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Marketing Featured APAC

What’s NEXT 2023: Why e-commerce brands must focus on customer lifetime value over customer acquisition

In the past year, growth through acquisition has become more expensive as Cost per acquisition (CPA) increased across most channels, attribution became opaque, and cookies became less reliable. Furthermore, in the past 6 months, the financial outlook has drastically changed, and with an increase in the cost of capital, it has become less prudent for companies with limited runway to spend large sums on acquisition. 

Additionally, as Cost of goods sold is increasing and customers are not ready to absorb additional price increases due to the higher overall inflation, there is additional pressure for lean operations and reduced spending. Acquisition investment as high as 10% of total revenue has now become a challenge to maintain due to lower overall revenue and even smaller margins; hence, the focus of e-commerce operators and investors has shifted from the growth rate to operational efficiency, bringing about a big change in direction from the last few years. 

Focusing on retention and keeping your existing base engaged

Over the last 3 years, e-commerce saw an outpaced growth rate during COVID that is now becoming more stable. The question we are all trying to answer is whether it pulled the growth forward by a few years or actually changed customer behaviour. I would argue, like most things, it’s probably a bit of both, but companies who assumed that the growth rate will be maintained will face a challenge as they may have over-leveraged for growth that is now going to take a few more years to materialise. 

Most companies have to make a hard choice, whether to raise prices to maintain profitability or reduce margins to keep their base growing! I think the third less obvious option is to focus on retention and increase the profit per customer. By focusing on creating a relational e-commerce experience that delivers value to what customers deem as necessity and accepting that customers will cut their overall spending, companies can ensure that they don’t lose their existing customers and can, therefore, increase overall revenue by increasing the Share of Wallet (SOW) of existing customers. 

Brands in e-commerce that look to unlock this path will likely invest in owned channels that would keep their existing base engaged, developing automated programs to lead customers through the lifecycle from onboarding and growth to rescue to advocacy. Meanwhile, many companies use their CRM strategy as the only part of the business to engage existing customers, however, most CRM systems are not able to go beyond the basic e-commerce tools of engagement such as abandon browse and repurchase and reactivation type campaigns, unless paired with a comprehensive source of customer data. 

Leveraging data to boost brands’ customer experience

To create effective engagement, brands in e-commerce must bring together all the sources of data to create a contextual understanding of their customer’s needs and habits. Brands are able to collect zero-party data as customers engage with the site and triangulate their profile info, purchase habits, on-site browsing behaviour as well as the customer segment definitions to create a comprehensive view of their current customers and predict potential behaviours of future customers.

Brands can also use this data to identify which portion of the customer SOW is necessary and will likely continue and, on the other hand, which the customers will decide to curb spending on. This will allow them to optimise inventory, pricing, and promotions decisions for a financial downturn. For instance, one company may use points and special offers to discount categories that customers may be hesitant to spend, and on the other hand, drive orders of the essential categories to maintain profitable operations. 

Additionally, without a doubt, the best way to improve the retention of existing customers is to provide an excellent customer experience. The next few years will set a new standard for what customers expect from e-commerce platforms in terms of customer service, delivery speed and refund/return policies. To protect their market share, said platforms will compete to stay ahead of the customer’s expectations and their competitor’s capabilities. 

Hitting the home run in relational e-commerce experience

Brand recognition will also play a big part as advertising budgets shrink. The best brands will focus on customer experience and brand values rather than splashy advertising. This approach helps them to stay top of mind, bringing existing customers back to the site and focusing the smaller acquisition budget on truly new customers who are highly aligned to the near-future growth strategy of the company, and likely in categories that are less recession-affected. 

Finally, to fully leverage site traffic, e-commerce players must focus on increasing the conversion rate by reducing friction in the buying journey and focusing on increasing the basket size of customers. 

It is worth noting pricing competitiveness is still quite important as we go through a financial downturn but has historically been a smaller contributor to longevity over the brand and customer experience. Many successful brands in e-commerce will use loss leaders to harness demand and drive retention and lifetime value. 

The most successful brands provide exceptional relational e-commerce experience rather than a transactional one by knowing their existing customers better and aligning their strategy to where the customer expectations are going. 

