Germany's Rocket Internet is hoping to overcome colossal logistical challenges and growing local competition across global markets to gain customers in emerging markets ahead of e-commerce titans Amazon and Alibaba can catch up.
The company would launch an initial public offer (IPO) this month to raise the funds it would need to build and defend what it hoped would be the largest online shopping empire outside the US and China.
Chief executive Oliver Samwer, who founded Rocket Internet in 2007 with his brothers Alexander and Marc, has set his sights on emerging markets where he sees huge opportunities. He notes that the cities with the most active Facebook users were Bangkok, Jakarta and Istanbul - with no US city in the top 10.
He told a retail conference in June that he liked to collect countries, small markets that together could create a giant.
However, while Rocket Internet had launched about 70 companies - ranging from online fashion to food delivery and marketplaces for real estate across 100 countries, many in the last couple of years, it was still far from being a giant.
Rocket's top eight e-commerce ventures in emerging markets - including Lamoda in Russia, Dafiti in Brazil and Zalora in Southeast Asia - together reported sales of €539 million in 2013 and an operating loss of €351 million, figures from major Swedish investor AB Kinnevik revealed.
Meanwhile, investment bank AB Kinnevik and Rocket Internet AG, investors in Jabong, would merge the Indian online fashion retailer with four other firms to create a new global fashion e-commerce group.
The new entity would be called the Global Fashion Group (GFG) and combine five fashion e-commerce businesses, namely Dafiti (Latin America), Jabong (India), Lamoda (Russia & CIS), Namshi (Middle East) and Zalora (South East Asia & Australia).
The deal would close later this year.
GFG would focus on growth markets, across 23 countries with a fashion market valued at €330 billion and a population of over 2.5 billion.
"GFG will market a wide assortment of leading international apparel and accessories brands, a tailored selection of highly engaging internally developed brands and local assortments developed for specific ethnic markets, notably India, Indonesia and the Middle East," a statement said.
The combination, it added, would deliver economies of scale in sourcing international brands and marketing with global media channels, strengthen private label efforts, enhance ability to attract and retain top talent and accelerate development of technology platforms.