Data from a recent IAB research recently indicates that around 99% of APAC marketers intend to increase their retail media spend this year and retailers have finally realised they are sitting on an untapped goldmine. 

As customers adopt online shopping as the norm, marketers recognise the need to provide a personalised shopping experience and retailers are increasingly monetising access to ad spending across their websites and in-store activity.

Chemist Warehouse, an Australian pharmacy chain, recently aimed to become one of the largest advertising businesses in the country through sponsored ads on their site and in-store out-of-home screens. For a company whose traditional modus operandi was cost-effective access to pharmaceutical goods, advertising across their network now accounts for 20% of their sales. 

However, accessing retail media networks (RMNs) fluidly and at scale, remains a sticking point for marketers. Unlike advertising across the open internet – which allows a brand to access ad space across news websites, blogs, broadcast video-on-demand and music streaming apps with ease – RMNs often close their ecosystem. This is known as a ‘walled garden’. 

And while the market may become saturated with an infinite number of RMNs, their timing and power have never been more evident. Google’s impending (be it at a snail’s pace) third-party cookie deprecation is providing an added boost for retail media networks – especially as most of their USPs lie not just in their ad space, but also their valuable customer data is available for advertising use. 

Singapore-owned Carousell Group, who have premium online e-commerce space including Carousell, OneShift and Revo Financial, seized the opportunity and launched its own Shopping Ads back in 2022; collaborating with brands to acquire new customers and increase sales. Now with 58 million registered users across Greater Southeast Asia, their value to brands is insurmountable. 

For any marketer navigating this minefield, they need a ‘Swiss army knife’ of solutions.

While there’s value in utilising an RMN’s rich data – nothing is stopping a brand from creating its own goldmine. Even before engaging with an RMN, brands should be collecting and collating their own customer data. This can be as simple as starting a loyalty program, creating a newsletter or email/SMS promotions, or tracking a user’s purchase journey through a site pixel. These strategies arm a brand with information known only to them about their core customer base – allowing the brand to build audience profiles and understand who their core customer is – without solely relying on an RMN to tell them. 

Better yet, the better breeds of RMN will combine their richly sourced and proprietary customer data with a marketer’s brand in a process known as “data clean-rooming”. These data cleanrooms are safe spaces where a RMN and a brand can share anonymized and aggregated shopper data with the brand within a secure environment. Here, both parties can collaborate and supercharge their data and build better customer insights. For example, by understanding patterns and preferences in this combined data will help brands understand their ‘repeat-shoppers’, ‘vertical-based shoppers’, and ‘lapsed shoppers’ between both data sets. 

Combining data in a cleanroom also helps brands understand the missing links in the customer journey. By securely sharing anonymised transaction data, the marketer can attribute specific marketing touchpoints (such as a purchase of their product through a RMN) to build out more accurate return on ad spend, customer loyalty and lifetime value. Combining data with a RMN removes a layer of fogginess that RMN’s walled gardens can, on their own, provide.

Given the walled garden state of RMNs, marketers should also look directly outside the RMN for retail solutions. Marketers should engage with providers that can provide a multi-retail solution that doesn’t require dozens of direct deals with retailers. Off-site media platforms like Criteo’s Retail Media solution have allowed brands – such as online shopping site Welcia.com in Japan – to gain access to valuable audience segments for effective targeting, as well as transparent reporting and closed-loop measurement through their own partnerships with leading retailers. 

In Australia, Circana’s recent partnership with omnichannel media-buying platform The Trade Desk allows brands to measure the incremental impact of their cross-funnel and cross-channel campaigns across multiple retailers at once. 

In a highly fragmented and ever-growing retail market, marketers should not lose sight of traditional media buying to drive brand equity. Focusing on closed-loop solutions and sales helps to understand the return on ad spend, customer journeys, and lifetime value. But as reporting remains unhomogenized across RMNs, and the ability to advertise on an RMN remains tedious, the art of building brand equity through the open internet and traditional media buying channels – as brands have always done – should not be lost.

As marketers learn to strike a healthy balance between traditional brand building and sales-driven activity backed by retail media – retail media networks are opening fascinating and accountable ways to prove the value of a brand’s media investment. It is still, however, developed in a walled garden environment. 

Brands should be selective of which RMN aligns best with their brand, and explore less-tedious multi-retail solutions, all while not losing focus of the traditional media spends that got brands to where they are.

This thought leadership is written by Sebastian Diaz, Head of Media Innovation at Bench Media

MARKETECH APAC is leading the conversation on the future of e-commerce marketing strategies this 2024 and beyond with the E-Commerce Marketing in Malaysia 2024 conference on July 25, 2024 at Sheraton Petaling Jaya and the E-Commerce Marketing in the Philippines 2024 conference on August 14, 2024 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. Join us and become an integral part of a dynamic community committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and fostering unparalleled growth in the e-commerce domain.

Against the backdrop of the post-pandemic recovery, consumers across the Asia Pacific region have been adapting to many challenges: inflation, a cost-of-living crisis, and supply-chain-related instability of product availability, to name a few.

