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Royal Mail invests in an Aussie tech start-up that helps Western businesses enter China


Australian start-up Market Engine has secured a multi‐million dollar investment by Royal Mail, the UK’s designated Universal Postal Service Provider and one of the largest postal service providers in Europe.

This newly raised capital will be put towards Market Engine’s continued expansion into international markets, scaling its marketing efforts, and further developing the company’s proprietary technology platform.

Market Engine’s technology enables brands to reach new customers in international marketplaces – including the 700 million Internet users in China – through a fully translated online shopfront. With local retail sales in decline for the first time in 14 months, looking to cross border trade for new sales channels is a strategy being adopted by an increasing number of B2C brands.

Adrian Giles, Market Engine’s chairman, said, “We’re pleased to have the support of such a well-respected international institution. Royal Mail’s investment is a big vote of confidence in our technology and business model, and demonstrates the overwhelming interest Western businesses have in penetrating growing economies like China’s.”

Nick Landon, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels, said, “I’m excited to announce our investment in Market Engine. We think we can leverage our scale and expertise to help Market Engine expand and accelerate its entrance into new markets, while identifying opportunities to incorporate its tech within Royal Mail’s existing operations.”

What is the story behind Market Engine?

Roy Hui started a business called MyMedia in 2007 which specialised in online retail platforms and E-commerce technology. “About 20 months ago, clients started enquiring to us about cross border retail, which was when the Chinese market places started to open up global market places,” he told Anthill.

“Seeing the massive amount of western product sold in these market places, through grey channels made us aware there was huge demand but no control leavers in place for brands to manage price, product, supply, safety and brand,” Roy said about what inspired him to build Market Engine.

Nathan Ruff joined the business, and it was rebranded Market Engine with a focus on enabling brands to trade and build an online retail presence into China.

“Over that time we have been developing and working through all barriers to offer a full managed retail, customer service, marketing and logistics solution for our brands.”

How is Market Engine doing so far? “Very good,” Roy says. “We have doubled the size of the local and Chinese team, are about to open up an office in Canada and UK and are currently working with over 50 Australian and NZ brands to date.”

“We also underwent a round one capital raise 1.2 million in 2014,” he further revealed.

Royal Mail’s investment is the latest in a series of significant wins for the Melbourne‐based technology startup. Market Engine has helped brands such as Malaysia-based Royal Selangor, Kiwi company Ecostore, and the local Vitality Brands to launch localised storefronts on Alibaba’s Tmall and JD online retail platforms in China.

Market Engine is also working with a number of national postal services around the world, including Australia Post, Canada Post and Post Nord, to white label its technology.

“There are massive opportunities in China’s booming e‐commerce market and elsewhere. Pairing our technology platform with the postal service’s extensive distribution network removes the traditional barriers of selling products overseas,” said Mr Giles.

What exactly does Market Engine do?

“We are the first in the world to develop a technology platform that allows brands to manage in English and AUD, and then translates/exchanges over to Chinese and RMB,” Roy explained. “There are Chinese based providers that offer similar services such as customer support etc, however this can offer risk with legal territories and insurance.”

Using Market Engine’s unique Market Management System (MMS), businesses can control price, brand, quality and stock through direct online shops in markets across the world.

“We are one of the first Australian based companies that give western based retail brands real time control of price, product, brand and authenticity into the largest online E-commerce market in the world; allowing them to access and deal directly with over 300 million new customers, who have appetitive for western goods.

“We enable western brands to deal directly with Chinese customers through the online largest market places in the world such as Tmall.com and JD.com.

“We do this by providing a technology layer that plugs into market places and so brands can manage price, product, supply, safety and brand. We also offer the best fit logistics options, provide a China based customer service team that supports our clients in market, and a marketing and media team that builds market demand.”