91APP, a Taipei-based startup that wants to make it easy for small merchants to launch e-commerce apps, has raised $9 million in series A funding, led by AppWorks with participation by CID Group, NineYi Capital, Hung-tze Jan (founder of PChome, one of Taiwan’s leading e-commerce marketplaces), and Senao chairman Paul Lin.
The company, which claims 1,000 brands currently use its platform, builds mobile commerce iOS and Android apps for its clients, who can then manage inventory and other content through 91APP’s website. The company monetizes by charging a set-up fee of about a few hundred U.S. dollars as well as taking a 2.5 percent to 5 percent cut of transactions performed through the apps.
91APP claims that it only takes a few hours for merchants to set up apps on its platform, making it easier and less expensive than developing them in-house.
In an interview with TechCrunch last year, founder Steven Ho said that apps built by his startup include standard features like inventory listings and a shopping cart, but also allow merchants to add extras, like location-based push notifications, integration with Facebook, and O2O functions including in-app loyalty cards they can use for discounts and other promotions at a merchant’s brick-and-mortar store. 91APP’s backend includes analytics that help sellers track which products are performing best.
Ho’s track record as a founder include launching startups that were subsequently sold to eBay and Yahoo. These include auction site bid.com.tw, which was founded in 1998 and acquired by eBay in 2002, and retail marketplace Monday Tech, which was purchased in 2008 by Yahoo.
In addition to Taiwan, 91APP is also focused on expansion in Southeast Asia, where many people access the Internet exclusively through their mobile devices, making apps especially crucial for merchants who want to launch an e-commerce business.