The pandemic has disrupted traditional in-store shopping patterns for three long years, but a recent return to a more ‘normal’ shopping environment has put into focus how much consumers driven online over that time would return to stores.

Amid the current saturated e-commerce landscape, as well as the current climate of economic uncertainty, there is therefore an even greater need for retailers to know how to better engage consumers to gain market share, particularly as consumers recalibrate their spending.

KPMG and GS1’s latest research of 7,000 consumers across 14 markets in the region reflects multiple patterns and expectations among consumer groups, but one over-riding conclusion is clear: The era of seamless commerce has arrived and while both online and offline channels remain popular throughout the region, traditional retail business models are unlikely to meet the expectations of many consumers today. Retailers and brands will have to adapt or face potential consequences of not moving with the market.

From omnichannel to seamless retail

We’re witnessing a third wave of digital disruption in the ever-evolving retail landscape. Previously, multichannel approaches—such as online and brick-and-mortar stores—operated independently within the same retail umbrella. However, the omnichannel era, fuelled by data analytics and AI, has prompted retailers to build bridges across these silos, encouraging collaboration.

Now, with seamless commerce, we’re entering a new evolutionary phase. The seamless commerce approach recognises that consumer interactions span multiple channels, blurring the lines between online and offline. To deliver a truly seamless experience, retailers must adopt an end-to-end perspective, making decisions through a fundamentally different lens. If they don’t deliver a truly seamless experience and don’t adapt their businesses to meet the expectations of the next generation of consumers, they will struggle to survive.

Innovative retailers are striving towards seamless commerce – which recognises a brand’s customer journey across multiple platforms and services, encompassing social media, delivery innovations, apps, websites, automated messaging, and other digital interactions, all seamlessly integrated within traditional physical stores.

The concept of seamless retail was fuelled by the pandemic, where consumers across all generations were driven to shop online, unable to visit physical stores due to movement restrictions. Not only did they head online to purchase food, groceries, and other essential goods, but the migration from working in offices to working from home saw demand in categories such as apparel and home furnishing.

With this shift, seamless commerce – once a differentiator – is now a baseline expectation from consumers; retailers and brands will have to adapt or face potential consequences of not moving with the market.

It’s never a one-size-fits-all in Asia-Pacific

In recent decades, the Asia-Pacific region has been at the forefront of retail transformation, notably in its early and extensive adoption of online platforms which have played a much larger role compared to the rest of the world.

Although COVID has accelerated online shopping across the region, results tell us that consumer habits in terms of how, where, and when they shop remain highly varied. On average, 45% of respondents preferred the ‘omnichannel’ approach, while in a boost for physical-first retailers, relatively few respondents said they could live with only shopping online.

In fact, the e-commerce landscape in the region is marked by a lack of a dominant platform – although various solutions and marketplaces are prevalent in individual markets. There is intense competition among platforms to capture the consumer’s dollar, and these figures identify a wide variety of products and fast, reliable delivery as two of the top three priorities for consumers when choosing a platform.

In terms of desired improvements, competitive pricing ranked as the foremost expectation in Asia-Pacific, cited by 38% of respondents, while promotions and discounts ranked third at 25%, highlighting the need for retailers to implement price strategies that ensure they remain competitive in the market.

Despite these aggregated results, the study reveals that although online is now more important than ever as a retail shopping channel, others such as livestreaming and social shopping are growing at differing rates in many locations. Marketplaces, once at the vanguard of retail transformation, are now coming under attack from new players, including department stores and other multi-brand retailers developing sophisticated, personalised platforms to recover market share they may have lost online.

More notably, a one-size-fits-all retail strategy – if ever it made sense – is becoming less and less meaningful.

How AI is shaping customer experiences and driving sales

With consumer preferences in Asia-Pacific being ever-varied, retailers are embracing AI at an unprecedented speed, resulting in improved customer experiences and increased sales.

In fact, our interviews with senior executives suggest that the adoption of AI by retail enterprises is faster than any previous technology – both at customer-facing points and behind the scenes. Analysis from Stocklytics predicts the generative AI market will hit US$1 trillion in value by 2031, representing a cumulative annual growth rate of 48.05%.

Front-of-house, AI is being used to refine customer experiences in automated chat platforms by developing a better understanding of consumer experiences and behaviour to provide more accurate responses and information.

Responses to customer enquiries can be based on relevant help centre content – directly provided within the conversation, rather than just sharing relevant FAQ responses as is typically done.

Back-of-house, AI has become an indispensable tool in functions such as demand forecasting, supply chain management, and developing marketing content. We have seen how ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, with a user base of more than 180 million people in November 2023.

There is a huge opportunity for AI to help companies understand purchasing trends – sudden spikes or drops in volume, for example – to maintain optimum inventory levels. It can contribute to significant efficiencies in sourcing, shipping, and inventory optimisation by predicting product demand, thereby mitigating issues like out-of-stock inventory or overordering. Currently, such decision-making processes may be delayed or predominantly manual, but the leverage and scalability that AI brings can greatly amplify the output traditionally managed solely by human personnel.

