Retail in SE Asia must evolve to create space for omni-channel play

Retail in SE Asia must evolve to create space for omni-channel play

Retail in SE Asia must evolve to create space for omni-channel play


(This article was originally published in Enterprise – link)

The growing influence of eCommerce has made brick and mortar brands rethink their strategy in terms of reaching out to customers. With Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba investing in Lazada, opening online shops in Indonesia and Softbank investing heavily in Tokopedia (Indonesia’s most popular online marketplace); it is quite an exciting time for the eCommerce eco-system in South East Asia. According to Priceza Group, the SE Asia region is set to become the third largest eCommerce market, after China and India, in the next five years.

While mature eCommerce markets such as China and USA are speedily moving towards a model, the SE Asian market still sees the model co-existing alongside marketplaces and offline stores.

The West has seen the rise of the omni-channel retailer and SE Asia is quickly warming to the idea of an omni-channel play by merging both online and offline retail. Matahari Mall in Indonesia is a classic example of how successful this model can be. Ever since Matahari Mall entered the market with its Online to Offline (O2O) concept, its adoption has become an interesting debate all over the country.

To capture more market share; many brick & mortar stores have opened online shops and vice versa. This trend is expected to gain momentum in the coming years.

To stay relevant in the market, brands must engage with their customers on various retail touch points, provide an excellent shopping experience online and offline and ensure brand recall through visibility. Modern shoppers hop between channels for even a single order, by choosing what they want online, looking for the best deals and selecting modes of payment and deliveries.

Among the first to acknowledge the importance of omni-channel retail, Zalora opened the first digital interactive pop up stores in South East Asia. At these stores, customers can try on the displayed apparel, pay for the products at check-out, and have their items delivered home.

To go omni-channel, brands in SE Asia need to develop integrated communication strategies to provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers. The whole purchasing journey should be carefully considered; from research to in-store purchases, to building sustainable relationship with customers through loyalty programs, amplifying new promotions to drive future sales and integrating both offline and online touchpoints to relay a uniform message. It is imperative for brands to utilize their eCommerce sites, social media pages, mailing lists, their mobile apps and influencers to leverage the brands’ visibility and engagement.

Being almost uncharted territory, SE Asia is now a gold mine for the eCommerce industry. The region will play witness to aggressive competition and new creative business models in near future. Another eventuality is the entry of key global players in the market. According to a survey done by SP eCommerce, Singapore with a total of 1Bn USD in eCommerce sales has 60% of it being raked in through Cross border commerce. According to a survey by the real estate firm JLL, Singapore with its multi-cultural consumers and strong supply chain network, is the third most attractive city for international brands looking to expand in the Asia-Pacific region.

The next few years will see the emergence and adoption of next-generation channel management platforms. These products will help brands enable Omni-Channel retailing across all major marketplaces, while also offering traditional programme benefits such as dynamic optimization engine and plug and play integration with multiple first – and third-party data sources for better targeting, personalization and optimization. During this transition era, the role of retailers is expected to change as the eCommerce market expands, and how the companies manage this change is very critical towards their survival.

Planning to set up your omni-channel business? We can help.


Ace Turtle
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