Main Feature Marketing Featured

Don’t just sell online: Listen, audit, and transform the journey

The retail landscape in APAC is very diverse and distinct from the rest of the world and has evolved considerably since the onset of Covid-19. The global pandemic has led to an explosive growth in the e-commerce industry, with consumers across the APAC region having shifted their shopping habits online to cater for life under pandemic related-lockdowns and restrictions. These new behaviors are here to stay.

Malaysia is the digital pulse

At the current rate of e-commerce growth, Malaysia is set to become the ASEAN digital pulse. With strong government support, the country has paved its way into e-commerce acceleration. A young population and social media growth have also aided the development of e-commerce in Malaysia. 

Reprise in collaboration with Google, recently released a consumer study into online shoppers buying behavior and preferences across the APAC region, interviewing 13,000 shoppers. The study uncovered that 66% of online shoppers in Malaysia are willing to try new brands and may not be loyal to any one brand, while perceived value for money and promotions are the second reason Malaysians prefer to shop online.

Infographic from Reprise

Meanwhile, the most common reason, apart from shipping fee/time, for not buying products online across all product categories is the ‘inability to touch and feel before buying.’ This was also the reason cited by more than half of online shoppers for buying clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Promos, browsing offline & what we see is what we want

Malaysians are hungrier than the rest of their Southeast Asian counterparts, and the growth statistics demonstrate it. The frequency of buying is much higher in Malaysia compared to the APAC average, and rather than impulse, Malaysian online purchases are promo-driven. Two key things that are seen happening are that women are more experimental, and men are more loyal; and Malaysians prefer to browse offline before coming home to buy online.

Reprise infographic-2
Infographic from Reprise

The study looks at some categories of interest. With grocery, it is observed that Malaysians are most concerned about the look and feel of final products compared to what is shown. This is an indicator that the category needs to evolve more as Malaysians are disappointed when they do not receive what they perceived to see.

The study also indicates that categories like pet food, toys, health & beauty, and automotive do not require store trials as much as categories like furniture, appliances, and fashion, which shows there are numerous opportunities for brands to grow the commerce route for themselves, now more than ever. This indicates that while some categories have evolved to not require store trials, more categories will likely follow suit with greater usage of augmented reality and other technologies which will improve and enhance the virtual shopping experience.

The customer journey is the holy grail

What all of this shows is that consumers expect the same level of experience across platforms, regardless of whether they are online or offline. It boils down to how the experience is crafted online and requires thought to go into it, much more than just listing and selling, for the brand to create an overall online shopping experience. This experience is what brands need to focus on heavily, beyond media.

With this growth in e-commerce, brands need to now look at replicating the physical store experience for consumers, to ensure customers don’t drop off in the time it takes them to move from in-store to home. While growth in e-commerce means there is a need to create new channels for brands, with or without minimal cannibalization of existing channels, there is a bigger need for brands to look at their entire journey. 

Auditing the complexities of e-retail

In today’s world, the e-retail space has tangled into one another, making the customer journey more complicated – e.g. mobile searches when in a retail outlet prior to making an offline purchase for price comparison. However, navigating through these complexities is possible when brands dig deep to evaluate their media and non-media assets. By starting with the website and marketplace brand stores which are their flagship stores online, brands can ensure that potential customers have a smooth e-retail experience overall.

A priority for brands should be in minimizing and eliminating points of friction to create an ideal shopping experience. Malaysian consumers have indicated that the shipping and returns process are top pain points.

Build trust, reviews matter

With 46% of online shoppers emphasizing product information for making purchase decisions, optimizing product content on marketplaces has become critical for brands to stand out in the cluttered environment. Every 1 in 2 Malaysians do their product research online using social media platforms, and almost 40% of the online shoppers also refer to online search portal for the same. Which brings the question – how can brands capture the imagination of people online, and how can they maintain trust?

Media channels have evolved to cater to e-commerce with every major digital advertising platform having commerce suites, hence brand engagement, creativity, and innovation continue to be key differentiators. Brands can further build trust by tackling information asymmetry, and consistently displaying content that is true and accurate.

Part of the onus also lies with consumers, as people constantly seek reviews as a key parameter for purchase. The survey indicates that reviews on the website are just as important as those on marketplaces. This is an area of opportunity for brands as good brand reviews will improve customer satisfaction scores and sales.

Brands can empower customers to leave reviews, respond to these reviews, and ensure an ideal brand health score online. In the survey, it is seen especially across the toys and consumer electronics categories, with social media and the online retailer website being the top two sources for research across the category.