In 2023, brands ought to focus their strategy to balance Customer lifetime value and Cost per acquisition to ensure sustainable growth without the need for constant injection of acquisitions cost. To navigate this complex plan, they must bring together teams from multiple disciplines to allow coordination of data modelling, customer engagement, and customer experience to best engage and grow the SOW of existing customers. 

This article is written by Negar Mokhtarnia, Director of Product at Pet Circle.

The insight is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series under What’s NEXT 2023What’s NEXT 2023 is a multi-platform industry initiative which features marketing and industry leaders in APAC sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share on upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to be part of the series. 

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Platforms Featured APAC

How BNPL providers and partner marketers can seize their growing collective opportunity

Over the past five years, the number of buy now, pay later (BNPL) businesses and options has skyrocketed. The boom began when the world’s largest online retailers integrated these options into their e-commerce experiences, and the concept quickly went mainstream across the retail landscape. More recently, amidst the pandemic and rapid shift to online spending, we saw the first BNPL players turn to the BNPL and partner marketing channel as a new revenue stream. Since then, the channel has become an exceptionally important part of the BNPL industry’s growth strategy. 

That said, the e-commerce and fintech landscape are both undergoing rapid transformations, making this a particularly crucial time for partner marketers and BNPL players in terms of laying the groundwork for a sustainable future together. Let’s take a closer look at this growing opportunity, as well as the areas where both sides need to focus their efforts to ensure responsible growth. 

Why All Eyes Are on BNPL 

The BNPL opportunity, while not a new concept, has been redefined for a digital world and has taken on significant weight in recent years. Retailers have flocked to these providers, with major players like Klarna now serving hundreds of thousands of global retailers, including names like Amazon and Macy’s. 

In terms of the money that flows through these systems, Juniper Research predicts that money spent through the BNPL market will nearly quadruple between 2021 and 2026, to eventually account for more than 24 per cent of global e-commerce transactions (compared to 9 per cent in 2021). At the same time, these services will widen their generational appeal. According to eMarketer, 80 per cent of BNPL customers in 2018 were millennials or Gen Zers 14 and over. That figure dropped to 73 per cent last year, as older generations began to embrace these newer payment options. However, millennials and Gen Z are expected to remain the predominant BNPL customers in the near future. 

While BNPL is seeing global growth, Australia has become the world’s hotbed of BNPL activity. The BNPL boom in Australia has attracted more than 30 players in recent years, the largest being names like Afterpay, Zip and Humm Group. Zip in particular has more than 2 million customers across Australia and New Zealand, and the company credits the BNPL trend as being a major contributor to the wave of Australians who have ditched their credit cards in recent years. The rise of Apple Pay is a consumer trend worth monitoring, as well.

How the BNPL-Affiliate Relationship Can Thrive

To thrive, BNPL and affiliate relationships need to acknowledge the unique challenges and opportunities of each other’s respective businesses and ensure their contributions to the relationships are mutually beneficial. Particularly as consumer watchdog groups increase their scrutiny of BNPL programs and their lending practices, it will behoove both sides to demonstrate responsible practices by structuring these programs for success upfront. 

From the BNPL provider’s perspective, there are three elements to consider when it comes to being successful in the partner and affiliate space: 

  • Audience size and scale
  • Marketing themselves as a media business 
  • Optimising their customer platform with the right advertising opportunities

Afterpay has the biggest audience in the Australian BNPL market. Other BNPL competitors, who may not have the same audience size, were quicker to invest in optimising their customer platform to drive more customers through their shopping and rewards platform. However, Afterpay is further investing and launching an enhanced shopping portal which they are now monetising for their merchants.

Different BNPL providers are targeting different demographics as they are seeing certain shifts ultimately leading to increased audience size, unlocking broader reach across the population that has higher spending power.

No doubt, the BNPL opportunity is big—and getting bigger every day. From the merchant standpoint, capitalising on this shift and giving customers more flexibility in payment options just makes sense. From an affiliate marketing perspective, we can leverage this shift to help drive the right advertising to the right audience using the data produced through buyer spending behaviour.

To continue to leverage the growth in the market the industry needs to continue to monitor the consumer buyer patterns for sustainable growth.

This article is written by Kelly Guerin, APAC director of partnerships at Partnerize.