Incorporating seamless commerce strategies for sustainable business growth

Across Asia-Pacific, retailers who limit themselves to one channel face significant risks. Online-only retailers may lack the personal touch and might encounter difficulties in establishing reliable delivery systems, while traditional brick-and-mortar stores are not only missing out on reaching a broader audience but also on leveraging their physical presence for innovative solutions like ‘click and collect’ services or using their locations as local distribution hubs.

To meaningfully address these dynamics, focusing on a frictionless customer experience as the ultimate benchmark for measuring success is crucial. Insight-driven retailers need to utilise data and analytics to predict, strategise, and tailor their product offerings and service delivery, backed by a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs.
Technologies such as AI and Gen AI are increasingly helping retailers to yield actionable insights and interventions that improve customer experiences – from enhanced demand forecasting and customer service to optimising product availability and fine-tuning pricing and promotions.

Indeed, a seamless online-offline customer experience has now become a baseline expectation. Only by excelling in this domain can retailers expect to lead the market.

This thought leadership is written by Anson Bailey, Head of Consumer & Retail, for KPMG in Asia Pacific

MARKETECH APAC is leading the conversation on the future of e-commerce marketing strategies this 2024 and beyond with the E-Commerce Marketing in Malaysia 2024 conference on July 25, 2024 at Sheraton Petaling Jaya and the E-Commerce Marketing in the Philippines 2024 conference on August 14, 2024 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. Join us and become an integral part of a dynamic community committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and fostering unparalleled growth in the e-commerce domain.

In Asia-Pacific retail, everything is a storefront and the door sign is never turned ‘closed’. This is the reality of commerce and marketing today whereby consumers can shop for over 24 hours without leaving their homes. However, this is not to say the brick-and-mortar experience is dead; far from it in fact, but is ripe for significant transformation. 

Despite the mass explosion of digital and social media commerce, APAC consumers still enjoy the physical shopping experience. Indeed, the majority of consumers prefer to mix both online and offline shopping. Indeed, many consumers no longer even see them as separate pillars. Brick-and-mortar, e-commerce and social commerce are, in fact, just commerce. The question is, however, how do brands and marketers merge them to provide a seamless omnichannel experience to consumers?

Over the past decade, e-commerce and social commerce have exploded, with many traditional stores pivoting rapidly to meet online demand. However, the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare humans’ fundamental need for sensory experiences, especially touch. Indeed, according to a report from IBM, touch and product interaction influence the purchase decisions of over half of consumers. As a result, retailers are now increasingly re-embracing the physical shopping experience – albeit with a digital twist.

Notably, RPG Commerce Group, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) startup home to drinkware and cookware brands Montigo and Cosmic Cookware, began purely online business at the height of the pandemic lockdowns but has since ventured into physical retail. Today, it has physical stores in Malaysia and Singapore that feature interactive displays, demonstrations, personalised customer service and customised products such as engravings and hand-drawn limited editions by Malaysian artist Fawwaz Sukri.

Bistro Bytes, meanwhile, has perfected the omnichannel experience by allowing customers to mix and match orders from either in-person at various kiosks in the mall or through a single mobile application – KLIK by Keppel. 

Any retail vertical can benefit from these kinds of hybrid experiences. The trick is to find the right model that fits both the needs and interests of your target demographic and meets them at their convenience. 

The rise of ‘retailtainment’

Traditionally, storefronts have aimed to entice visitors through lavish, eye-catching window displays. But anyone who has gone and bought a bag of cookies after passing a Famous Amos store knows that humans are a highly multisensory species. Gone are the days when visual merchandising was enough to stimulate shoppers. Now, according to recent research, almost two-thirds of consumers want brands to immerse them in experiences that hit all senses.

 However, for many consumers, the physical shopping experience largely falls flat. As many as 70% of shoppers admit that they can’t recall the last time a brand excited them. That is not to say consumers no longer want to shop physically — they just want more from these spaces.

Marketers should not be surprised by these sentiments. Nobel Prize-winning economist and philosopher Daniel Kahneman famously researched that 95% of human decisions are made emotionally. A brand cannot expect to have an emotional impact on a customer without appealing to their senses.

There are multiple ways to achieve this, whether through music, decoration or signature scent. Brands like Nike notably took this to another level with the creation of its Air Max Listening Room, an immersive listening experience designed to capture the music that inspired the product.

Temporary pop-up shops are a hugely powerful tool for digital-only brands or for retailers looking to experiment with new concepts or create a buzz. Pop-up shops and augmented reality experiences can be used to deliver product information, reviews and virtual try-ons.

Marketers can achieve this by creating AR window displays in busy areas where passersby can use their smartphones to interact with products displayed, get detailed information and make purchases without entering the store. To drive conversions, marketers can pair these with an RFID tag for customers to scan to add products to their online cart and buy within a matter of clicks.

Experimenting with this type of experience can have significant brand benefits. Around 80% of retailers that set up a popup said it was a success and nearly 60% intend to do it again.

