EP 269 – Axel Winter – co-Founder at Pivot Digital – Sometimes It’s Also Good to Partner With a Frenemy

by | Apr 12, 2023

Nobody in Thailand may understand the eCommerce market more than Axel Winter, a co-founder and the CEO of Pivot Digital. ATP was fortunate to have an in-depth conversation with Axel about his background, experiences, and learnings.

Some of the topics Axel covered:

  • The benefits and drawbacks of different eCommerce business models
  • Building omnichannel retail at Central Group
  • JD and Central Group’s eCommerce partnership and strategy
  • What went wrong, what went right, and what was learned
  • Deep insights into the eCommerce market in Thailand
  • Finding the right balance between product selection and ease of discovery

Some other titles we considered for this episode, but ultimately rejected:

 
  1. Let’s Try to Shake the Tree
  2. I Always Had a Hang for Open Source
  3. In Life, We Tend to Gravitate to What We Actually Want
  4. I Think You Need Different Models
  5. Doing Good Things Is Always a Bit Hard
  6. It Never Stops. It Never Slows Down.
Read the best-effort transcript

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:05
Okay, we are on Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast today should be a special one, we are joined by Axel Winter, a co-founder at Pivot Digital Axel, thank you so much for coming on the show this morning. How are you doing?

Axel Winter 0:21
I’m doing very well, I happy to be here very long time talking about it. So, so glad that I finally made the list of all the interview members, the club members, you know, in your ranks, very happy to be here.

Michael Waitze 0:36
I’m super happy that you’ve agreed to do this, I cannot tell you how much I’m happy right now. And before we get into the main part of this conversation, why don’t we give our listeners that may or may not know you a little bit more of your background just for some context.

Axel Winter 0:51
Right. I mean, currently, currently, I as you said, I have this, let’s say tech advisory implementation type of business, pivot digital with two partners, one from Budapest, Hungary, who I know since 2008. And we have worked together in different roles. And another also good friend and partner in Vietnam. Forget together I think about six, seven years now. We help corporates to build digital businesses, because there’s a bit of a hybrid thing going on. As in you need to know the business entity, you cannot, you cannot really tear it apart anymore. And then I’m also Chief Digital Officer at CMP. What luxury mall operator in Thailand is about seven properties in Thailand, equivalent in Europe might be cut AV or, or you know, center. And I’m most engaged in the startup ecosystem in Thailand and to renewables as a partner. And as a coach.

Michael Waitze 1:55
I want to understand where the tech advisory comes from. And then I want to get into E commerce, because you’ve written a lot of stuff about that recently. You don’t just wake up one day and be like a tech advisor and build an advisory firm, it comes with years of experience, right? In other words, you see this happen, I’m sure where some dilettante will show up and say like, I’m going to be your digital transformation advisor, and they just don’t have the requisite experience to go through it. Can you talk about some of this stuff that you’ve actually built? Because that’s where the experience and the advisory stuff comes from? Right from the experience? Go ahead?

Axel Winter 2:25
Well, it is still building, right. I mean, it, you know, sometimes and you you’re quite apart on on some of the BS, which also happens, right? I mean, there are many good things. And I like to be well balanced. Right. And but but of course, there is also the crappy part across industries, which is happening and then and then sometimes it’s really not helpful to come in to public about these things. Right. I was actually for panel with over over drinks one evening saying, well, we should we should create kind of like an award, but a real award, not not these big awards, which a lot of Yeah, I mean, read awards, to really test apps to really look at the process behind the apps. And then and then say what is good, what is bad, right as in to credit, the ones who are really good, but may not be known for it. Yeah, versus the people who can create the hype right, again, so that that that may be something you and I can do.

Michael Waitze 3:22
One of the whole reasons for this show is to do exactly that, right, this idea of, I don’t want to promote hype, I’m not interested in it. I’m not interested in promoting myself at all, actually. But it’s more just like, I want to find the businesses that are out there that are actually building real things, and give them coverage and exposure, so that they can cut through the hype. Right, I would like to talk about this. One of my buddies on the trading desk was an engineer at Goldman Sachs once said to me that engineers job is really just to minimize noise and find signals. And that’s really what I’m trying to do here is just trying to find the people that have the signals, and eliminate the noise from the conversation around a whole bunch of places, whether it’s innovation, or startups or venture capital, where there’s so much noise and very few signals. So the fact that you’ve, you’ve said that actually I really appreciate.

