Royal Mail gives Market Engine a 'multimillion-dollar' funding boost

The UK's postal service provider, Royal Mail, has invested an undisclosed amount into Melbourne-based startup Market Engine.

Melbourne-based startup Market Engine has secured a "multimillion-dollar" investment backing from the United Kingdom's postal service provider Royal Mail.

The newly raised capital is in addition to the first funding round that the company received from Australian-based investors, which totalled AU$1.4 million.

Market Engine helps ecommerce businesses control price, brand, quality, and stock through direct online shops in different markets across the world using its market management system (MMS). The MMS has been designed to give real-time management functionality in British pounds and Australian dollars, and translates that into a country's local language and currency depending on where the ecommerce shop front is.

Speaking to ZDNet, Market Engine co-founder Nathan Ruff said the company will use the extra funding to bolster its existing operations in China with additional team members, particularly around customer service and support as the company brings more Western brands to the market.

"Obviously we need to make sure [the Western brands] are getting full coverage and service in market," he said.

The funding will also be used to expand its Australian team, and potentially help fund the expansion of the company in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada, Ruff said.

In China, the company has already helped brands including Malaysia-based Royal Selangor and New Zealand-based Ecostore localise shop fronts on JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall.

Ruff admitted that operating in the Chinese market has been hard, but worthwhile, given that there are nearly 300 million active online customers in the country.

"In terms of finding the barriers and figuring out ways to overcome the barriers, it has to be one of the hardest markets to work through.

"It has taken us 20 months to be able to provide an end-to-end solution, which allows brands to basically engage us, use our platform, set up an ecommerce presence over there, manage it in real time, get full transparency, and control, which is critical in China.

"Obviously, there are grey channels, authenticity issues, and there is also price control."

Earlier this year, Alibaba Group and Microsoft signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen anti-counterfeit measures on its ecommerce platforms Tabao marketplace and Tmall.com.

Last July, JD.com was accused of selling counterfeit products, and swiftly pulled the counterfeit products from its online store.

Ruff added that the company is also looking to create an aggregator model of its MMS product with a number of national postal services around the world, including Australia Post, Canada Post, and Nord Post.

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