THE HISTORY OF TIKI.VN
E-commerce provides clients with a plethora of benefits in today’s fast-paced environment. Tiki.vn is one of the most prominent consumer brands in Vietnam, an expanding country with a population of approximately 100 million people and a projected market size of $23 billion by 2025. For all Vietnamese people, it is recognized as a national brand name. So, what does Tiki mean to its devotees?
Tiki, which is short for “saving” and “hunting” in Vietnamese, has grown to be one of the most popular e-commerce websites in Vietnam, trailing only Singapore’s Shopee in terms of web traffic but ahead of Alibaba-backed Lazada and Softbank Ventures Asia-backed and FPT’s subsidiary Sendo. Tiki.vn would not exist in the saturated Vietnamese industry today if it hadn’t been for the founder and CEO Tran Ngoc Thai Son (or Son Tran in English), who earned a Master’s degree in e-commerce in New South Wales, Australia in 2007. Son and Tiki began with a $5,000 investment and have since raised $192.5 million from investors across Asia, including Sumitomo, Chinese JD.com, Singaporean government-backed Temasek Holdings, Vietnamese tech conglomerate VNG, Indian venture capital firm InnoVen Capital, and most recently Singaporean private equity firm Northstar Group. Though the company’s valuation has not been announced, analysts estimate that Tiki is worth more than $1 billion, making it Vietnam’s second unicorn.
After several years of studying and working abroad, Son launched Tiki as a website to sell foreign language books, much like Jeff Bezos did when he launched Amazon. When he returned to Vietnam in 2009, he instantly recognized the need for readers to acquire and read books, particularly in English. “Reading books is not a habit of the majority of Vietnamese people,” he explained, “but it is a sign of intellectual standards for those who wish to modify their reading habits for the better.” Tiki initially only sold English books with fewer than 100 titles. Son used his own bedroom to store books and create Tiki due to difficulties and a lack of cash. Because there was no money for investment and no one to support him as a co-founder, Son packed and delivered books to his clients by himself when there were any orders. Son never gave up, no matter how difficult the situation was. Tiki was immediately voted the finest customer care and delivery service, as well as the most popular e-commerce website based on the B2C model that specializes in books, after two years of hard work.
“Perfection comes with practice.” Tiki has risen to become one of Vietnam’s most popular e-commerce sites thanks to its perseverance. Mr. Son has overcome numerous challenges, but his efforts and enthusiasm do not reveal his emotions. Soichi Tajima, chairman and CEO of investment funds CyberAgent Ventures, became the first investor in Tiki in March 2012, contributing $500,000. Tiki became Vietnam’s number one online bookshop in just two years, thanks to a fast-growing firm with 80 employees, officers, and well-prepared storage facilities. In 2016, VNG, the digital conglomerate behind the Zing social and media network, Zalo, a messaging app, and a number of famous online gaming services, invested 384 billion VND ($17 million) in Tiki to assist it build software and technology to support its vast range of services and product lines. Tiki’s CEO figured out the possibilities of a fast-growing e-commerce firm from time to time by observing consumers’ shopping behavior and using the money for online shopping. Tiki has grown from an online bookstore to an interdisciplinary retailing online store with ten primary categories: books, phones and tablets, digital gadgets, electrical appliances, homes, cosmetic items, stationery, toys, fashionable clothing, and maternity and newborn supplies. Tiki now has two large fulfillment sites in Vietnam’s two largest cities, Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi. Furthermore, a 55,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Ho Chi Minh City can store 1.5 million to 2.2 million products. With such a large quantity of products, Tiki is attempting to reduce delivery time to two to four hours in the two major cities of Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi.
Tiki has not only survived but also grown to become one of the most well-known online shopping websites in the extremely competitive Vietnamese e-commerce business. Tiki has satisfied its clients not only with prompt delivery, high-quality products, and time-saving services, but also through a shift in buying behavior. Son gave prospective business owners some helpful advice on how to attain the pinnacle of success in the startup world: “Three primary criteria determine investment success: excitement, experience, and market.” Tiki Vietnam’s and Mr. Son Tran’s success is, by and large, one of the most inspiring stories that inspires and promotes the growth of entrepreneurs in Vietnam. We expect that in the coming years, there will be an increasing number of startup success stories in Vietnam. For more information on Vietnam startups, the business environment, and investment prospects, visit VietLaunch.