Axel Winter 4:11
And it’s also it’s not only and negative. And he said it’s a positive where sometimes you have the not so well known apps out there well done in the market. I mean, really, they put the effort and sweat in and it’s really cool app, good offers and so on. I’m thinking big see in Thailand autowatch. Again, not to make advertisement but just more to say, Hey, did a good job there. Right? And, you know, whether you like that company or you shop there or not as a different question anyway, for me, actually, I have a business degree and way back and then I worked in the company of my my father’s property company in northern Germany, property agent business, you know, managing building of properties and so on. My brother is still at it, and I got so bored with this with these things. And then eventually The kind of checked out or sold out and then and then you know did computer stuff and it’s a bit crazy but But bear in mind I was 22 I took my I took my bags came to Thailand and don’t ask me why Thailand it just it just happens I mean I just I wish I had yeah this sophisticated story that I picked the best country in the world which I leave today it is that that time it was just kind of a bit of luck that that I came here and then I ran into some some super interesting people who also like building and doing things right and and I also had this again entrepreneurial assess the bit from from the family business and and kind of also like doing tech stuff, right. So I worked with different people I mean from Newbridge, northern Telecom, some of the r&d folks. And we created new things help setting up internet in Thailand actually amongst a few others. I remember Samad and Loxley being involved at the time with big effort, neck Tech was was also at the forefront. And we also were there to help some companies like Deutsche Bank, McCain, even IBM, because they didn’t have to scale in the country. I kept enjoying that, as it as it as it so often the partner one of the partners corporate partner in the in the team that didn’t kind of work out. And eventually we agreed to again to call this an end after I think three or four years wasn’t that short. And then I basically joined Accenture and Anderson Consulting 40,000 People then now I think seven or eight and 1000. Small Company comparatively. And it was the same it was for me being in this huge marketplace. And so consulting, doing partially selecting projects, clients to build stuff. So I did one of the first HP Compaq online the first direct sales platform for them or with them, Tony, I remember Sony as a client Hutchinson on hallway and so on. And that was fun, because things could happen. We could build things, we could do things, you know, and then work to GE Capital back in the region, or the CTO in Asia. Same story again, let’s try to you know, shake the tree, make it make it better, improve things. And global banking then became global chief architect for GE Capital Group, that after four years, it was too much politics for me. And the global role was is very this is this is again, it’s nothing against a specific company or person, obviously. But very big corporates, of course, at the top, there’s a lot of things going on there. And it’s less about shareholder value very often than more about personal agendas, unfortunately, not avoidable, and moved again, Deloitte Cisco, same creating stuff really some cool, good partners and clients I worked with came to Standard Chartered Bank, Global Chief Architect again 20. That was what 2011 At very fortunate to come in there, a friend of mine asked me for help directly, and helped to start at big data when Hadoop two came out. So this was kind of the foundation for what we know today as big smart AI data was that that open source framework, and instant shard, we started what in 2011 2012, end of 2012, we started playing with that stuff, and making making SunShot. Even today, one of the leading players in in data just just because by the merits, we started early, and I always had a hang for open source, and then came to central group, with the agenda with the colleagues in the business units to build a startup in the group, basically, to do omni channel enable the IPO of the retail unit. Work with JD grep and others. I did that for four years didn’t take a day off by the way.

Michael Waitze 8:57
I know I know that feeling. Yeah,

Axel Winter 9:00
it’s not it wasn’t my company. Well, I bought some shares, eventually, when they bought but but was my company still I had a feeling a passion for making this right for doing cool things. And the great part is, it sounds very similar to maybe some others like CP group and Stan char also. Because of the size, yeah, yes, so many things you can do. And there’s every day something new, right? Versus if you’re in a fairly, let’s say small, comparatively small business, then then it’s so much more difficult, right to me, because you focus to get one small thing very, very good. It’s a whole different problem to solve, right anyway. And then after four years, you know, next S curve, next journey, and then I again, and we keep in mind in life sometimes to gravitate towards what we actually want, right? There’ll be a push into a certain direction. We just don’t cognize it. And then I see your CMP watco would mean to be the CEO. And then as I said before, with all of this experience, a few friends, friendlies, colleagues connections, called me and saying, hey, help us here, help us there and help help us build good things. And not only the tech, but also the organization that came in house capability to strategy and so on. So we did this doing it for four people.

