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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

VMLY&R Singapore launches global commerce accelerator programme

Singapore – Global marketing agency VMLY&R Singapore has launched the global commerce accelerator programme in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). 

The commerce accelerator programme will be based in Singapore and is aimed at developing commerce and commercial advisory services for the agency’s clients around the world. 

It will bring to life three new commerce innovation projects, including IMPACT™, an in-store touchpoint planning platform, OhMyCart™, a disruptive path to e-commerce for small retailers and social sellers, and the agency’s own Commercial Growth Advisory, a Data Driven Commercial Growth Consultancy for Incremental Growth.

VMLY&R will also ramp up its team in Singapore by appointing over 20 new hires across a variety of roles in commerce research and innovation, including commercial consultants, commerce planners, data analysts and engineers, CRM specialists, cloud solution architects among others.

Hari Ramanathan, chief executive officer at VMLY&R South and Southeast Asia and Japan said, “Commerce is an integral part of our key service offerings. We believe that accelerating growth across not only the more traditional commerce channels that agencies have worked on, but expanding through Commercial Growth Advisory and Commercial Marketing, are key to converting an entire consumer journey at the point of sale, ensuring we not only have influence to get people there, but to complete the transaction as well.” 

He added, “Anchoring the program in Singapore will allow us to enhance our capabilities quicker and at scale, and help Singapore remain at the forefront of the Commerce evolution.”

Meanwhile, Junie Fo, vice president and head of commercial and professional services at EDB, commented, “We are delighted to have VMLY&R launch their global commerce accelerator Programme in Singapore, which will unlock new value for brands and create new opportunities for advertising and marketing talent. VMLY&R’s new offering will further strengthen Singapore’s position as an innovative global marketing hub.”

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Marketing Featured East Asia

AnyMind Group opens up new office in Shenzhen

Shenzhen, China – End-to-end commerce enablement company AnyMind Group has announced the opening of a branch office and commencement of operations in Shenzhen, China. As part of the new office opening, Ben Chien, managing director of Greater China, will oversee the Shenzhen office and lead the team there.

AnyMind Group’s Shenzhen office will also provide additional means for the company to hire engineering and product development talent from Mainland China. They can decide to be situated across the company’s four engineering hubs including Tokyo, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangalore, joining the company’s multinational development team of 20 nationalities from Asia, MENA, Europe and Latin America. 

This is AnyMind Group’s 19th office across 13 markets including Southeast Asia, East Asia, India and the Middle East. The company, which started operations in Singapore in April 2016, is now headquartered in Japan.

Chien joined AnyMind Group in 2018 through the acquisition of Hong Kong-based Acqua Media, a company he founded, and has been leading the company’s Greater China business including remotely working with businesses in Mainland China. 

He said, “We’re well-positioned to meet the unique needs of app publishers in Mainland China, where monetization is not just focused around advertising but also e-commerce and other channels. In time, we will expand our offerings in Mainland China that have already received great traction across Asia, providing our customers with core business infrastructure to advance the next generation of commerce.” 

Chien added, “In addition, we can already support businesses in Mainland China for cross-border expansion, and will be able to support our customers outside of Mainland China to tap into this growing and unique market.”

Meanwhile, Kosuke Sogo, CEO and co-founder at AnyMind Group, commented, “Under Ben’s entrepreneurial leadership, we have steadily grown the Greater China region over the years and I’m entrusting him to now scale our distinctive mix of technology and offerings into Mainland China, furthering our move to advance next-generation commerce across Asia. As a company, we’re always creating new value for our customers, not just through our technology, but also in opening up new possibilities for them, such as tapping into new markets to grow.”

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

VMLY&R Asia names Nick Pan as new chief commerce and strategy officer

Singapore – Global marketing agency VMLY&R has appointed Nick Pan as chief commerce & strategy officer at VMLY&R Asia, continuing the firm’s focus on commerce capabilities across Asia. In his new role, Pan will lead VMLY&R Asia’s strategic thrust in combining commerce & strategy, leveraging Brand Experience (BX) and Customer Experience (CX) to drive business growth and commercial outcomes for brands, in a customer-centric world that is challenged by fragmented channels and touchpoints. Pan will directly to Yi-Chung Tay, chief executive officer of VMLY&R Asia. 