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Platforms Featured APAC

ShopBack brings back 4-month ShopFest this year with the theme ‘Like a VVIP’

Singapore – ShopBack is returning with ShopFest 2022, the shopping festival it dubs its ‘largest’, having it slated for a 4-month run. September marks the countdown to the year-end holiday season and ShopBack’s festival comprises the biggest sales events – 9.9, 10.10, 11.11, Black Friday-Cyber Monday (BFCM) and 12.12.

ShopFest 2022 is a global initiative across all of ShopBack’s 10 markets and is actually now in its 5th year running. The massive shopping event seeks to achieve the same – continue driving sales for businesses across the island in the year-end shopping season.

As ShopFest launches this year, it will be the first time users will be able to run their shopping experience in the presence of two new ShopBack features launched earlier this year – ShopBack Pay and ShopBack PayLater. In line with ShopBack’s new brand tagline – ‘For The Wins’ – this year’s ShopFest is themed around the concept of ‘Like a VVIP’, which promises ‘to go above and beyond’ to deliver the best deals to ShopBack’s users.

“Our goal is for shoppers to feel a sense of personal victory every time they shop with us. With ShopFest 2022, we are going above and beyond to serve our fellow shoppers – our VIPs – with the best experiences and deals. At the same time, we want to encourage users to explore and experience the benefits of our recently launched ShopBack Pay and PayLater features, for a complete and integrated shopping journey,” says Fern Nannaphat, country manager of ShopBack Singapore.

According to ShopBack, last year’s ShopFest saw a 7x increase in merchants’ e-commerce sales on mega shopping days. This year, ShopBack is expecting to surpass its previous year’s performance with an average of 11x increase in sales generated for merchant partners during each of the 5 mega sale days.

Nannaphat also shares, “Looking back at ShopFest last year, the top performing shopping categories other than general marketplaces were in beauty, fashion (especially athleisure & cross border merchants) and health supplements such as vitamins and protein. However, we believe this year’s rendition will be vastly different. With the prevalence of ‘revenge travel’, the trend is likely to change with travel expenditure expected to top the charts, followed by the fashion category through athleisure brands like lululemon, Nike and Uniqlo as some of the fastest growing e-commerce brands since the start of the year.”

To kick-start the festival, this coming 9.9 mega sale day, ShopBack users may shop to get 10 extra chances to win S$100,000 worth of Tesla shares. The top spending VVIPs will also win up to S$50,000 worth of exclusive experiences at each mega sales day. This includes experiences such as a pair of F1 Singapore Grand Prix Padang grandstand Tickets worth S$1,200, a luxury yacht experience for eight worth S$1,200, and a pair of 2-Day VVIP pass to ZoukOut worth S$1,100. 

In addition, top five VVIPs will be selected to participate in ShopBack’s first-ever game show, The VVIP Circle, where they will stand a chance to win up to S$2,000 in cash. The show will be aired on the ShopBack app one day before each mega event on – 9 October, 10 November, 24 November, and 11 December, from 8 pm to 9 pm. 

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Technology Featured APAC

Why digital accessibility and a more inclusive web matter to APAC brands

The online world is here to stay and our time online will continue to grow. From shopping for necessities to staying connected with loved ones, how we shop, communicate, learn and make decisions has been irreversibly changed by the internet. Bain & Co found that since the pandemic began, Southeast Asia has added 60 million new digital consumers, of which 20 million joined in the first half of 2021. 

With the increase in digital consumption, we are seeing an increase in digital accessibility issues. In the Asia Pacific, over 650 million people live with a disability and this number is likely to increase as a result of the region’s ageing population. This means that one in six people in the region has some type of impairment that affects their ability to consume digital content. 

Addressing the gap 

It is expected that an increasing number of people with disabilities will require more accessible environments and services to remain mobile and engaged in society. 

However, digital inclusion remains under-addressed. Much of the internet remains inaccessible, despite existing policies to make websites more accessible. A report by Contentsquare shares some troubling numbers – 70% of digital content is not accessible, two-thirds of e-commerce sites are not accessible, and 70% of public services are not accessible.

Without ensuring digital accessibility for all, we are limiting a large group of people from accessing even the most basic services and information on the internet. There is a need to enhance the spotlight on digital accessibility, and brands catering to the audience of this highly diverse region must take action now to offer inclusive online experiences to secure a digital future for all. 