Michael Waitze 10:26
I love this. And it’s so interesting. Can you talk to me in a little bit more detail about what the environment was like? When a company as at the size of central says, We need to be more involved in omni channel we need to be we have all the resources, right. We have the warehousing, we have the customer connectivity, we have the suppliers, we have all the goods, we actually have the logistics around moving things from our own warehouses into our own retail shops, we have all these things. And yet, maybe we don’t have the technological chops to build it. But we can partner with a big company, like how do all these things come together? And when you’re in it every single day, what does that environment feel like when kind of anything is possible? And all the resources are there? And yet, it’s still really hard to do?

Axel Winter 11:12
Yeah, I mean, I mean, doing doing good things is always a bit hard. Yep. And what let’s say it takes takes effort and focus, or everyone will do it, right. I mean, that there’ll be there’ll be easy. And I thought that the when I came in, in February 2017, literally there was groups around the organization, I mean, different smaller teams here and there. And then I brought some of them together, restructure this a bit, and promoted promoted a talent and lesser talent. We encouraged to grow somewhere else. And then I thought what was good, was that we did day one. My boss said Zen CEO, later, CEO, then later president of Santa Clarita, he focused on day one on what is our strategy, right, what is the what is the kind of the 10 commandments and the strategy, which we the playbook, basically, which we move on? And that’s it. And then architecture, I mean, technical architecture that is operating model between developers and product managers and business users in there, then there is what is the business organization? Can this be done by the existing team? They are they are reporting into a separate omni channel leader or something, the business is their sales leader marketing, I mean, and so on, right. So we we I thought what was really strong was basically creating the blueprint that time. I mean, we started in February 2017. And we hammered this out. And I mean, this was, I mean, these were really senior people. This was not someone in the middle of creating PowerPoints. And then And then, you know, letting letting go through a boardroom. And you know, what a typical, begins a feeling, and then trying to hit it off there and whatever, go for it. And no, this was this was real top people of the group. I mean, the most senior folks who can imagine in in workshops, and not not only one hour of literally over six weeks to work this out. And that was that in itself was a memorable experience. And also good lessons learned. Right? And again, it was a global strategy, right? So central group today is obviously significant top player in Thailand, in Vietnam, and also the largest luxury retailer in Europe to my knowledge, and being across Europe, I mean, which is also a significant achievement. And that probably was one of the differentiators. And then as a next step, it wasn’t only that we created that strategy, but but surprised we actually followed it, right. See, that’s the second thing, because it’s easy. Sometimes when you google strategy, retail strategy, whatever banks, you probably get on the first page, even without share GPT you get probably the 10 most important things you need to think about, but but then executing it, right? It’s so much more difficult thinking about operating models and so on. That is difficult. So we went ahead, started and recruited people putting things into into place. Now the other thing which which I remember was vividly for better or worse, we had virtually weekly meetings and would as with with top press, and we would go through to progress right what’s happening what’s going on? How many did you hire, what’s the revenue like, you know, what sells? Well, what not selling doesn’t sell well both for new channels in online and there was some some nascent platform development of news and also offline and it gave signal nificant transparency to everyone, not only me, and vice versa, I shared and demise things. And that was no I was continuously for four years we have we had these weekly, sometimes even too many meetings, but issues will be decided right on the spot that also sometimes is uncomfortable, to be honest, right? Because I mean, when you you can imagine that also, maybe from your own business, when you go through this and say, well, there is a delay because of this, that and, and you know, people are not there or product information, or there’s some tech issue didn’t find the right sub team developer somewhere. I mean, whatever the reason, I mean, you know that million things every day, right? And then we would make decisions by them. And you can imagine, the good thing is, it never stops, it never slows down. The bad thing is it never stops. Because you’re right in front of it every day. And then the other thing also, I remember vividly from the beginning, the empowerment in in the group was quite significant. Meaning it’s like I have my own business unit or business which I can call run and run finance and HR, at least dotted line reporting to me trying to and to make on the spot fairly fast decision based on a budget, right, so So just think about that, that Ecosystm. And it’s a whole different ballgame then to go to meltdown, this typical resistance which You have for change because of that ecosystem, right? So