The AI revolution

Generative AI exploded into our lives less than two years ago and today it remains a top talking point for marketing leaders. Yet, most are still figuring out exactly how to use it. Marketers, technology and business leaders are still to create tangible business cases for building effective GenAI models. Moreover, many are still grappling with its safety implications. 

Nevertheless, 67% of marketers feel positive about the possibilities of GenAI and more than half of marketers are looking to invest heavily in developing A and machine learning capabilities in their business verticals.

Although still in its infancy, retail marketers can still begin exploring genAI and machine learning technology for product discovery and personalisation for consumers based on user history and first-party data. 

Marketers can begin exploring using AI-driven content creation tools to automate product descriptions and marketing copy, but at this stage, will still require a significant degree of human oversight.

Other uses include introducing AI-powered visual search functionality that allows customers to upload images and find similar products on your platform. These can sit alongside voice-activated ads for smart speakers where users can ask questions, hear detailed product descriptions and make purchases through simple voice commands.

Last, but by no means least, marketers can combine AI with AR to provide an immersive shopping experience such as using AR to try on clothes and AI to suggest other recommendations.

Culturally purposeful

Due to the proliferation of information available today, people are hyper-aware of the world around them. As such, brands and companies are held to higher standards and consumers want brands to be purposeful within their cultural context. Globally, 80% of consumers say they make an effort to buy from companies that support causes important to them. However, consumers are also discerning whether a brand is showing genuine support or is simply capitalising on a cause.

Brands are now walking a tightrope of being called out for staying silent on issues and for speaking out and appearing disingenuous. Learning how to navigate this tightrope is still a work in progress.

However, these are some tactics that can help brands take a genuine stand on social causes that matter to them. One is to create dedicated sections for products that support social causes, such as Australian retailer The Iconic’s ‘Consider’ clothing section. Marketers can track these sections with real-time impact tracking to show customers the direct results of their purchases.

Brands can also create transparency reports on sustainability efforts and social impact directly on e-commerce platforms. They can also partner with artists and community leaders to create exclusive product lines that reflect cultural heritage, offering unique stories behind each product.

Staying ahead of the competition is challenging for retailers in 2024 as new retail providers emerge regularly and attempt to undercut the market. Marketers indeed may find themselves in a heated battle between rivals, e-commerce players and even social media influencers. 

However, it is evident that consumers no longer want to simply scroll and click when they shop. The demand for physical experiences is real and marketers are now in a position to use technology to take these to the next level.

This thought leadership is written by Keith Ho, Strategy Lead at NP Digital Malaysia

MARKETECH APAC is leading the conversation on the future of e-commerce marketing strategies this 2024 and beyond with the E-Commerce Marketing in Malaysia 2024 conference on July 25, 2024 at Sheraton Petaling Jaya and the E-Commerce Marketing in the Philippines 2024 conference on August 14, 2024 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. Join us and become an integral part of a dynamic community committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and fostering unparalleled growth in the e-commerce domain.

Today’s digital commerce landscape is evolving rapidly, presenting a challenging, complex and competitive landscape for business leaders to navigate. A combination of a deep understanding of market dynamics, upcoming trends, and strategic partnerships is key for businesses to truly thrive. By leveraging advanced technology, data-driven strategies, and comprehensive market intelligence solutions, businesses can equip themselves with the tools adequate for success.

The essential elements required to win in today’s complex digital commerce landscape 

Winning today’s digital commerce landscape depends on several essential elements. First, data-driven decision-making. The ability to consolidate and analyse data provides a significant edge to businesses. By leveraging market intelligence to understand marketplace and category movements, identify competitor best practices and boost overall operational efficiency. With this data-driven approach, business leaders can make more informed decisions that will optimise online store presence and enhance product visibility.

Next, operational excellence. Operational excellence includes ensuring product availability, enhancing visibility, and optimising conversion rates. Businesses need to maintain seamless fulfilment processes, dominate search results for high-volume keywords and ensure product pages are optimised for conversion. Investing in tools that can monitor stock levels, analyse Share of Search, and track content compliance, pricing, promotions and customer reviews are important. Many businesses have benefited from leveraging a digital shelf solution which automates the tracking of these essential metrics and provides alerts for timely actions when key changes are detected.

Additionally, a seamless omni-channel strategy is key to providing a unified customer experience across multiple touchpoints. Businesses need to identify ways to integrate their online and offline channels, enabling consumers to move seamlessly and effortlessly between them. Intelligence that connects data from these touchpoints can significantly enhance customer engagement and marketing strategies, enabling businesses to meet customers’ needs wherever they are in their journey.

Last but not least, understanding and adapting strategies to regional and local market nuances in the digital commerce market. Every market has its distinctive marketplace characteristics, category preferences and cultural nuances. Adjusting these approaches to fit these local elements while leveraging insights from more mature markets can help provide businesses with the competitive advantage needed to thrive.