Pan has worked for VMLY&R Asia for 13 years, beginning in strategy, planning, and intelligence and now leading the region’s Commerce capacity. He has also driven digital marketing in the region, specializing in social media and digital discoverability. Since joining the network in 2009, he has handled varied portfolios across Project Delivery, Digital Strategy, Business Consulting and Commerce.

Commenting on his appointment, Pan said, “Creating connected brands is the essence of VMLY&R’s ethos and has always been what motivates me to deliver the right strategy and solutions for clients. Advancements in Commerce offer so many exciting opportunities for clients and ramping up our capabilities means we can meet our clients’ evolving and varied needs to drive growth.”

The evolution of VMLY&R Commerce and the expansion of CX and Commerce capabilities have been a major part of the network’s considerable growth trajectory over the past two years, which saw revenues double and headcount triple. Nick Pan’s new role is a commitment to commerce as a continued catalyst for growth and is strategically aligned with Camellia Tan’s recent elevation to chief network growth officer of VMLY&R Asia.

Meanwhile, Yi-Chung Tay, CEO of VMLY&R Asia, commented, “The expansion of CX and Commerce capabilities have played a major part in VMLY&R Asia’s exponential growth over the past two years, reaping benefits most importantly for our clients and in turn for our network. It’s the ultimate proof of effectiveness, closing the ‘infinity loop’ of BX, CX & Commerce to deliver sales that are a direct result of communications.”

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Upmesh launches mobile cross-platform streaming app

Singapore – Live commerce enabler Upmesh has announced the launch of ‘Upmesh Live’, a cross-platform live selling mobile application which is a first in Southeast Asia.

Upmesh Live allows sellers to create personalised overlays in their live streams without the need for any prior technical knowledge, allowing them to integrate customisable branded content such as customizable graphics, brand imagery and professional content tools within minutes. 

Through the app, sellers are now able to further achieve virality and engage with their communities on top of real-time order management provided by Upmesh.

The Upmesh Live application is only compatible with Android 8.0 and above as well as ios 11.0 and above

Sellers go live on social media platforms such as Facebook Live or Instagram Live, and Upmesh captures orders through a merchant’s live stream comments and incentivises the buyers to share through discovery, giveaways and drip messaging.

“Upmesh is committed to constantly launching new engaging and interactive features that aim to enable live commerce merchants to reach their full sales and creative potential through multi-channel discovery and sharing to unlock value and virality,” the company said in a press statement.

Wong Zi Yang, CEO and co-founder at Upmesh, said, “While there is much more work to be done, we are committed to pushing the boundaries of the ever-changing retail landscape that we are in, and we’re thrilled to be expanding further to help live sellers across SEA grow their businesses and create a new future for e-commerce through innovative products such as Upmesh Live.”

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

SariSuki bags US$7.1m funding, to expand to quick commerce

Manila, Philippines – Local social commerce startup SariSuki has successfully raised US$7.1m, aimed at driving the startup’s expansion into the quick commerce scene. The funding round was led by Openspace, Susquehanna International Group (SIG), Global Founders Capital (GFC), Saison Capital, JG Digital Equity Ventures, and Foxmont Capital Partners.

In total, SariSuki has earned a total of US$10.5m in funding. Furthermore, the new funding will be used to increase the business’ product assortment, dark warehouses, and geographic expansion.

The startup is founded by Bam Mejia as chief commercial officer, Philippe Lorenzo as chief operating officer, Angelo Lee as head of strategy and fundraising and Brian Cu as chief executive officer. For SariSuki, hyper-convenience is a key strategy in breaking down more barriers to e-commerce adoption and creating an end-to-end e-grocery platform.

Cu said, “We are a set of founders that grew up in the Philippines and have an understanding of our market. This, combined with our background in scaling up large tech companies in the region, made us realise that we can do more with the supply chain infrastructure we have built. Quick commerce is a way for us to expand into serving the segment of our market that seeks hyper-convenience for a hyper-local product mix for their daily needs.”