The right people & the right strategy

The biggest challenge for brands when it comes to e-commerce is in crafting the e-retail experience, customer engagement, and omnichannel marketing strategy. Additional investments are needed, in terms of resources and talents, however, there is often a lack of proper structure around how each related department works together. While there is an intent to craft the e-commerce strategy, a lack of knowledge is often one of the biggest hurdles.

To overcome this, brands need to focus on a holistic platform strategy to drive a smooth, frictionless e-commerce experience. The role of media will of course remain crucial to driving consumers to brand stores whether D2C or e-retail, but the experience of shopping online will decide the level of success brands can expect to see in e-commerce.

Consumer behavior as we know it from offline retail may change when it comes to e-commerce. The digital e-commerce consumer is likely to behave very differently across existing channels, and there is a need for marketeers to study these digital behaviors to craft the experience. Brands also need to cater to the right information at the right place by having a strong content strategy in place. For agencies working with brands, the objective is to understand e-commerce in the context of each business and share an assessment of requirements with brands to form a journey forward.

Remember… experience, experience, experience

Ultimately an e-commerce offering is about providing an experience. How that offline experience is translated online is what distinguishes one agency from another.

Sujith Rao

This article was written by Sujith Rao, managing director of Reprise for performance & tech.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Bridging the gap between digital marketing & e-commerce

With over 350 million digital consumers in Southeast Asia projected by the end of 2021, today’s brands have come to value the importance of digital marketing more than ever. Both in targeting and expanding consumer reach, as well as in getting to know consumers to ensure a smooth purchasing journey.

The importance of investing in digital ad buys is further emphasized by Magna’s Spring 2021 global advertising forecast, which sees the APAC market growing by 12.8% to reach $203b this year, fueled by a 19% rise in digital ad sales.

In parallel, the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia continues to expand at a rapid pace as according to Facebook and Bain & Company’s annual SYNC Southeast Asia report, the region’s overall retail share for e-commerce demonstrated an increase from 5% in 2020 to 9% in 2021, a growth faster than Brazil, China, and India.

With this rapid growth in e-commerce set to continue, brands are looking to balance both e-commerce and digital marketing objectives which often result in a fragmented digital consumer journey and frustrated consumers. One obvious example is using multiple ads to entice target consumers which land them on pages where they cannot proceed to purchase the product advertised, in other words, landing on a dead-end.

As frustrating as this is for the consumer, more so for brands as a valuable opportunity for conversion is missed. Identifying and aligning a common goal across the board will ensure a smoother digital consumer journey, which benefits brands and consumers.

Bridging the gap between commerce and digital assets

For many brands, the explosion in digital touchpoints and methods of purchasing online has led to a disconnect in the message, look, and feel of digital assets across the customer journey. This is typically the result of multiple parties looking after separate parts of the journey, often in isolation.

There are very different ads that communicate the brand story, the product benefits, and those that focus on ‘buy now’. Digital touchpoints include social, video, livestream, influencers, etc., and brands often do not provide consistency across each of these. Online purchase now covers e-commerce marketplaces, social commerce, and more recently quick commerce which again gives rise to very different approaches to the look and feel of these pages.

The challenge facing brands now is how to create this seamless consistency across all the touchpoints, ultimately drawing in the consumer, generating sales, and fostering loyalty.

Comprehensive approach to landing page utilization and optimization

An effective e-commerce landing page should focus on providing consumers with a memorable and effortless buying experience. It is important to have a landing page SEO strategy that focuses on key headlines, quality imagery, and a clear ability to purchase on that page.

Equally important to optimized e-commerce pages, is ensuring that all digital ads across the consumer journey, land directly on the relevant product purchase page. Having the consumer land on a page and being unable to finalize their purchase objective very much defeats the purpose of an e-commerce landing page. The same applies to landing consumers in a part of the store unrelated to the ad they clicked on which adds another step in the journey to purchase and could cause a consumer to abandon the purchase.

Embracing an outcome-driven approach by putting the consumer at the heart of the brand’s e-commerce digital marketing strategy can present multiple amazing opportunities: a seamless consumer experience which will lead to a significant improvement in return on ad spend.

In the mid of back to back Mega Sales campaigns, is it time to reconsider your brand’s approach to ensure you get the most out of the Golden Quarter of Retail?

This article is written by Pichitra Tachanirut, regional head of marketing solutions at Intrepid Group Asia.