordable products, e-businesses, and financial assistance.

“With the fresh funds, we aim to more than double GrowSari’s existing coverage and service more than 300,000 sari-sari stores, including those in Visayas and Mindanao. This will also help us broaden our supplier marketplace with new third-party partners and scale our financial service pilots,” Rollan said.

Meanwhile, Siddhartha Kongara, CTO at GrowSari, commented, “Through GrowSari, we want to use proprietary technology to accelerate financial health for Filipino sari-sari store owners, helping them to use, protect, and grow their business in the long run and transforming sari-sari stores into comprehensive service hubs for the Philippines’ grassroots communities.”

SME Featured APAC

Axiata’s B2B unit ties up Google Cloud for new bundle for SMBs

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Axiata Enterprise, the business-to-business (B2B) arm of Malaysia-based telecommunications group Axiata, has announced a partnership with Google Cloud in order to help accelerate digital adoption across companies and small-medium businesses (SMBs) across Asia.

The implementation will come in the form of offering Google Workspace as part of their integrated ICT portfolio and solution bundles to small and medium businesses (SMBs). Telecoms across Axiata’s group will spearhead the implementation, with Dialog in Sri Lanka leading the initiative, and with implementation scheduled for Q2 this year.

This will be followed by Celcom in Malaysia, XL in Indonesia, Robi in Bangladesh, Ncell in Nepal, and Smart in Cambodia by the second half of the year.

Axiata’s digital telcos will also continue to leverage Google Cloud’s core compute, storage, and networking capabilities to modernize their infrastructure and drive their digital transformation initiatives. 

Said initiative comes in retrospect to the fact that Asia is home to over one million SMBs all looking for the best possible way to tap the immense opportunities in some of the world’s fastest growing Internet economies. Axiata’s controlling interests in six mobile operators cover over 157 million mobile subscribers across its footprint. 

“Axiata and Google Cloud have a shared vision of helping businesses digitize and grow as they build greater resilience for the long haul. With nations increasingly stepping up on digitalization for economic recovery and growth, we stand at a critical juncture to support businesses, especially small and medium players in their efforts to adjust and adapt to new digital norms for survival,” said Gopi Kurup, CEO at Axiata Enterprise.

He also added that the power of Google Cloud’s advanced technologies combined with Axiata’s market intelligence enables companies to access advanced tools to boost their collaboration and productivity and generate data-based insights to strengthen their evolving customer engagement strategies.

Celcom, which is under the Axiata Group, is leveraging Google Cloud’s infrastructure and solutions as well to run its payment gateway and advance its modern digital customer journey. The Malaysian telco also has plans to use Google Cloud’s AI tools to build personalization and recommendation models to further enhance customer experience. 

Ruma Balasubramanian, managing director of Google Cloud in Southeast Asia, said, “To resource-strapped SMBs, cloud technology is a game-changer that enables them to compete with larger players in the market. We’re thrilled to partner with Axiata to accelerate the digital transformation of millions of companies in the region, and help them solve their complex business and technology challenges.”

Marketing Featured Global

Enero acquires B2B sales agency MBA to expand Hotwire reach

Sydney, Australia – Enero, a boutique network of marketing and communication businesses, has recently acquired McDonald Butler Associates (MBA), a UK-based business-to-business (B2B) sales agency, through its global technology communications agency Hotwire.

Aligned with the Group’s global strategy to scale and expand the digital capabilities of its core agency brands, including Hotwire, BMF, and Orchard, the acquisition of MBA will add account-based marketing and channel marketing expertise and experience to Hotwire’s communications pedigree in the UK and globally. 

The acquisition will see MBA and Hotwire’s UK offices operate under the Hotwire brand led by Global Hotwire CEO Barbara Bates. Maeve McDonald and Mike Butler, founders of MBA, will take on the UK roles of managing consultant account-based marketing and marketing managing consultant respectively, 

They will be reporting to UK managing director and global leadership team member, Tara O’Donnell. This brings Hotwire UK’s headcount to more than 100 and more than 300 globally.

Barbara Bates, global CEO at Hotwire, said, “By adding MBA’s extensive account-based marketing and channel marketing experience, Hotwire will deliver a new level of communications programs designed to build brand reputation, strengthen stakeholder relationships and deliver revenue growth.”

McDonald Butler supports a strong client roster of technology clients including: Accenture, Adobe, AWS, Citrix, Dell Technologies, Deloitte, DXC Technology, Honeywell, IBM, Pegasystems, and PWC, which compliments Hotwire’s existing tech clients.

Maeve McDonald, CEO at MBA, said, “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for both MBA’s clients and our team. Both MBA and Hotwire have been dedicated to helping technology companies solve their most pressing business and communications challenges. Now we have a great opportunity to offer a wider range of communications, lead generation, and digital marketing services to our clients globally.”

Meanwhile, Brent Scrimshaw, CEO at Enero Group, commented that their acquisition of MBA reflects not only the group’s strong momentum and ambition, but their commitment to delivering on their global strategy of building scale and additional digital capabilities of their core agency brands.

“Hotwire is already one of the world’s most highly-regarded enterprise tech specialist communication businesses and we have no doubt that adding MBA’s specific sales and marketing expertise and complimentary client roster will unlock new possibilities of growth in a priority market like the UK,” Scrimshaw stated.

