E-commerce takes off in Indonesia as Internet user base expands

JAKARTA — Indonesia may be experiencing its slowest pace of economic growth in five years, but you would not know it by looking at all the interest garnered by HijUp.com.

An online retailer of Islamic fashion, HijUp last week received an undisclosed amount of seed funding logo-hijup-cb569a3c721dc763ed47de058cc26b98from Emtek Group, Fenox Venture Capital and 500 Startups.

“In Indonesia, online shopping is not something new anymore, because it’s supported by a rather massive Internet user base,” said Ms Diajeng Lestari, HijUp’s chief executive.

She added that by “mixing faith and fashion”, HijUp hopes to turn Jakarta into a global capital of Islamic fashion.

Operating on a much larger scale is Lippo Group’s MatahariMall.com, an e-commerce site named after the conglomerate’s department store chain.

Earlier this year, Lippo appointed Credit Suisse and Bank of America to lead its first round of financing to raise US$200 million (S$275 million), as it bids to turn MatahariMall.com into “the Alibaba of Indonesia”.

The amount of funding pouring into Indonesia’s fledgling e-commerce scene belies the general economic sputtering that has seen the country post its slowest pace of quarterly gross domestic product growth in five years, at 4.7 per cent in the January-to-March period.

That boon, wrote Mr Gary Khoeng in Convergence Ventures, a technology venture fund that invests in early-stage Indonesian enterprises, is due to an ever-expanding Internet user base.

“According to an e-commerce report by Singapore Post, Indonesia commanded between 70 and 80 million Internet users this year, growing at 20 per cent year-on-year until 2016,” Mr Khoeng said.

“This is more than 30 per cent Internet penetration, double the rate several years ago,” he added.