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How Australia Post’s partnership with retail giant Alibaba could give your business a foot-up in Asia

6:22AM | Tuesday, 3 June

Small Australian businesses will gain more access to the lucrative Chinese retail market thanks to an agreement signed by Australia Post and retail giant Alibaba this week.   The agreement will create a new avenue for Australian companies to access Alibaba’s Tmall.com shopping platform, which is China’s largest online third-party platform for brands and retailers.   While Australian companies have been able to get their products into the online store in the past, a spokesperson for the Alibaba Group told SmartCompany this could only happen if the company was registered as a Chinese business entity, employed local staff and had stock in China.   “The recent collaboration with Australia Post will allow Australian businesses to use their Australian business licenses and ship their products directly from Australia,” says the spokesperson.   Australia Post has already launched its own store within the Tmall.com platform, using an aspect of the platform called Tmall Global. Among the local brands featured in the Australia Post shopfront are Penfolds wine, baby food Bellamy’s Organic and retailer Jeanswest.   While the Tmall Global solution is a separate division of the Tmall platform from the point of view of suppliers, the spokesperson says Chinese consumers who visit Tmall.com will not notice the difference.   The spokesperson says Alibaba has identified growing demand among Chinese consumers for Australian products, particularly in the baby care, health and nutrition, and beauty industries.   “Chinese consumers are looking for these products from Australia because Australia is known for its clean and healthy products,” says the spokesperson.   And while the spokesperson says it is possible for Australian companies to work with Alibaba directly, the Australia Post option may be better suited to small companies that are looking to build their brands.   “Chinese consumers are very brand-conscious, so working with Australia Post would allow the companies to tap into ‘brand Australia’,” says the spokesperson.   There is also a growing number of Chinese consumers who travel to Australia for holidays and study, and when they return to China, want to access the same products and brands, says the spokesperson.   Australia Post and Alibaba are yet to decide what marketing will be done around the partnerships, but the spokesperson said a similar agreement was recently signed with the French government, which led to marketing activities that promoted French brands in China.   As part of the arrangements with Alibaba, Australia Post will also begin stocking pre-paid Alipay gift cards in its retail outlets in June, which will allow Australian consumers to purchase goods from Tmall.com and Alibaba’s Taobao Marketplace.   A spokesperson for Australia Post told SmartCompany the organisation is committed to helping Australian SMEs grow their businesses in Asia.   “Through a range of innovative ecommerce partnerships with international postal organisations, ecommerce marketplaces and global businesses operating in the Asia Pacific region, Australia Post is opening doors for Australian small business around the globe,” said the spokesperson.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

ROKT raises $US8 million: How they did it and what their investors wanted to know

11:08PM | Tuesday, 26 November

ROKT, a digital marketing start-up launched last year, has been valued at $US50 million ($54.4 million) and received $US8 million in investment from Square Peg Capital, Greg Roebuck, Lachlan Murdoch and John Ho.   The digital referral platform generates millions of referrals for advertisers each month. Clients include eBay, Gumtree, Australia Post, Webjet and OZSALE. The team of 45 is servicing clients in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore   Chief executive Bruce Buchanan told StartupSmart he was excited and relieved as he signed the deal on Friday after a couple of big months. The funds will go towards a rapid international roll out.   Buchanan, who used to be the chief executive of Jetstar, says they decided to seek out expertise before funds, but the two came hand-in-hand.   “We identified some people who would help us with the US expansion, and it progressed from there. It wasn’t a typical round process where you go out armed with financial advisors and shop it around. We went and sought out people whose advice would be really valuable to us,” Buchanan says.   Buchanan describes the investors who backed them as having a similar approach to assessing their investment options.   “They all definitely had a sense of the how sustainable the business model is, and how defensible it is. There was a lens on that,” Buchanan says.   “The other piece they really honed in on was all about the people. They spent a lot of time about the quality and transparency of the management team, and how ability to execute on the opportunities we were presenting.”   In a statement, Square Peg Capital co-founder Paul Bassat said: “We invest in passion and we can see that the team at ROKT have the vision to deliver a world-class product and be a disruptive player in digital marketing. We’ve undertaken a rigorous analysis before making this investment and we believe that ROKT has the potential for growth that could make it a global player in a very short space of time.”   The ROKT team will be focused on rolling out their offering in the United States, and then a series of international markets.   “We’ve got a number of markets we’re really interested in, and a roll out plan in our heads. We’ve researched which ones will be easier and harder, and how we want to sequence them,” says Buchanan, adding they’re targeting the United States first as it’s the largest digital advertising market by a fair bit.   Buchanan says as an Australian start-up they are mindful of the rich opportunities in big digital markets such as China and Japan.   “We’ve grown fivefold in the last 12 months, and plan to continue that rate of growth, but we don’t want to rush in Asia,” Buchanan says. “My experience with Jetstar and Asia is that the right partners are absolutely critical, so we want to make sure we get the perfect partners and the right local backing first.”   Gavin Appel from Square Peg Capital and John Ho will join the ROKT board.   In a statement, Hong Kong-based Janchor Partners chief information officer Ho said: “Bruce has a strong track record and I have a lot of confidence in the management team. ROKT has the right people and platform to excel in this space”.   Buchanan adds the business model fundamentals established by the original founders have set the company up well, and the rapid growth has come from those and the strength of the team.   “When you’re growing this fast you’re outlaying a lot of cash. Combine that with the need to get best possible people on board as quickly as you can, and you’ve got an interesting challenge you have to juggle,” Buchanan says.

Revealed: The best and worst brands of 2012

3:39AM | Monday, 11 March

Start-ups can learn from the best and worst brands as rated by consumer website Product Review, which has highlighted the importance of product quality in addition to customer service.

eBay sellers cite postage as major barrier to growth

3:33AM | Thursday, 22 March

More than half of Australian eBay sellers cite postage as a major barrier to growth, according to a new report, while 68% would like to see more competitive shipping rates.

Government road show aims to boost regional firms’ web presence

6:55AM | Tuesday, 14 June

The Federal Government has teamed up with the likes of PayPal, eBay and Optus to launch Driving Business Online, a nationwide road show designed to help small businesses achieve success online – and sell them on the benefits of the NBN.

THE NEWS WRAP: Figures show a near-threefold increase in debit card fraud

12:29PM | Tuesday, 7 December

The magnetic stripe ATM card could be under threat following new figures that show a near-threefold increase in debit card fraud in the last financial year.

THE NEWS WRAP: ACCC calls for new powers to stop the major banks colluding on interest rate rises

12:20AM | Monday, 6 December

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has called for new powers to stop the major banks colluding on interest rate rises.

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