JAKARTA (Reuters) – Tokopedia, an Indonesian e-commerce site backed by SoftBank and Alibaba, said on Wednesday it generated a record $1.3 billion (£1 billion) in gross merchandise volume (GMV) during Ramadan sale, amid soaring demand for online retail.
The company said its biggest sales, recorded on May 17, resulted in a total transaction value that was higher than combined sales from the first six years.
“Those transactions are happening across 97% of sub-districts in Indonesia and involved 5.9 million sellers,” said Tokopedia founder and CEO William Tanuwijaya.
The start-up secured $1.1 billion in a funding round in December, led by Japan’s SoftBank Group Vision Fund and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Sources say Tokopedia is valued at $7 billion.
Shopping for clothes and gifts during the holy month of Ramadan is a significant part of the culture for Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
The Southeast Asian nation of over 260 million people is seen among the most promising global e-commerce markets, buoyed by a younger generation shifting their preference to online shopping.
The Indonesian internet economy reached $27 billion last year and is poised to grow to $100 billion by 2025, according to Google-Temasek 2018 study.
However, its logistical challenges are massive. The country’s 17,000 islands are sprinkled across an area bigger than the European Union, with logistical costs swallowing up around a quarter of Indonesia’s gross domestic product.
Tokopedia’s Ramadan sale success reflects that e-commerce retailers are trying to overcome difficulties faster than expected amid higher usage of smartphones.
Tanuwijaya told reporters that Tokopedia, which does not have its own inventory, was experimenting with artificial intelligence to predict demand and store stock in advance in partnership with warehouse operators.
Rivals Bukalapak and Shoppee have not made their Ramadan sales public.
(Reporting by Fanny Potkin, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)