The future of digital commerce data analytics

Digital commerce data analytics empowers all of the topics mentioned above while itself is being shaped by several emerging trends and technological advancements. One significant development is the shift towards actionable insights derived from comprehensive data analysis. Future digital commerce strategies will increasingly rely on analytics that not only identify trends but also provide clear, actionable recommendations. This approach ensures that businesses can swiftly and effectively respond to market changes.

AI-powered analysis is another critical trend shaping the future of digital commerce. The integration of AI and machine learning offers sophisticated tools for sentiment analysis, customer behaviour prediction, and personalised marketing. Large Language Models (LLMs) are transforming how businesses understand and engage with customers, uncovering hidden patterns and opportunities within vast datasets. This technology allows businesses to deliver more personalised and relevant experiences.

Enhanced integration and automation will also play a significant role in the future of digital commerce. The focus will be on integrating data points collected from the front end with those available in the back end to provide a holistic view of the business. Automation will streamline operations, from inventory management to customer service, enabling businesses to respond more swiftly and accurately to market demands. This level of integration and automation will help businesses maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving market.

Furthermore, understanding and adapting to regional differences will continue to be crucial. As digital commerce expands globally, successful businesses will need to tailor their strategies to local market conditions and consumer behaviours. For instance, the Asia Pacific region, characterised by diverse markets with varying infrastructure and consumer behaviour, requires a nuanced approach. Leveraging insights from more mature markets like China can inform strategies in emerging markets, ensuring that businesses remain competitive and relevant.

The solution? Invest in the right strategic partnerships

Selecting the right analytics partner is essential for digital commerce success. A solid combination of expertise and experience are crucial. Businesses need to look for partners with a proven track record in digital commerce success, extensive experience across multiple marketplaces and categories and a comprehensive understanding of market dynamics. Collaborating with seasoned experts ensures a business’ digital commerce strategies are grounded in a solid understanding of the industry and its distinct challenges.

Next, businesses should ensure their partners are equipped with the advanced technology capabilities needed to support the business requirements. This entails robust data analytics tools, AI-driven insights, and seamless integration capabilities. Partners should be able to provide actionable intelligence and help businesses leverage it effectively to optimise operations and strategies. Advanced technological support ensures that businesses can adapt to the fast-changing digital commerce landscape with agility.

Local and regional expertise is another crucial consideration. Factoring the unique landscape, especially in Southeast Asia, it is essential to collaborate with partners who have a strong local presence and understanding of the regional nuances. This ensures that strategies are both effective and customised to the local market conditions and consumer preferences.A partner with deep regional insights can help businesses navigate the complexities of different markets and capitalise on local opportunities.

Finally, a commitment to innovation is essential. The digital commerce industry is constantly evolving, with new trends and technologies emerging regularly. Businesses should select partners who are committed to staying ahead of the curve and can help them adapt to these changes. The chosen partner should be proactive in incorporating new tools and techniques that can give businesses a competitive edge. A partner that prioritises innovation will ensure that the business strategies remain cutting-edge and effective in the long term.

What’s next for digital commerce leaders?

In a nutshell, today’s business leaders need a combination of the right knowledge and tools to thrive in the fast-paced digital commerce world. The winning recipe requires a data-driven approach, operational efficiency and the seamless integration of omni-channel strategies. Businesses will need to select the right partners with these capabilities – advanced and innovative technology and regional expertise to navigate the digital commerce world’s complexities and excel in a dynamic environment.

This thought leadership is written by Annie Yao, Head of Growth, Market Intelligence at Flywheel

MARKETECH APAC is leading the conversation on the future of e-commerce marketing strategies this 2024 and beyond with the E-Commerce Marketing in Malaysia 2024 conference on July 25, 2024 at Sheraton Petaling Jaya and the E-Commerce Marketing in the Philippines 2024 conference on August 14, 2024 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. Join us and become an integral part of a dynamic community committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and fostering unparalleled growth in the e-commerce domain.

Organisations across Southeast Asia are risking US$144b in revenue because of poor customer service, with consumers across the region increasingly cutting spending after receiving a poor experience.

This finding from Qualtrics XM Institute highlights the significant business value of great customer experience (CX). At a time when brands find themselves under pressure to drive greater business impact in challenging market environments, delivering a superior CX is one of the most impactful, sustainable, and efficient ways to achieve this. And within this context, the role and value of digital channels and e-commerce platforms cannot be overstated.

Consumers are ever more digital

Consumers continue to conduct more brand interactions through digital channels. For example, in the last year 56% of consumers in Singapore opened a bank account on their mobile phone – up from 48% a year previously; in healthcare 42% of people used a telemedicine service in the last 12 months, up from 35%; and 26% of superapp users say they use one every day, up from 22%.

Great digital support also has an outsized impact on consumer loyalty, with consumers more likely to return when they get great digital support compared to in-person. The challenge for brands, however, is consumers are less likely to be satisfied by their digital customer support experience compared to human support.

As brands, consumers, marketing and CX teams increasingly adopt and mature their e-commerce platforms and digital capabilities, organisations that invest in improving the services, support, and experiences delivered through them are well placed to pull ahead of the competition, unlocking greater customer retention, satisfaction, brand awareness, and ultimately revenue.

