eBay Teams Up With Indonesia
Blanja.com is ready to help Indonesian products go global
By Mary R Silaban and Karmila Bain
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Telkom, as a government telecommunications enterprise, entered the market by teaming up with one of the world’s leading e-commerce companies, eBay. The result – Blanja.com. After preparing the ground for several years, Blanja.com is now emerging into its own.
Aulia Ersyah Marinto, Chief Executive Officer of PT Metraplasa, which operates Blanja.com, and a former senior advisor to the president director of corporate communications at Telkomsel, told AmCham Indonesia how the partnership began, and how the platform will help Indonesian products go global.
AmCham Indonesia: How did Blanja.com engage with eBay?
Aulia Ersyah Marinto: Blanja.com officially launched on December 8, 2014, as a joint venture between eBay Inc and PT Telkom, the agreement for which was signed in 2012. For two years, we built the platform, prepared the paperwork, the foreign investment, etc.
In 2015-2016, Blanja.com was not known among the people. We focused on developing internally. In order to connect with big platforms such as eBay, we have to build the foundations by having the eBay products. At the end of 2016, we finally bonded with eBay.com. In other words, we tried to make eBay.com listings available in Indonesia. Through some processes, based on Indonesian law, we then launched around 500 million products as our first step.
We learn to improve the system through input, comments and customer complaints from those who shop at Blanja.com.
Currently we are in an on-going process where the products offered are coming not just from the US, but also Japan, Europe, Hong Kong, etc. We are going worldwide.
From the products available at Blanja.com, the platform aims to make it easier for people to buy imported goods without needing to go abroad. Besides worldwide items, Blanja.com also has SNI [Indonesia National Standard] accredited goods, which emphasize local products. They are shown on the Blanja.com website as “pojok asli Indonesia,” which targets not only Indonesian merchants but also the products of Indonesia.
As a start-up corporation, unlike others, Blanja.com has a unique strategy. First, Blanja.com provides the worldwide items that consolidate the delivery of goods, which mean the tax and customs [duties] of the items are included once they are ordered by the customer.
Second, we have an easier payment method by using rupiah. Third, Blanja.com has an office in Indonesia that helps the customer deliver complaints through customer services.
Besides being involved in Blanja.com’s operations, we are an eBay overseas investment unit.
What’s the story behind the idea to engage with eBay?
E-commerce in Indonesia has existed for 20 years. Unfortunately [in the beginning] the technology was not as sophisticated as today, when 3G/4G was still not available. Telkom was one of the government telecommunications enterprises [keen to get involved], and at the time I was assigned to roll out the data network, so I know how it works.
Many players tried to create e-commerce companies, and Telkom tried its luck but failed because of data constraints.
At that time, eBay was already investing in Asia. From the US they went to Southeast Asia through Korea. They acquired the market for eBay Korea, followed by Vietnam. Meanwhile in China and India, eBay contributes investment only.
In 2011, there were some e-commerce companies in Indonesia but none of them were strategic. Telkom then tried its luck again and create a new e-commerce company with a new concept, namely Blanja.com. In 2012, Telkom approached the world's leading e-commerce company, eBay Inc. At the time, we competed with other startups because eBay could only open partnerships opportunities in Indonesia.
The power of eBay is expertise, knowledge, operations and knowing how to play. While Telkom has a more than two hundred million customer base and, of course, is local and has the infrastructure and access to the government.
Blanja.com also has been selected by the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises to nurture 118 SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises] in Indonesia and all of their online stores are on Blanja.com. Through the Creative House of SOEs [Rumah Kreatif BUMN] program, Blanja.com has led them into strategic e-commerce, not only on digital matters, but also coaching SOEs [state-owned enterprises].
The point is we are unique and we play in an uncommon area.
How do you ensure that products are not counterfeit?
From the beginning, we have been committed to selling original products only. The merchants who sell fake products will be delisted from our platform and their stores will be suspended.
International sellers who join eBay.com, sometimes do not want their products to flow into Indonesia. The products listed in Blanja.com will be filtered by eBay.
For your information, eBay has 300 lawyers, and they take this issue very seriously. Definitely, they will ask for certification, and if your product is fake, then it cannot enter the eBay platform.
In Indonesia, we have an eBay team operating remotely. They are usually travelling around Indonesia, such as Jogja, Bali, to find local Indonesian products. Now the number of Indonesian products that go international on eBay.com is about five thousand products, and generally all types of products except food.
It is easier for local merchants who want to expand their products abroad if their product is bought by an international trader. They just need to register at Blanja.com and it automatically goes international.
The most important thing is the seller should be able to speak English, own a credit card and have their product ready to sell.
How many sellers are listed on Blanja.com?
For sellers it is actually a matter of time. The most important thing is what you can find in Blanja.com. Our focus is to make the items go international. At the end of the day, we believe that the sellers will follow.
What do you think about the government’s e-commerce roadmap?
We are really enthusiastic and excited, and it has challenged us to be more active and encourage all business sectors to be involved and share great ideas, because this sector has been here for more than 20 years and will be here for many more –not only in e-commerce but also other digital things.
What are the challenges?
The way people connect with each other is very different. There are no issues on developing the website, but the real challenge is how to make digital business that can be managed and organized by powerful talent, because we know that this business sector is full of uncertainty and the managing executive should know how to survive and stand strong.
At this time, we have approximately 500 million items in our platform. The number will increase, as we want to reach our vision to make more Indonesian items go international.
There are actually three business portfolios that will extend our vision and mission: bring a local seller to a local buyer; bring a local seller to an international buyer [using the eBay platform] and connect the international seller to the local buyer.
Therefore, Blanja.com is always trying to satisfy the buyer by providing them with more worldwide items, and bring local sellers to international buyers.
We hope that AmCham Indonesia and other chambers of commerce can work together to help us to educate society, especially in the English language.