Over the past two years, Asia’s retailers were forced to do virtual meetings instead of visiting in-person trade shows or conferences to source new brands and products due to the pandemic lockdowns. A startup called Peeba has built a B2B wholesale online platform that connects independent retailers across Asia with unique brands around the world.
Peeba says the lack of B2B-focused online wholesale solutions and tech infrastructure hampered Asia’s antiquated B2B wholesale retail market in business growth and new market entries during the pandemic. The Hong Kong-headquartered company wants to help Asia-based B2B retailers reduce inventory risk and offer higher operational efficiency with lower costs via its platform.
The startup has secured $4.2 million in seed funding led by Headline Asia. The new round of funding brings its total raised to $5.8 million.
Jacky Lai, CEO of Peeba, who has worked in tech and supply chain management for over a decade, told TechCrunch he has heard from brands that they struggle to find new sales channels and partners, especially in Asia. According to Peeba, there are high barriers to entry and expansion for brands seeking growth in Asia due to the wide range of languages, currencies, regulatory environments and business practices across the region.
With the latest funding, Peeba plans to double its headcount and expand local offices to improve local language support across 11 Asian countries. Lai said its localization effort isn’t just focused on supporting multiple languages; the strategy involves having a more robust understanding of the demand for new products and categories, meaning it will accurately identify potential products and brands, he added.
The company also will bolster its machine learning-driven recommendation engine and improve its proprietary technology for its retailers’ automated credit checks, said Kevin Cho, co-founder of Peeba.
“When it comes to onboarding SMBs, our process involves leveraging our proprietary credit risk technology that assesses the prospective retailer’s eligibility,” Lai told TechCrunch.
One of Peeba’s unique features is that there is no upfront cost with stocking their physical or virtual shelves with inventory from Peeba, as the company uses a “sell first, pay later” model, Lai said. Last week, Peeba announced its partnership with Hong Kong-based Choco Up to enable the “sell first, pay later” payment option for retailers on Peeba’s platform.
“We digitize new brand discovery, automate the negotiation and client management process, and streamline logistics and shipping by pooling orders,” Cho said. “All this contributes to improving operational efficiency and lowering costs for all parties.”
Lai said that another key specialization is its competitive shipping rates and steeper discounts that allow global brands to trial or test their products in a completely new market.
Peeba works with global brands, including those in North America, Europe and Asia, and helps them connect with retailers across Asia in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan.
Peeba has onboarded 25,000 retail users, which is 10x growth in the last year, and 1,500 unique brands (3x growth year on year), with more than 100,000 products listed on the platform. Lai told TechCrunch that the retailers that joined its platform range from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) to major retailers with hundreds of brick-and-mortar locations. DFS Singapore, Slowood in Hong Kong and Marais in Taiwan are among some well-known retailers that have ordered through Peeba, while brands include South Korea’s Memebox, Skin 1004 and Leaders Cosmetics, Lai noted.
“Our mission is to transform how independent retailers discover and connect with unique brands and bring Asia’s B2B wholesale retail supply chain into the modern era in the process,” Lai said. “Peeba’s major value-add is how we reduce inventory risk for retailers through our 60-day return policy and ‘sell first, pay later’ model. That allows retailers to quickly adjust to post-pandemic realities with greater confidence.”
“Peeba is bringing about the next stage of global retail innovation. The platform brings both emerging and traditional brands to the world of local retail in Asia. We are excited to become Peeba’s partner to help expand their reach into more markets in Asia,” said Akio Tanaka, partner and co-founder of Headline VC.