5 steps to e-commerce success and impact

Forge partnerships with digital stakeholders

For marketing and CX teams looking to drive improvements across e-commerce platforms, a critical step is identifying and getting to know potential partners across the business – such as web and app development teams, digital marketing, UX/UI, data analysts, product managers, and IT. Understanding the internal digital landscape highlights collaboration opportunities, generates organisational alignment and support, helps define roles and responsibilities, and enables faster-decision making to accelerate progress and business impact.

One of the most successful ways we see CX and marketing teams partner with digital teams to improve the performance of e-commerce platforms is when they begin their collaboration with a focused use case, such as high cart abandonment. As part of this collaboration, the teams combine CX insights from surveys, reviews, and support conversations with operational data, such as web analytics, and customer segmentation, to understand the issue, outline recommended next best steps to resolve it, and demonstrate the business impact to garner greater support in broadening the project scope.

Map the customer journey and understand their behaviours

To improve CX across digital channels and e-commerce platforms, brands need to understand consumer behaviours for these types of offerings, and their preferences when using them. For example, research shows the majority of consumers in Singapore prefer to speak with a representative directly when purchasing a TV compared to online or mobile. In contrast, when booking a flight the preference is to self-serve using a digital channel.

Most customer engagements span multiple channels and departments; for e-commerce these often include account management, purchasing a product, resolving an issue, research, and getting a status update. Taking the time to understand the customer journey and behaviours for specific use cases ensures teams prioritise their investments and efforts in areas where they will have the greatest impact. Looking at digital CX in the context of a complete journey helps teams remove siloes that might otherwise hinder progress and impact, cultivate strategic alignment, and uncover unmet needs and opportunities.

Capture customer feedback in the moment

Early in the partnership between CX and marketing teams with digital, it’s important to establish a set of passive listening posts across all digital channels and e-commerce platforms – these should supplement the existing customer feedback programs CX and marketing teams traditionally manage, such as surveys. Common examples of passive listening posts include having a visible and easy-to-use always-on feedback button, or using modern AI-powered experience management technologies to analyse feedback shared by customers across social channels, online reviews, and through calls to the contact centre.

Giving customers the ability to share feedback in the moment helps uncover authentic, targeted, actionable insights and enables teams with real-time, focused insights to drive improvements when and where it matters most.

Use digital analytics to understand online consumer behaviours

Digital analytics help teams capture behavioural data from all site visitors, such as rage-clicking, mouse thrashing, and click-paths. This data is more objective and accurate than traditional feedback data – it reflects what people actually did rather than what they think they might do – and it can be captured continuously and in real time. All these benefits make digital behavioural insights critical for helping develop a dynamic understanding of digital journeys and pain points. 

Take action on feedback when and where it matters

Using AI, CX and marketing teams can benefit from workflows that automatically route feedback to the right stakeholders to take action on. These automated workflows should integrate with the systems and processes stakeholders already use as part of their everyday role, such as Jira, Slack, or Salesforce, to ensure swift adoption. AI will also empower teams to instantly identify and support customers encountering difficulties online, such as using digital analytics data to flag customers that might not be able to find what they’re looking for, or advanced conversational analytics to escalate online chat conversations. 

AI will help teams deeply understand the emotion, intent, and effort behind every engagement, and become more pro-active and predictive to resolve problems before they arise. The keys to optimising the impact of AI-powered workflows is identifying the initial triggers driving action – which can be metrics including CSAT, effort, satisfaction, digital analytics, or even key words – and ensuring ticketing notifications are routed to the correct teams.

AI accelerates and expands e-commerce impact

As organisations and consumers increasingly adopt and embrace AI, there are significant opportunities to drive improvements across every aspect of the customer experience, including digital and e-commerce. 

Right now, organisations are focusing on where AI can have the greatest impact on their business – be it growth, productivity, or operational efficiencies. From these starting points we will see AI programs scale, and there will be a first-mover advantage for those leading the way. Organisations already using AI in their e-commerce and digital offerings – or about to begin – have a head start on the competition, and will be better positioned to deliver great CX in the moment, across every channel, and across every engagement.

This thought leadership is written by Eleanor O’Dwyer-Duggan, CX Solution Strategist, Southeast Asia at Qualtrics

MARKETECH APAC is leading the conversation on the future of e-commerce marketing strategies this 2024 and beyond with the E-Commerce Marketing in Malaysia 2024 conference on July 25, 2024 at Sheraton Petaling Jaya and the E-Commerce Marketing in the Philippines 2024 conference on August 14, 2024 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. Join us and become an integral part of a dynamic community committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and fostering unparalleled growth in the e-commerce domain.

As consumer preferences shift to online shopping and cashless transactions, businesses are adopting advanced payment solutions and sophisticated marketing strategies to stay competitive. Integrating secure, efficient payment systems with targeted, interactive marketing has become more essential for brands to thrive in the digital marketplace.

