Vietnamese online social commerce platform Aemi recently announced the success of its seed round with $2 million funding led by Alpha JWC Ventures, January Capital, and Venturra Discovery with participation from FEBE Ventures and other angel investors. Founded by Hieu Nguyen Qui and Kim Ngan Vu, the startup initially focused on the health and beauty category to deliver guaranteed-authentic products to online merchants.
Hieu and Kim plan to use the funding for hiring, especially product engineers, to build software for Aemi's micro-merchants.
Combining B2B e-commerce with merchant support tools, Aemi aims to not only connect online businesses with great products at attractive wholesale pricing through direct relationships with brands and distributors but also to support micro-merchants, who currently operate primarily on social channels, with various aspects of their online operations, such as catalog management and customer engagement tools.
Today, social commerce represents more than 60% of Vietnam’s online e-commerce GMV (gross merchandise value). Despite its massive scale, social commerce is primarily made up of individual micro-entrepreneurs who run online businesses with little support in terms of technology, capital, and business know-how.
Due to limited scale and lack of resources, micro-businesses cannot source directly from multiple brands (who typically require a commitment on order size, quantity, and frequency), thus purchasing from traditional wholesalers/aggregators at lower margins and through a complex and inefficient process.
Kim, CEO of Aemi said they target small-scale retailers, even household individual businesses. “At Aemi, we are creating great value for the retail industry in Vietnam in general, and social commerce in particular.”
To Aemi, Vietnam is the key target market. However, the company believes that the model has the potential to apply across South East Asia markets, where online social commerce still accounts for a large majority of the e-commerce transaction value.
This month, the platform will be officially launched in Vietnam, having cultivated a community of nearly 1,000 social merchants. They also with micro-influencers, with follower counts of about 10,000 to 30,000.
“I see a huge demand from a consumer standpoint, but also from a supply perspective,” Kim told TechCrunch in an interview. “Not too much effort has been put into growing supply chain support for this sector.”
With various successes in investments and global venture capitals, Vietnam is expected to become the third-largest startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia, according to Golden State. In 2022, Aemi is not the only startup that secures its bag from funding; many Vietnamese rising stars have received investments in Q1 2022.
The rise of technological advances and consumers' needs for on-demand products will drive e-commerce in the country and also open opportunities for startups in Vietnam to grow further in the future.