Michael Waitze 16:36
here’s the here’s a really big question for me is when you start in 2017, right? We’d already seen ecommerce marketplaces developing in Thailand, let’s just say for five years, you had the specter of Lazada was out there. Alibaba had come in, you’ve had shopee just come literally out of nowhere, right from SCA or I don’t know how you pronounce him in his company anymore. To me, it’s always like, Karina, anyway. But there’s all this excitement around, we’re going to start we’re going to we’re going to dominate because we have all these great resources. How does the mindset change as you move from 2017 into 1819? And 20? And I’m really curious about did you do the Apple Macintosh thing where there was this separate group? Or was it just people in each one of the operating group saying, now you’re responsible for omni channel as well? And how did the mindset change over time as it went from? This is going to be awesome, too. We have to execute on all these things. Because it’s just really hard. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a company, like you said, with 100,000 people in it, or 10 people in it when it gets hard, it gets hard. I’m just curious how that changes internally.

Axel Winter 17:36
Yeah, I mean, extremely good point, I would say is, we were pretty true to our strategy. So while external things happened, and we talked about them, we evaluated them. But we had, we had a fairly clear strategy. And I would say why we tuned it, we did not fundamentally change it in the four years. And if you look at the revenue by new channels, which is, which is a line item in the annual and quarterly reporting by central retail, you can actually see the impact. We’re talking we’re talking about. I mean, even I think 2020 was a billion over $1,000,000,000.20 21. It was almost two. And so for me, I thought that was the biggest value that it created direction, right? In that sense, there were changes on a feature level and on the operating model. So how did it work? Now to give a kind of two forces and you could you could argue that that there’s also some built in inefficiency, but then again, every model has its strengths. Weakness, the way it worked, was each business unit let’s empower by supersports had an omni channel omni channel director so that that person was sent for sales and merchandising, I mean online as an online merchandising, even integration into the store where like, like single click and collect and stuff like that, and then also work of course with the quote unquote offline teams, but they had their own and that could be between teams of five to 3040 depends on the business unit, there are some smaller and bigger business units and they there was a omni channel director with an enabled small enablement team business enablement team, who would help them to design the processes, permissions, logistics and so on. And then there was me as the counterpart of doing basically the core district creation creating and running off the platform business right, which is actually the product management. So define the feature set what is what is required, and how was the flow, data signs, data analytics, insights, customer insights, and so on. And then of course, also the execution part right? We will then in the creation part work with the omnichannel teams. Also the President I mean, the senior management and the board, if all you want to x come in and other stakeholders to to drive through the supply chain team, also centralized team that was also part of that. And then we’ll try to shape our journey and try to implement it again, the goal was, there was some really very basic platforms in very dated not not nothing which could have been rescued. The goal was giving all our business units basically online on to my strongest standard, and then keep innovating and growing from there. As far as I’m concerned. So interesting, what difficulties is on that one, because you do touch upon it, maybe just just to add a tad, you know, typically, in this type of process, you link a feature to a revenue, right? And then which makes sense is anything Hey, I have a say, I don’t know, whatever I share, I share a product, which I like or a promotion in social media, maybe I get a voucher for it or something. Okay, that’s gonna make a strap, maybe 10 million for a year, right? I mean, but I don’t know, I make up a number. And then, and then, of course, you have, then these two forces, one is within the business units, who then have their own opinion of what they need and what they should do, which is not always but often more driven about where the current business is, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing, because you want that conflict. But on the other side, you also have the more let’s say, strategic vision of, say, my boss, my then boss, and also, let’s say, the only general director, who looks at this more strategically, where I want to be two years or five years type of thing, right. And then you have these forces, and that is really difficult to sort out. And if I wouldn’t say, a challenge is really that that that this this con designed conflict, the only other way to manage it would be well, I mean, the only other approach will be to say, well, these type of decisions are just not made in the business units anymore, which then run the risk is that you’re not that you’re not thinking about the business that in that industry, or that vertical is in, right, because let’s say someone who sells sports equipment is different than someone who sells washing machines, right? This is a this, this is a difficult thing to resolve, we had that approach. And it also created upside and altered downside,