SariSuki started in 2021 with a mission to empower communities with more options to shop for high quality groceries online – which it achieves by buying fresh produce in bulk from local farmers and offering them to the local community at a discounted price.

To address long-existing supply chain inefficiencies, SariSuki adopts an agent-assisted model, servicing its consumers through ‘Community Leaders’. Members of communities who set up their business as a ‘Community Leader’ see meaningful income expansion as they profit from selling produce whilst performing the last mile fulfilment. This model has enabled SariSuki to offer supermarket quality products at wet market prices.

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

What’s NEXT: Shoppable Content: The convergence of content and commerce

Crossing Over to Shoppable Content

As far as internet real estate goes, digital marketing has become a much more precise science. It’s no longer an open house where anyone can come in and salespeople can only hope that the right people would notice the high ceilings or marble countertop and be convinced enough to take the deal. These days, marketers bring the content right in front of their audience in an experience as personal as any, the digital analogy of leading the consumer right toward the cash register. Shoppability isn’t just a new catchphrase. In the world of content, it is the new normal.

The Consumer Conversion

In narrowing the gap between commerce and consumer, big brands are moving from a publisher model into an e-commerce one. Consider the biggest merchants in the world. They all become media at one stage. They have journalists in-house that produce numerous articles and videos, becoming brand publishers in the process.

Net-a-Porter, for example, has become more of a magazine online than a retailer. Amazon is now a media company that produces content all around the world. L’Oréal has invested tens of millions of euros to build platforms like hair.com and skincare.com. Those websites attract a lot of traffic which enable L’Oréal to gain traction and build up visibility among their users with free organic visits. 

On the other hand, those who are already in publishing, like Allure or Refinery29, are looking at newer ways to gain revenue from their audience beyond the unpredictability of paid advertising. Through the years, they have come up with more than 10,000 product reviews from different brands around the world. They aggregate those product reviews to develop search-based content, SEO traffic, and organic visitors for free from Google and eventually convert them to shoppers. So, when the audience discovers a product via Allure.com, they’re redirected immediately towards e-commerce websites like Walmart or Clinique. Allure then earns some commission based on the traffic and conversations that they’ve generated to the brand. 

The need to drive those organic visitors into shoppers has led to a convergence between content and commerce. In the last six months, there has been a massive transformation of online platforms into e-commerce websites. It’s become a formula to drive value, engagement, and sales. 

Becoming Shoppable

In the foreseeable future, more and more companies will be adopting this strategy into their brand.com websites, turning them into shoppable platforms. They will take their existing content management systems, embed seek-out, needs-based content for users, and add products within those pages. The result is a richer, dynamic, personal experience that engages the audience – and conveniences them – while giving significant commercial benefits to brands. 

How it works is that you take an audience-attracting piece of content, like an article. The article contextually features advertising based on a keyword on the page by displaying smart product placements based on an algorithm that is carefully chosen by the merchant or brand. Then and there, the audience can ‘add to cart’ without going through the hoops of multiple redirections or manually inputting a separate site. 

Allure and L’Oréal are only a few of the brands that are now relying on this formula. With shoppable content, the consumer is captive right at the moment of influence. For example, IKEA’s revolutionary augmented reality app, which lets users see how its products would look in their space, allows customers to buy that particular piece right then and there.

The aforementioned luxury retailer Net-a-Porter takes things further by turning even the analogue into a shoppable channel. The Edit is its weekly digital magazine that expectedly leads the audience to product pages upon clicking on editorial layouts. However, Porter is an actual, tangible print magazine. When readers scan over the images with the Net-a-Porter app, they can immediately purchase the featured products. 

Taobao has attracted millions of shoppers via live stream shopping. YouTube has installed a direct-response ad format with browsable product thumbnails underneath the video. Pinterest has turned its top-performing organic Pins into shoppable ads. TikTok has launched an integrated shopping feature, virtual teleshopping, and even dance contests that link to in-app purchasing. 