As part of the E-Commerce Marketing Interview series, MARKETECH APAC sat down with Dheeraj Raina, vice president and head of integrated marketing and communications for Southeast Asia at Mastercard. In this insightful discussion, Raina shares his insights on evolving consumer behaviours, emerging marketing trends, and key developments in the payments industry and e-commerce marketing in Southeast Asia.

Emerging marketing trends for the payments industry at SEA

Southeast Asia is a dynamic and diverse region, with commonalities as well as market nuances. For Raina, this means that marketing and consumer trends might be at different stages of evolution in each market.

Raina believes that one of the most significant trends in Southeast Asia is the rise of social commerce. 

“With consumers spending a significant amount of time on social media platforms, social commerce is not just a new shopping experience but a paradigm shift in how consumers interact with brands. This trend reflects a broader change in consumer behaviour, where social media becomes a primary channel for product discovery, brand engagement, and purchasing decisions,” he explained. 

At the same time, he noted how voice commerce is also gaining traction, driven by the increasing use of audio and voice technologies. 

“Although the penetration of these technologies varies across markets, early signs, particularly in Thailand, indicate a growing acceptance and usage of audio in commerce,” Raina added. 

Navigating fragmented markets and consumer trust issues

The SEA is a dynamic and burgeoning region. However, it also presents the e-commerce payments sector with a myriad of challenges to confront, including its evolving regulatory frameworks, diverse consumer behaviours, escalating cybersecurity threats, and the imperative to foster financial inclusion.

According to Raina, SEA is a highly fragmented region, with countries having different regulations for e-commerce and digital payments. 

“Different markets also have varying levels of trust in the security of digital payments. This can make it challenging for businesses to operate and expand in the region, as they need to adapt to all these market differences,” he further explained.

Raina also pointed out that a significant portion of the SEA population remains unbanked or underbanked. Therefore, providing e-commerce payment solutions that cater to this demographic can be challenging.

Lastly, he believes that as the usage and adoption of digital payments increase, so does the risk of cyber threats. And while fighting cybersecurity threats can be costly, he strongly advises businesses to invest in robust security measures to protect customer data and prevent fraud.

Opportunities for the e-commerce payments sector 

While marketers in SEA face certain challenges, they also have opportunities to thrive thanks to technological advancements. 

As Raina mentioned before, the rise of social commerce resulted in social media becoming the main channel for new product discovery. However, Raina stated that this is not the only opportunity in the payments industry this year. 

“We operate in a very dynamic industry and marketing landscape where agility and innovation will always be the keys. SEA is experiencing a rapid increase in internet and smartphone penetration, driving the growth of the digital economy. This means that we are in a region where we could go in with a truly digital-first approach to our marketing,” he said. 

Among the promising opportunities Raina identified to be present this year in the e-commerce payments sector is the growing internet penetration and smartphone usage in SEA, which provides an excellent platform for mobile-based e-commerce payments solutions, with mobile wallets and payment apps able to reach a large number of customers.

Many SEA governments are also pushing for digitalisation and encouraging digital payments; together, Raina believes these initiatives can provide a boost to businesses in the e-commerce payments sector.

Furthermore, the growing middle class in SEA countries is another opportunity that should be taken note of. According to him, companies in the e-commerce and payments sectors should know how to capture this segment of the population that is more likely to shop online and use digital payment methods. 

Raina further emphasises that the emergence of AI, and particularly generative AI, has the potential to significantly transform marketing. 

“AI-powered chatbots can analyse data in a privacy-safe environment and help businesses identify customer trends and preferences. This enables businesses in e-commerce to provide more impactful personalised recommendations and targeted ads,” he stated. 

The role of AI in e-commerce payments

For Raina, emerging technologies, including AI, are expected to significantly influence the trajectory of e-commerce payments in several ways. To stay competitive, he advises businesses to invest in AI technology and integrate it into their e-commerce platforms.

“AI offers enhanced security. It can detect fraudulent transactions, reduce the risk of data breaches, and enhance the security of e-commerce payments by analysing spending patterns and user behaviour. This also helps reduce false declines, thereby improving the overall customer experience,” Raina explained. 

He goes on to discuss how AI can create more personalised experiences powered by real-time data processing.

“E-commerce businesses can harness AI to not only process and analyse large volumes of data, such as customer behaviour and purchase history, in real-time but also predict customer preferences and market trends. This enables them to make informed and strategic decisions about pricing, discounts, and sales, as well as provide more personalised and efficient shopping experiences, which will boost customer satisfaction and loyalty,” Raina stated. 

AI can also automate various payment processes, which Raina believes is crucial for streamlining operations and enhancing productivity.

“AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide 24/7 customer service, handling inquiries and issues related to payments, thereby enabling a seamless shopping and payment experience for consumers. Moreover, AI can help reduce errors in the payment process by automating data entry and other manual processes,” he added. 

Additionally, businesses can also leverage AI to enhance their e-commerce payment systems and stay at the forefront of the industry’s evolution. 