Michael Waitze 22:36
I want to go up a little bit higher. Let’s go up to like 30,000 feet. And this is just a thought that I’ve had. And I’m curious what what you think about it, too. You know, I like to say no one succeeds alone, right? In the way you’ve built this infrastructure, at least in this particular example, is kind of like building an internal ecosystem around this idea for omni channel distribution and omni channel sales. But then if you step a little bit higher, right, it’s not just internal to that one institution. It’s like, how do you build this innovation ecosystem around a big company? Right? Because their digital transformation doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Right? So what should that innovation look like? If you think about building an ecosystem? In this case, it’s central and JD, but it can be any kind of example around there, right? Because you need all this other stuff going on? To actually enable it. It can’t just happen on its own. Yeah,

Axel Winter 23:24
yeah. I mean, there are two different questions. We didn’t even come to JD yet. That that’d be a good topic. One of the things is, which which goes well with innovation is empowerment. And I would say that, too, in these types of innovation also goes well with if you if you started, you started in smaller pilots, right? So you have like, this, one or two months type of projects, you try something out, and then you keep you keep learning, or growing. But depending on where that tryout is. So my team we created, we created a let’s say, a small outlet in in Chiangmai. In early 2018, maybe in 2017 can remember, there’s a team of like 10 people who who would really be the innovation lab, literally that they are they will take over these type of projects. They were teaming at that time with with AWS. And but it didn’t matter as much. I mean, the best part was good, but more because of using global network to team with startups where that makes sense. Yeah, but but that that innovation center, I mean, things like you could go in that we had some pilot where you could scan yourself product, let’s say in the shelf, pay them in your app, and then walk out basically right right. That’s kind of the the idea and I thought it was it wouldn’t have worked is if you try to do this mainstream from the get go right? So you need or or look at See coin was much much P od about, which is a token benefit crypto in house cryptocurrency, which uses a staff loyalty points. So you come to a training on time, and then you get you’ve got a few points. And then you can use it to, let’s say, basically get things within the group. And you can you can go to talks or somewhere and get get some benefit out of it. And I thought these things worked out very well, for the Mega things like say two big steps. I think that was really also the executive level discussion, where we said, again, in the in the senior management team in the XCOM, where, you know, you just look at market trends and movements and opportunities to say is does it make sense? And I think people after after central announced a JD and everybody thought is obvious thing to do. And I thought it wasn’t okay. That’s what people said afterwards, before everybody was talking about, you have to you have to compete. You have to push back. Yeah. But but sometimes it’s also good to partner with a frenemy, right? I mean, and see, can learn, right? I mean, I mean, they are, there’s more benefit there than then sales of one unit, if you deal with someone who was the largest e retail ecommerce site or maybe in China, definitely a learning stare. And I mean, I definitely had learnings with, with them, and they learn from us as well, right? I mean, it’s a two way street. So I thought it was an extremely exciting time. And that Greg grab is another one, as you notice, public knowledge was investment into grab. Thailand significant also. And also good teaming with, with to grab folks, I thought, again, it goes a bit to the earlier point of reach and ability capability, right, of saying, Well, I see how God does it, I see how grep does it maybe it gives me also an idea for my unit gives the omni channel directory talked about an idea for what he he or she should be doing, and so on. Right. And I thought that on that level, I would say that the value generated significant. I mean, it’s just picking another perspective.

Michael Waitze 27:13
Do you want to talk more about this JD central experience and some of the other stuff that you’ve learned from doing this? Are you posted about it? That was really the genesis of me reaching out finally to get on the show? I’m just curious, because there’s so much talk around. And we talked about this earlier a little bit. There’s so much talk around this, that and everything else that happens in these ecosystems. And yet the people that are actually directly involved in it, sometimes sit on the sidelines and look and go, that’s not the way this happened at all. So you don’t have so we have you. So I’m just curious if you can just walk us through a little bit like just some of the interesting things that happened here?

