Singapore's first halal e-Marketplace AladdinStreet eyes $50m sales in first year

AladdinStreet Singapore is targeting SG$50 million in sales within the first year of its office launch in July 2016. The company launched on 21 October and has signed up nearly 60 merchants, of which close to half are halal-certified.

It is also currently in talks with 140 merchants particularly the SMEs from various industries and aims to collaborate with 300 merchants by next August. AladdinStreet Singapore is a joint venture unit with Malaysia's Aladdin Group, which the latter is said to be in final stage of striking an exclusive and first-ever brand partnership with one of the world's biggest football clubs.

If successful, the deal is expected to give consumers and merchants access to 650 million fans in over 200 territories, allowing faster access into the vast China market. In turn, this will also help meet its target of SG$50 million in sales within the first year of operation. The company's spokesperson declined to reveal specific details on the deal when asked by A+M.

AladdinStreet Singapore adds to the list of 29 other countries that the Aladdin Group and next up is AladdinStreet China. The company said there are more than 20 million Muslims in China today, where the domestic demand for halal by non-Muslims is also increasing given the recent food scares there. The launch of AladdinStreet Singapore provides a viable and safe option for Chinese Muslims and non-Muslims until AladdinStreet China goes live.

The Kuala Lumpur-based Aladdin Group was co-founded by Malaysia's celebrity astronaut and certified surgeon Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie, who travelled to the International Space Station in 2007 aboard a Russian spacecraft. He started the company with two other co-founders in Malaysia.

Sheikh Muszaphar said there has been a growing acceptance of the health benefits for halal products even in non-Muslim countries. But, manufacturers and producers of the halal industry can only meet 20% of this demand due to lack of reliable marketing platforms.

"In fact one of the biggest importers of halal products is actually Singapore, and given the country’s good track record in governance and high standards of halal compliance, will help these SMEs access this market to its fullest potential,” he added.

Owned by both Muslims and non-Muslims, AladdinStreet Singapore said its website is essentially a halal e-marketplace that features premium quality products and, halal products that cater to both the B2B and B2C communities. Its halal-certified businesses range from featuring F&B providers to vitamins, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, fashion, among others.

Grace Kong, AladdinStreet Singapore's co-founder and president, added that is not just for Muslims because halal is about making healthier choices for everyone including non-Muslims. Kong added that many people have now become more socially conscious of their consumption patterns, “They want to know what they eat, wear, what they apply on their face, where it comes from and how the animals were treated. It’s about cruelty free, ethical and sustainable consumption too."

One of AladdinStreet Singapore’s merchants is Food Empire, a Singapore-listed company, which has been manufacturing halal-certified instant beverages, frozen food and snacks to Muslim majority markets such as Malaysia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Its partnership with AladdinStreet Singapore is expected to further expand its halal business into Southeast Asia.

Other companies such as Tudung Ku Collection, dri-fit sports hijab designer and seller Juz Demur, and halal cosmetics retailer Note Cosmetics, have also partnered with AladdinStreet Singapore to extend their reach beyond Singapore. All of these merchants hope to increase sales by 40% in the next 12 months, said the spokesperson of AladdinStreet Singapore.

AladdinStreet Singapore said it is creating new markets for halal products beyond food. It also added that halal cosmetics, health and pharmaceuticals are growing markets and cosmetic giants from Europe and Korea are already manufacturing halal cosmetics for Muslim markets.

In terms of its pricing strategy, the e-commerce startup said it is bucking the trend of discounts and flash sales associated with other e-commerce sites because its priority is quality and integrity, and these values are driven by its business integrity checks and stringent halal compliance requirements. In fact, it is rolling out a halal educational programme for merchants to help them better understand these halal compliance requirements.

On the future of AladdinStreet Singapore, former senior Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zainul Abidin Rasheed, said he is optimistic that the e-commerce site will create new brand purpose, values and new avenues for growth, especially now that Singapore is experiencing an economic slowdown.

"Singapore is well-known for its branding as a business and financial centre, both in terms of its integrity and quality standards, and this applies to its halal standards too," said Rasheed.

Meanwhile, Singapore football legend Fandi Ahmad expressed his optimism, “Finally a trusted and a convenient one-stop e-commerce site for halal and quality products for me and my family."