Employee Cards & Claims

How HipVan Scaled Rapidly As SEA’s Top Furniture Retailer, Powered By Aspire's Finance Stack

Published on
September 12, 2022
— Aspire Journey
saved per year
saved per year
Before Aspire
  • Time-consuming to manage growing e-commerce expenses as HipVan scales rapidly
  • Lack of perks despite frequent bulk payments to e-commerce suppliers
  • Low visibility and blind spending with lack of finance automation
After Aspire
  • Easy and fast purchasing with the Aspire card, saving HipVan 550 hours annually
  • Total of $11,000 in annual cashback earnings by using Aspire Cards for payments to overseas suppliers in China
  • Track and manage spend in real-time; actionable budget insights with zero paperwork
Company Size
Danny Tan, Shobhit Datta, Deborah Wee
Online Merchants
Case study focus
Expense Management

The Company: E-commerce Furniture Platform With An Edge 

Founded in 2013, HipVan is a cutting-edge e-commerce furniture platform that provides consumers in Singapore and beyond with curated products that range from sofas & dining sets to lifestyle offerings. They work directly with suppliers and designers to provide well-designed products at competitive prices with up to 70% off retail prices.

The Challenges: Big Goals Hampered By Growing Pains 

#1 Unable to make quick purchasing decisions

When purchasing furnishing products from suppliers, the procurement team used to make payments using bank transfers. The process was long and time consuming:

  1. Generate a purchase order
  2. Get approvals from management
  3. Release payments

The whole process took anywhere between 7-14 days to complete. Consequently, the HipVan supply team missed out on flash deals offered by suppliers. Quick payments also assure suppliers, and help build trust over a period of time. In the pre-existing framework, this trust building took a back seat.

"Traditional banking is not too startup and SME-friendly. Aspire really came in and filled that niche. I think the user experience is good and products are tailored to the reality of startups/SMEs based on what they need. Traditional banking is more suited for bigger companies with a lot more hoops to jump through. Aspire is more straightforward to use. We’re happy that there are such options now for startups and SMEs in the region."
Shobhit Datta
Co-founder of HipVan

#2 Lack of real-time visibility and manual processes

Without issuing corporate cards to their team, employees were relegated to using their personal funds or raise POs to pay for business spends, leading to:

  • Time-consuming paperwork
  • Manual processes 
  • Payment delays

Consequently, there was a lack of real-time spend visibility to inform HipVan’s management on the best way forward for the business. Without those insights, the team was unable to forecast spends accurately.

#3 Lack of cost savings opportunities

As an e-commerce business, HipVan made regular payments to overseas suppliers. HipVan only used bank or debit transfers to facilitate these e-commerce payments. While it got the job done, this mode of payment did not reward them for their purchases - not in the way a powerful corporate card would.

HipVan’s in-house delivery team

The Solution: E-commerce Friendly Aspire Cards with In-built Cashback Perks and Spend Limits 

As the pressure mounted on HipVan to stay on top of their sales pipeline, the team turned to Aspire Cards to maximise their inventory spending power and make smarter decisions based on the platform’s actionable budget insights.

#1 Fast & easy supplier payments with Aspire Cards

Much to HipVan’s relief, the team’s long lead times for supplier payments were fixed with Aspire cards. After applying for the Aspire Card, the team was able to set it up in minutes and start using it for inventory purchases. This liberated their supply team to strike time-critical deals, and build more trust with their customers.

Easy payments were just a first order effect. Second order effects included the power to buy in bulk as well as stay ahead of logistics and freight disruptions.

"HipVan is now at an exciting stage of growth where we have received funding and are looking to expand across Southeast Asia. This shifted our focus towards solutions that will help us scale up. Aspire has been instrumental in addressing our cash flow concerns as we are an inventory-led business. By having access to capital with the Aspire Card, we are able to make smooth supplier payments without overspending. We can now invest our cash reserves and cashback savings towards our operating expenses, marketing & more."
Shobhit Datta
Co-founder and Director of Marketing at HipVan

#2 Track card spending in real-time with useful budget insights

Armed with the Aspire Card with adjustable budget limits and merchant locks, the team was able to make instant decisions without overspending. The merchant lock also came in handy as they did not have to worry about paying a supplier outside of the specified list of approved merchants. 

With in-built approval workflows in place, this helped the finance team by reducing paperwork, and boost productivity. Actionable insights that came with using the Aspire Card was instrumental in setting the right budgets that help in maintaining a healthy cash flow for the business.

This saved HipVan an average of 550 hours a year on bill processing alone.

#3 Increased cost savings on payments to e-commerce suppliers

With Aspire, HipVan could now enjoy 1% cashback on their regular supplier payments to e-commerce vendors based overseas with the power of Aspire Cards. 

HipVan is able to make their supplier payments stretch further than before as they could re-invest the cashback earnings back into the business. These e-commerce friendly features do wonders for HipVan, helping them earn as much as $11,000 in annual cashback.

The Outcome: Full Speed Ahead For HipVan

Overall, they managed to generate cashback on e-commerce supplier payments, enjoyed a boost in productivity and set spend limits with ease. Best of all, Aspire Cards gave them the purchasing power they needed to grow quickly, while maintaining healthy relationships with their suppliers.

"With the help of Aspire, HipVan is able to supercharge our finances as we no longer have cash flow issues that might impact our bottom line or force us to dilute our equity. Our payments to suppliers never hit a snag, allowing us to focus on maximizing revenue and saving costs via cashback to make the most out of every dollar spent."
Shobhit Datta
Co-founder and Director of Marketing at HipVan
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