The progression of social media as a shoppable content venue is as organic as they come. It has a built-in audience that depends on social media channels for entertainment, inspiration, and now a procurement of those first two. Yet, these are only the tip of the iceberg when coming up with shoppable solutions for content. 

A More Meaningful Experience

When a company makes more engaging content and realises its commercial potential, it does not only benefit the brand but the consumer as well. Using performance-driven data offers consumers a more personalised and authentic journey. These numbers instigate a better understanding of people and their behaviours and inspire content that is much more relatable. 

Content marketing answers people’s questions at the right place and at the right time. Shoppable content takes that a step further – presenting benefits for everyone in the journey. It is as measurable as it is personal. It’s not just the next big thing. It’s here, now. 

This article is written by Sven Lung, CEO & founder of performance-driven content agency Green Park Content.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

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Technology Featured East Asia

Accenture to acquire Japan-based commerce CX agency Tambourine

Tokyo, Japan – Global professional services Accenture has announced that it will be acquiring Tambourine, a Japanese-based commerce customer experience (CX) agency. Said terms of the transaction were not disclosed as of this moment.

The company, founded in 2015, provides integrated commerce services on the Salesforce platform. It delivers customer experience design and engineering, develops web services and applications, and offers consultancy services to optimize customer touchpoints. 

Tambourine already has a proven track record in using Salesforce Commerce Cloud to deliver seamless commerce experiences for consumer goods and entertainment companies in Japan. 

Through the acquisition, Tambourine will enhance the world-class suite of sales and commerce transformation services, from product and platform engineering, to omnichannel delivery of commerce experiences. 

Speaking about the acquisition, Flaviano Faleiro, president for growth markets at Accenture Interactive, said, “Brands understand that when they respond to new consumer behaviors with a seamless commerce experience, it makes them more relevant and valuable. The combination of Tambourine and Accenture Interactive will further enhance our ability to leverage creativity, technology and deep human insights to accelerate growth of our clients.” 

Tambourine is the latest in a series of acquisitions that Accenture has made to rapidly scale commerce expertise and excellence, including Experity in Brazil, Glamit in Argentina and Openmind in Italy. In Asia, the company had also acquired Malaysia-based marketing consulting/agency Entropia.

Atsushi Egawa, Accenture’s market unit lead for Japan, said, “Digital customer experience and brand reputation is so closely intertwined that it can impact a company’s growth. In considering ways to deliver the best of commerce experiences, brands are turning to data and the cloud for leverage. By weaving in Tambourine’s unique offerings into Accenture’s, we will continue to help accelerate our clients’ growth.”

Meanwhile, Tatsuya Nakao, CEO of Tambourine, commented, “Tambourine is founded on the premise of achieving excellent outcomes as a team. Now, as part of Accenture, we look forward to extending our digital commerce expertise across the entire customer experience and work closely together to create [a] deep impact for our clients.”

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Platforms Featured Global

Shopify meets Spotify: latest partnership introduces ‘virtual merch table’ for artists

Sydney, Australia – Global commerce platform Shopify and global audio streaming platform Spotify have entered a strategic partnership that allows music artists to expand beyond music and traditional merch to build fully realized brands, all with the capabilities of both platforms in their own specialities.

Using the Spotify channel, artists can introduce products to the place where listeners and fans are already engaging with their music most. By connecting their Spotify for Artists accounts with their Shopify online stores, artists can sync their product catalogues and seamlessly showcase products of their choice directly on their Spotify profiles, making it easy for fans to browse and purchase. 

Said feature period is currently in beta testing, and is available to users across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.

“Shopify is already powering the online stores of local and international acts, and the Spotify integration will further empower Aussie and Kiwi artists to showcase their unique talent, brand or creativity, and engage their fans even more effectively,” said Shaun Broughton, managing director for APAC at Shopify.

With Shopify, artist-entrepreneurs have access to an all-in-one commerce platform to manage their brands across multiple touchpoints that not only include leading social and entertainment channels and marketplaces, but now one of the most popular audio streaming services in the world.

“For new artists, Shopify is an easy-to-use, all-in-one commerce platform to start, grow and manage their brands. For artists with large followings and pre-existing businesses, Shopify’s world-class infrastructure effortlessly handles high volumes of traffic, key sales moments, and highly anticipated product drops,” Shopify said in a press statement.