Axel Winter 27:47
Well, I mean, first of all, I thought, again, it was it was set out to partner with. I mean, I call that frenemy, because, again, if they could come down a little bit competitive, or they could come into the market if someone else and as well as, again, there is this partnership opportunity, right in the beginning was very simple. It was to say, hey, there has to be a marketplace. Why can there not be another big marketplace? I shopee? Like Lazada, probably a bit more focused, a bit less aggressive on pricing and promotions, but maybe more curated that some of them

Michael Waitze 28:22
are. Yeah, I would love that.

Axel Winter 28:25
Yeah, so that was the outset. And I have to say, as a customer, I love JD service. I used one of the other two, or both of them and I got fake products. I mean, I got a fake phone, basically, in the marketplace. And yeah, you have to talk to the seller. It’s a screw. Alright. I mean, somebody’s screwing me right. Now, how is that happening? Right, right. And, and even for COVID I got some of the masks, it was a pre used mask. I mean, you wouldn’t believe it. And then, I mean, it’s like it’s like I get I also have good experiences with all of them, right? I’m not I’m not No, I get it, I get it. Yeah, but but the point is that the idea was to be more curated, like like Central is like, like JD marketplaces. The other one was really the financial service part or the the wallet part to have in wallet, both sorry, on offline payments. And potentially also, let’s say buy now pay later type of models, which is quite novel, then of course, the name was totally different. It’s like this address plus like a consumer purchase loan, and also supplier financing right, because some of the medium sized smaller suppliers, they have to put a lot of money on the table have to just move the inventory to my understanding JD was quite successful with this also in China. We also had we also met with the Indonesian teams, there also the new Asian investors and so on. There was also I thought interesting out there and they’re thinking about this, again, retrospectively is easy and people again, always being negative to begin with. It’s obviously easy to talk it down, but I thought that that Read of talking about and designing the future. I thought it was very exciting. It was very educational again, how do you structured teams? How would you structure development, I think JD has about 10,000 developers. And again, I met some of the SATA Lazzara developers in the early days. And then also some will be the core platform, some of the data science like John Burns, who, who I also recruited, but I got another viewpoint from them, right. And I thought that was that was highly impressive, did begin Chinese business or debate ebooks in China is different than it works in Thailand or other countries. So this is just some some different process and flow and also the way you work with the with the customer ecosystem is different. And, and then, of course, there’s a revenue goal. I mean, day to day, as I said before, Central is good on KPIs. And I think that marketplace went out and did that in, you know, I thought the fundamental difference to my impression was that as a retailer, and this is true, probably for all retailers, you think about profits in a very different way than a marketplace. How so though, yeah, in effect, we are talking retailer is kind of, if the marketplace wants to make $1, the retailer wants to make 20 or 25. Right, in profits. And of course, you could see that that that even even with presumably better service is a challenge. Yet that that is a core core difference of, I would say have off discussions, and which which have transpired over the time. And I mean, I don’t want to speculate what what what happened in the last few weeks. Because it wasn’t there wouldn’t be fair. But But as to say is that this mindset of you look, I mean, I thought it was a couple of weeks back, there was a, I saw there was a breakdown of profits of marketplaces. Right? And if I if I remember correctly, all Asara had a mid level profit there. And showing how tough how tough that is, in this type of environment to make to make that happen, because basically, it’s all promotions. I mean, people we hire people also from Indonesian startups, ecommerce startups across the region, Vietnam and Thailand, of course. And the insight I always got is if there is a if there is a price point difference for a product of here five part, or in Indonesia versus 500 rupee, which is, which is a coin, right? It’s, I mean, that would swing a person to buy somewhere else. If for all count, they’re getting the same. And in that environment, right. Yeah. It’s really tremendously difficult to to have more than two big players in the market. So just fundament? Theoretically, I don’t see that how that would work. So this

Michael Waitze 33:00
is the follow on to that. Right. It’s after all that experience. And after trying to build a marketplace. That sounds like it’s better, right? It’s curated. This gets back to this noise versus signals, right. I mean, I once asked the chief revenue officer, one of the big and one of the big marketplaces, how do you handle product discovery? And the answer was, we don’t have a problem with it. We have 3 million products. And I thought, yeah, that’s the problem. Too many products, hard to discover. But he didn’t get that. But here’s the question for you then. If these marketplaces are so hard, right, and if the view from a marketplaces perspective on how to earn a profit is different from a retailer, what should innovation look like in the online retail space? And it’s there, it may not be your finished answer. Right. But I’m curious if if we don’t need more than two marketplaces. I think we need more. What is it?