With the field of AI evolving rapidly, Raina suggests that businesses start investing in AI technology and integrating it into their e-commerce platforms. Employees must also be trained on how to use AI tools and technologies responsibly to improve efficiency and the customer experience.

While implementing AI, he also encourages e-commerce businesses to focus on improving the customer experience. 

Expounding more, Raina said, “By utilising AI-powered tools such as chatbots and biometric payments, e-commerce businesses can develop payment solutions that provide a more personalised, efficient, and seamless shopping experience for their customers. This helps drive repeat business, customer loyalty, and sales.”

Lastly, amid rising data privacy concerns, he believes implementing strong data security measures and adhering to data protection regulations are essential to gaining customer trust as AI technologies rapidly evolve. 

Raina explained, “A recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services with Mastercard found that 80% of Asia-based consumers saw information security and privacy as important. This suggests that businesses need to carefully consider data governance and management when looking to use data to improve the customer experience with AI-powered tools.” 

He added, “When AI is ethical, transparent, reliable, and beneficial, people trust it. At Mastercard, we know the only AI is responsible AI. Businesses that prioritise the protection of personal information will enhance their reputation as reliable guardians of customer data. As AI continues to be a key ingredient of the technology that we are using across marketing platforms, our own awareness and responsibility towards the use of AI will be paramount.”

Navigating the next chapter in payments and e-commerce marketing 

As Raina noted, there is a rising prominence of AI-powered marketing. AI empowers payment providers to gain a deeper understanding of customer engagement, enabling more personalised interactions that result in enhanced customer experience and long-term loyalty. Furthermore, AI streamlines consumer behaviour analysis and automates interactions between marketing and other departments to allow us marketers to make better decisions in real-time. 

He recommends that companies in the payment industry must learn how to leverage AI’s capabilities to their advantage. 

“Mastercard is leveraging AI to analyse the landscape, gauge consumer sentiment, and explore new product opportunities. This not only enhances the efficiency of successful products but also expedites time to market,” Raina stated. 

He added, “It is crucial for payment providers to move beyond ‘set it and forget it’ automation strategies and adopt a more collaborative approach between humans and AI to strengthen connections with consumers.” 

Furthermore, Raina emphasised that the expanding cross-border e-commerce landscape in SEA presents exciting new avenues for companies to market and sell their products and services internationally. This trend opens up a wealth of possibilities for businesses to reach new customers and expand their footprint across the region.

“The payments landscape in Southeast Asia is evolving rapidly, driven by digitalisation, consumer preferences, and regulatory changes. Marketers need to stay agile, understand local nuances, and create compelling narratives to capture this dynamic market,” Raina concluded. 

Philippines – In recent years, the landscape of commerce in the Philippines has undergone a profound transformation, largely driven by the burgeoning influence of e-commerce. As one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, e-commerce has not only reshaped consumer behaviour but also revolutionised the way businesses operate.

With a rapidly expanding digital infrastructure, increasing internet penetration, and a tech-savvy population, the Philippines presents a fertile ground for e-commerce to flourish. However, amidst the opportunities lie unique challenges in navigating the intricacies of this landscape. 

To equip brands and marketers with the latest knowledge and insight on strategies and innovations redefining the landscape of e-commerce, MARKETECH APAC’s E-Commerce Marketing Series is pioneering an in-person conference this August 14 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. Titled “E-Commerce Marketing in the Philippines 2024,” the conference will gather industry leaders, digital experts, and innovative thinkers to explore the trends, opportunities, and challenges shaping the future of e-commerce in the Philippines.

With keynote presentations, panel discussions, fireside chats, and networking sessions, the conference aims to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange between attendees to propel their e-commerce strategies forward and unlock unprecedented growth potential.

Moreover, the conference will showcase a varied roster of marketing and e-commerce experts from the Philippines, who will impart their knowledge and insights on advancing the industry through agile e-commerce strategies and ensuring their resilience for the future. They include: 

  • Nancy Almasco, marketing director at FlowerStore Group
  • Jasper Sadiang Abay, head of campaign marketing at Home Credit Philippines
  • Isabel Falco, chief digital & marketing officer at L’Oréal
  • Emmanuel Cruz, e-commerce head at Mondelēz International Philippines
  • Ariana Henares, head of e-commerce at Nestlé
  • Joseph Albette Buddahim, chief marketing officer at PRIMER Group of Companies 
  • And more to be announced!  

Speaking about the event, Katherine Sy, regional head of content at MARKETECH APAC, said, “We are bringing the E-Commerce Marketing Series to our home turf! Our top-tier speakers and agenda for this conference are hyped to elevate the e-commerce scene in the Philippines. And what better way to do that than to join forces with experts and peers through this platform of networking, knowledge-sharing, and growth.”

E-Commerce Marketing in the Philippines 2024 marks the second instalment of the conference roadshows under MARKETECH APAC’s E-Commerce Marketing Series. The first conference will kick off in Malaysia this July.

To learn how to be a part of this conference, click HERE for further details.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Joven Barceñas at [email protected]. Meanwhile, please contact Jean Cabico at [email protected] for speaking opportunities.