Synagie Is Looking To Expand Into New Markets

Synagie is currently the first and only enabler championing sustainability across the eCommerce value chain with all its fulfillment centers in Singapore offering Green Packaging since May 2021.

Synagie Is Looking To Expand Into New Markets
Synagie is a driving force behind SEA’s digital commerce transformation

In this interview with Olive Tai, Co-Founder, Managing Director, Synagie, she talks about the beginnings of the company and its expansion across seven countries that has helped it to grow its market in the Asean region.

But the company does not intend to stop there. headquartered from Singapore, Synagie enables digital and Omni-Commerce across all major channels and platforms across seven markets in the region.

"Synagie is the largest, most awarded Ecommerce Enabler in Southeast Asia. Founded in 2016, and headquartered from Singapore, Synagie enables digital and Omni-Commerce across all major channels and platforms across seven markets in the region.

"Currently, Synagie operates close to 1,000 e-stores across 12 digital platforms for 600 brand partners including Nike, Estée Lauder Companies, Shiseido, L’Oreal, Amore Pacific and Nestlé.

"The Group is the proud Winner of Lazada’s Regional Partner of the Year for 2022 and 2021, at its Brand Future Forum Awards, and it is also Lazada 3- starred certified and a Shopee accredited enabler across markets. By the end of 2023, Synagie will expand its business and operations to Europe starting in Spain," says Olive Tai.

Olive explains that Synagie began its journey as Beautiful Me, an ecommerce marketplace specialising in the BBB (Body, Beauty, Baby) sector.

Following its foray into the ecommerce marketplace, Synagie’s founders saw an opportunity in the enablement space and pivoted its core business to be ‘Synagie’, known around the region today as the driving force behind SEA’s digital commerce transformation.

"At Synagie, our goal is to allow brand partners to automate, integrate and simplify all aspects of the commerce value chain from multi-channel content, order, inventory management, warehousing and last mile delivery, to customer service and data analytics.

"With Synagie 2.0, our enhanced cloud based ebusiness management system, our newly established Synagie Commerce Academy and Syangie Go Green initiatives which champions environmental sustainability across the value chain, Synagie has evolved from a regional eCommerce solution provider to a global digital institution," says Olive.

Sustainable Solutions

One would ask what issues was Synagie trying to solve and how is this working out so far?

Olive says Synagie is currently the first and only enabler championing sustainability across the eCommerce value chain with all its fulfillment centers in Singapore offering Green Packaging since May 2021.

All carton boxes are now made of FSC certified material and available in 15 sizes. Bubble wraps and plastic tape have been changed to FSI certified fasil and kraft paper tape respectively.

Bubble bags have also been replaced by FSC certified honeycomb mailers. All Synagie fulfillment centers across the region will follow to offer green packaging by end 2023. The transition to green packaging was initially challenging for Synagie with high costs and resistance by the businesses.

It surmounted these challenges by offering time bound subsidies to brands to onboard them and gain economies of scale as well as continued sourcing with global suppliers to find alternative, more affordable packaging solutions.

As part of its transformation, Synagie will also be working towards the 2025 goal of ensuring all of its fulfilment centres are ‘green’, in line with its goal of helping the ecosystem achieve a better, greener future.

This will be in addition to their current commitment to ensuring all fulfilment centres in the region offer green packaging by the end of 2023.

Each of its ‘green’ fulfilment centres will be made to minimise energy consumption through intelligent design and configuration of facilities to ensure maximum light, energy-saving LED lights and temperature control through thermostats and horticulture.

Further, Synagie will also be looking into the use of automation and deep tech to enhance its fulfilment capabilities. Innovations such as using robots and drones, wearables, automated guided vehicles, voice-controlled solutions, and AI and machine learning will be explored to add sustainable and enhanced value for consumers in the ecommerce value chain.

Market Reach

Do you think the countries that are pushing for a greener, eco-
friendly business environment around the globe will succeed in their endeavour? What are the hurdles they face?

"Yes definitely. After all, we all only have one planet to call home. Current science and extreme weather patterns across the globe have proven that climate change is a very real and fast escalating issue that countries around the world need to address and the ecommerce ecosystem must play its part too. We believe that the main hurdles currently faced are:

  1. There is no single definition of ‘sustainability’ particularly as for many businesses in the retail industry, their main source of income stems from selling products and getting customers to consume them. Hence sustainability in this space could take on different definitions when compared to service related industries. We believe to counter this, more innovation needs to be sought in the retail space to take into considerations the multiple ways in which one could be sustainable. In a sense, one could take a leaf out of Pentagonia’s book where the CEO channels all its profits back into climate related investments. However, this might not feasible for publicly held enterprises.
  2. Climate solutions require collective action and it takes a high level intervention to unlearn the bad habits of society and cultivate new habits. We are starting to see this trickle through in Singapore where the government recently announced enhanced recycling initiatives for plastic and aluminium cans. These beverages will soon be sold at a 10-20 cent premium to encourage consumers to return their containers for a monetary refund. Whilst these practices are commonplace across Europe, it is only just now starting to arrive in the region. Efforts definitely need to be sped up to encourage adoption, education of the public and to affect behaviour change. However, this also presents opportunities to expand eco-friendly behaviour into different aspects of life such as consumer habits and purchasing habits.
  1. Getting long term leadership buy-in is particularly challenging as some of these sustainability policies and initiatives may potentially outlive the lifespan of the employee introducing the policy. Hence board level leadership buy ins could help companies move beyond their near term focus and plan ahead for the longer term particularly as there might be a need to sacrifice short term profit for long term value.

For Synagie, the message it intends to send to its clients is to, "Be bold and be ready to put in the hard work and some investment for the short term."

"It will be challenging in the initial stages when it comes to convincing business partners and yielding returns on investment. For example, when we launched our green packaging to our brands, we had to subsidize them at our own cost for a year, just breaking even before we managed to achieve economies of scale. Despite the difficulties, we have to believe with collective effort we will be able to combat the climate crisis and achieve a sustainable future," says Olive.

"At Synagie, we also have a saying, to do big things fast, and do them well, we definitely cannot do it alone. No one company or party can singularly effect sustainability and build a circular economy in eCommerce.

"While Synagie can and will continue do our part in the area of storage, fulfilment and logistics, we call upon and urge many more like-minded partners in the sector from the brands, marketplaces, government agencies, waste collection and management bodies, even our competitors, to step forward and join the effort, if we are to have any chance of success."