Axel Winter 33:52
We’ll need? I think you do need different models. Right? I would I wouldn’t say that. It’s all up to websites. In the world, obviously. Yeah. But you need different differentiating models. First of all, again, I would maintain is that JD also made make contributions to the the bottom line. So that also, again, the learning and so on, did he still is a logistics provider, they have again changed their strategy on the on the marketplace side or outside of China becoming more of an enabler. In the logistics businesses across Southeast Asia now operated, I saw Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, in fact, business in Thailand, they have multiple partnerships there. So again, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t cut this out. However, whether you continue this or not is another question and what I saw from the annual report is that the in house new channels, so stuff which I was involved in building that also generates significant revenue, and then central depsite is its own marketplace. So is Office made as Morgan b2b or SMB type of thing. So it’s Power BI and super sports marketplace model here, meaning that you have third party sellers on it, and you have the traditionally traditional retail products on it. And so from that, from that perspective, I thought that that is good. And there is a curation around certain product categories. And then don’t underestimate the ability to have on an offline loyalty, right? I mean, when I even what I mean, not not to forget wherever but but then again, the choice was different to say, yes, we also want marketplace, but it’s just one piece of a value proposition around a certain customer segment, let’s say to us, and here is loyalty, the gift cards, which are extremely popular than they are the marketplace created marketplace product around the tendons which we have in our mold, great partners. For us are also FMB. Not not only it’s not only about e commerce in that sense, or retail e commerce, I think that that is one you could be the you could have very unique product, which may not always be your marketplaces or Bucha marketplace has because the volume may not have sufficient interest. I think there are multiple will be based I saw in Europe, some some ecommerce websites where gold stars or tennis stars basically not even created their own private label. But but basically created, they’re created a selection of items, which they use during career of products and services. And they feel strongly about it. And they’re selling it under something which is branded under their name. And I thought that that also, again, is a differentiator. And if I really, if I really, again, go to spot spot items are probably going to super spot, because not only because I I know repeat, but but also because I know that they have a selection, when I talk to the folks to sales there, they actually know what’s going on and what I should have, right, which is a different experience. And I think there are opportunities not to be another, another marketplace in this sense of the shopee or Lazada. Because they have their business. And both of them are different from each other. And again, it’s it’s it’s for for companies like Central and more Ruben, I mean, LOTOS and macro and whoever is there, and it’s a lot, of course, to create their own ways to the consumer and saying, Well, we want to help our consumer in our customers different way and add value in in other ways which are adjacent in itself. I think that I find critical in in the first wave, what we saw is cooperations didn’t think enough about it. If that first wave is has been over, let’s say this year or last year, then it’s okay. And people are starting driving towards the next gen is fine. But if they were to say is we are still competing with them, then that I don’t I cannot believe that that would work. And if you look at the US, although the market is really very different, because we don’t have multi purpose apps in the US as much unlike in Southeast Asia, or in Asia. And then it’s also really difficult for people to compete with Amazon, right. I mean, he says, I mean, most of them just do both because of the realistics of the economies.

Michael Waitze 38:30
Yeah, I think that is a great way to end we’ve been at this for about 40 or so minutes. No, no…but, what it’s done to me, Axel is it’s forced me to have you back on the show again, because there’s so much stuff that I wanted to cover that we couldn’t cover today. But this I think whets the appetite for people to hear more from you. So I’m gonna thank you Axel Winter, co-founder of Pivot Digital, but I’m gonna ask you to come back on the show. Because I want to get your view on other things like the startup ecosystem in Thailand, the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia, you were there installing internet at the beginning. So how has that changed in the penetration? Don’t answer any of these things. But I want to talk to you. I want to talk to you. I know I know. I know I can feel it. But I want to talk to you about these things as well. But for today, I just want to say thank you. I really appreciate you doing this. That was awesome.

Axel Winter 39:16
Well, thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it. I don’t even know what time it is anymore.

Michael Waitze 39:22
Neither do I…

 

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