Yo-Ren, a Hong Kong retail technology company, announced that it has secured $11 million USD in a new funding round and that it plans to use these funds too expand into Malaysia and Thailand. The new round of funding was led by Japanese corporations Lawson’s and T-Gaia Corporation.
Yo-Ren has been a go-to shopping destination for people in China who want to buy Japanese fashion and the company claims to have 7.5 million customers.
To support its China operations, Yo-Ren designs, develops, and operates smart phone-based customer management programs and provides retailers with social network services, e-commerce website planning and operations, customer database management and data analysis, and marketing strategies based on user characteristics.
Besides expanding into Southeast Asia, the company is using the money to enhance its technology for an OMO strategy. OMO is a term that is not commonly used in Southeast Asia but it means Online-Merge-Offline.
An example of OMO are convenience stores and shops that are fully automated and do not have staff. People pick items from shelves, pay using digital payments systems and then walk out with the items they purchased. Alibaba and Amazon have made these types of stores famous in China and the US and there are similar types of kiosks being planned for JR Railway stations throughout Japan.
OMO involves mixing a variety of technology systems together including customer authentication and payment systems, data systems and analysis, inventory and delivery systems and all of these systems are tied together through robust Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.
Yo-Ren wrote the following in a press announcement: “We foresee the optimal use of digital environments as a service and big data gathered from increasingly connected networks as critical up-and-coming managerial problems.”
Osamu Kaneda, who had previously worked for Chinese e-commerce giant, JD.com, established Yo-Ren in 2011. Kaneda has said that the goal of Yo-Ren is to become a next-generation retailer in China and provide customers with a path to better products and then rollout Yo-Ren across Southeast Asia.
The new funding allows Yo-Ren to take multiple steps towards its goal. There’s money available for technology development as well as funds for expansion into Malaysia and Thailand and other countries in the future.