He added, “Enero’s investment will give Hotwire clients access to new capabilities and provide MBA’s clients access to a progressive global network, offering an even wider set of communications disciplines.”

Main Feature Marketing APAC

Reasons why manufacturers, distributors won’t sell online

The internet and social media transformed the way we do business where conducting transactions online has become the ‘new normal’ for buyers and sellers. However, there are manufacturers and distributors who are still reluctant to list their products and services in online marketplaces which is now a necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic may have forced some companies to set up their own e-commerce operations or sell their products in marketplaces. But most marketplaces they know are designed for retail and are not capable to handle business-to-business transactions. Purchasing officers want the best prices for their procurement requirements, but you can’t attract them with rebates, vouchers, or free delivery.

We’ve been talking to manufacturers and distributors who shared with us the common reasons why they remain reluctant in getting listed in online marketplaces. Below are their common responses:

• They don’t want to upset their existing clients.
• They have a tight-knit distribution channel.
• They already have a dedicated sales team.
• They are afraid of the competition.
• They don’t want to disclose prices.
• They think it’s costly.

They don’t want to upset their existing clients. Some manufacturers would argue that they don’t need online marketing because they already have a strong business relationship with their clients for the long term. They think that disrupting the process might break that relationship. Marketplaces, on the other hand, can improve that relationship by providing more transparency and efficiency.

They have a tight-knit distribution channel. Like the relationship manufacturers have with their customers, they also have a close relationship with their logistics provider that runs like clockwork. Marketplaces can be configured to select which logistics provider they prefer and can offer tools that can provide more efficiency in the supply chain. While B2C marketplaces have a few logistics partners, B2B marketplaces are more flexible and can be integrated with any logistics partner selected by the supplier.

They already have a dedicated sales team. Sales representatives are a channel for customers – but it’s not the only channel. Distributors can easily expand their reach by bringing their business online. And even before potential customers would meet with sales rep, they will do some research online.

They are afraid of the competition. Marketplaces are a great tool for competitor research. Manufacturers shouldn’t be afraid to be compared with their competitors. Buyers now are more informed and will be able to tell which suppliers have the best products with better prices.

They don’t want to disclose the prices. B2B companies have a different pricing model which can vary for each customer. Unlike retail marketplaces like Lazada or Shopee where prices have to be shown, B2B marketplaces are better at handling wholesale pricing and can be negotiated.

They think it’s costly. Traditional marketplaces can be costly because they rely on commission and transaction fees. Modern marketplaces are shifting to a subscription model that provides suppliers better tools at a lower cost.

This article was written by Jeff Clarenz Turla, Co-founder and CTO of Burket.

Burket (business + market) is a platform to connects buyers and suppliers, digitizes procurement, and facilitates business-to-business (B2B) transactions.
SME Featured Southeast Asia

B2B marketplace Proxtera, escrow service Tazapay team up for boosting SME reach

Singapore – Business-to-business (B2B) marketplace Proxtera and digital escrow service Tazapay are teaming up in launching a new SME-catered solution called ‘Proxtera Protect, Powered by Tazapay’ to provide international buyers and sellers with a secure and protected payment service to streamline global trade.

Initially available to SMEs in Singapore and India, the new solution allows Tazapay to provide a digital escrow service for both buyers and sellers connected via participating platforms on the Proxtera network. Through the new solution, SMEs will be able to complete transactions through the secure escrow payments service, providing both buyers and sellers with a critical layer of protection and confidence when doing business with a new partner.

‘Proxtera Protect, Powered by Tazapay’ responds to the issue that new trading partners have not been able to meet to build trust, causing an increased number of deals to fall through and lost time and resources on both sides. Tazapay solves this problem by offering secure digital background checks and an escrow service to hold funds until such time that both parties have confirmed delivery and receipt of the goods. Proxtera Protect also ensures that monies are returned should shipments not arrive.

For Rahul Shinghal, CEO of Tazapay, their recent partnership with Proxtera speaks to resolving the ongoing issue among SMEs that are restricted from growing their number of trading partners.

“Proxtera is similarly focused on providing SMEs with options and tools that allow them to work with a wide range of business partners and drive growth. We’re pleased to power Proxtera Protect and grow alongside Proxtera as both entities focus on their missions to elevate the local economy by empowering SMEs with global trade opportunities,” Shinghal stated.

SMEs can join the Proxtera network via its e-commerce platform partners to benefit from new business opportunities. Upon identifying a potential opportunity, they can leverage Proxtera Protect, powered by Tazapay’s market leading infrastructure to finalize the escrow terms and subsequently make and receive payments securely.

Meanwhile, for Shirish Jain, program director at Proxtera, the partnership means aligning also with their mission of unlocking new trade and business opportunities for SMEs around the world. 

“Proxtera Protect, Powered by Tazapay is a critical component to bridge the trust gap that hinders cross-border trade. With the addition of trusted partners such as Tazapay, Proxtera can deliver on its promise to provide SMEs a wealth of business tools and opportunities at their fingertips, opening up pathways to growth and driving economic recovery to help businesses thrive in the ‘New Normal’,” Jain stated.