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Marketing Featured APAC

dentsu APAC, TikTok inks tie-up to help brands win on the short-video platform

Singapore – Creative and communications network dentsu in Asia-Pacific and leading short-video platform TikTok has newly forged a regional partnership, aimed at driving media and commerce excellence for clients. The partnership, which has already been kickstarted in SEA, will enable dentsu clients to leverage TikTok’s strengths as a platform to deliver best-in-class capabilities across commerce, creativity, and creator marketing to drive brand outcomes at scale.

A key aspect of the partnership is the ‘Test with TikTok’ program which brings together leading performance specialists from dentsu and product innovators from TikTok to test several performance and commerce hypotheses on the platform.

With a fixed set of exclusive clients on the pipeline, dentsu clients will enjoy access to new features and best practice optimization opportunities on TikTok to uncover new learnings. The agency said that efforts around this initiative are already underway where select dentsu clients are currently participating in an exclusive hypothesis test around the effectiveness of different audience strategies on the platform.

Delilah Chan, head of channel revenue partnerships for SEA at TikTok, shared that through the collaboration, dentsu’s clients will be getting custom product testing opportunities, giving them actionable insights that present advantage when developing growth strategies on the TikTok platform.

“We are delighted to partner with dentsu as by complementing the strengths of our two organizations – TikTok’s product and platform capabilities with dentsu’s world-class performance and commerce capabilities, we can truly put the needs of the clients at the heart of our partnership,” said Chan.

Sunil Naryani, dentsu APAC’s president for product, commercials & partnerships, further shared that more than 10 client tests are already in the works and the longer-term objective is for these tests and best practices to culminate into client-centric commerce and performance strategies on the TikTok platform. 

“Genuine commitment between dentsu and TikTok has allowed us to expand our partnership beyond standard training programs into progressive and tangible areas of product testing for performance and commerce outcomes. We appreciate the strong collaboration from TikTok with dentsu advertisers for exclusive hypothesis testing and generating actionable insights on their platform through the ‘Test with TikTok’ program,” said Naryani.

The APAC division of dentsu has also recently announced a new integrated solution focused on gaming. The new ‘dentsu gaming’ aims to bring together the extensive gaming heritage and expertise of the dentsu Japan network with the global scale and specialist capabilities within dentsu international. 

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Technology Featured APAC

Optimizely boosts DXP with launch of ‘Data Core Service’

New York, USA – New York-headquartered Optimizely, a provider of digital experience platform solutions, has launched ‘Data core service’ which enhances its digital experience platform (DXP) to provide deeper analytics and unified data insights across its suite of products. 

With Data core service, Optmizely aims to provide companies a greater understanding of their customers, as well as their overall digital business performance. The new service will be available to Optimizely cloud customers by Q1 2022, and will be included at no charge, subject to 250K MAU’s usage limit, for customers who are implementing one or more of its solutions which include Content Cloud, Commerce Cloud, B2B Commerce Cloud, and Experimentation. 

Optimizely said that Data core service will serve as the ‘connective tissue’ for its users, unifying data to serve as the ‘underlying force’ across content-centric, commerce-centric, and experimentation use cases, as well as customer profiling. 

Data core service also provides common context, helping companies bring data across Optimizely into a centralized place and gain access to dashboards and analytics on how their digital business is performing. Ultimately, data core service aims to help companies deliver the right experience at the right time by providing visibility into their digital properties. 

During the company’s virtual Opticon21 event, Justin Anovick, Optimizely’s chief product officer, said that the best DXP must be adaptable and that organizations shouldn’t have to manage disparate data sets or question where the single source of data truth is when developing their tech stack. 

“With the launch of Data core service, we’re giving customers full visibility into their data without sacrificing composability,” said Anovick. 

The service launch follows the company’s unification of the Optimizely and software Episerver brand and the acquisition of customer data platform Zaius in March 2021. 

Optimizely has a global presence with offices in APAC including in Australia, Singapore, and Vietnam.