Digital accessibility is good for business

The argument for digital accessibility extends way beyond the moral obligation of building websites for all; it has huge financial and commercial implications too. Accessibility is not only good for ensuring equal access to everyone on an ethical level, but it’s also good for business. 

As the numbers tell us, the potential audience is huge and having the website inaccessible to this group is a missed opportunity. 

Ben Pintos-Oliver, general manager of digital systems at Telstra, spoke about this at a recent industry event for CX by Contentsquare. 

Ben shared that within Telstra, Australia’s largest mobile network, 50% of their base is over 55 years old.

“We know there’s a large portion of that population (around 50%) that [may have] a disability. We also know that we have an ageing population in Australia and that a 20% increase in over 65s will happen by 2030,” Ben said. 

Accessibility is not just important for disabled people – it benefits a wider audience, from people using smartphones to Asia’s ageing population to those situated in areas with low Internet connectivity. Human-centred and accessible design naturally comes with fewer points of friction and frustration.

A brand that demonstrates a commitment to accessibility for all can enjoy a strengthened brand presence and an increase in positive sentiment and word-of-mouth recommendations. And with those come significant improvements in customer experience and loyalty.

Make digital inclusion a key organisation-wide priority

Adoption of accessibility across the organisation is critical to its success, starting from leadership support. Accessibility as a mandate can’t be limited to developers and UX teams.

According to Telstra’s Ben, accessibility uptake is a joint effort and needs to cut across different functions across the organisation to be truly successful.

“From HR to corporate relations, to your digital team; more voices create more noise so make sure you get people from across the company on board as soon as you can. Seeking out people company-wide who support your initiative will help ensure a smoother buy-in from C-level too,” shared Ben.

The accessibility agenda needs to be woven into as many elements of the business as possible. For Ben, it is important for the team to align accessibility with ethical, brand and product agendas that are already on people’s roadmaps. 

“There needs to be a collective and conscious effort to support promoting accessibility for everyone, from your company values to your commitment to doing business responsibly,” said Ben.

Building a more inclusive web together: digital a11y by design

Building a more inclusive web to make a real difference in the lives of billions is a mammoth undertaking, and the more brands who commit to accessibility, the better. 

Brands need to ensure accessibility is embedded into their digital experience from the start, and not bolted on as an afterthought. Building a great website first and then reversing to make it accessible afterwards is a sure-fire recipe for a poor experience for your users. 

Brands like Telstra who prioritise accessibility from the very start will begin to cultivate an organisation-wide accessible-first mindset and contribute towards a better, kinder, and more inclusive digital environment.

This article is written by Albert Nel, senior vice president for Asia Pacific & Japan at Contentsquare.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

J&T Express established strategic partnership with foodpanda in Singapore

Singapore Express delivery company J&T Express has been appointed as the delivery partner-of-choice for foodpanda shops, foodpanda’s online marketplace. With its expertise and extensive network, J&T Express will be supporting foodpanda shops’ retailers to provide next-day door-to-door delivery.

In this partnership, over 20 merchants such as Unilever, Philips, ASUS, MAKE UP STORE and TC Acoustics will now have the option to offer next-day delivery fulfilled by J&T Express, with plans to expand this offering to more merchant partners in the coming months.

As part of the launch, foodpanda is offering free deliveries on all J&T Express next-day delivery orders from now till 31 August 2022, terms and conditions apply.

foodpanda shops was first launched in 2019 to provide customers with the convenience of placing orders from a wide variety of product categories including household items, beauty products, electronics and more, and have them delivered on-demand. With over 4,000 merchant partners, customers can now shop from notable brands such as Xiaomi, Guardian, LUSH, and more from the comfort of their own homes.

J&T Express also brings to this strategic collaboration its extensive experience in supporting online marketplaces and e-commerce platforms to provide efficient and seamless logistics solutions. As part of this collaboration, J&T Express has developed an API integration with foodpanda to enable a one-stop ecommerce experience for merchants.

Martin Tan, head of operations at J&T Express, Singapore, said, “We are excited to be onboard with foodpanda through foodpanda shops to drive the one-stop e-commerce experience for both sellers and consumers. This new milestone is in line with our ambition and strategy to expand our customer base by creating tailored e-commerce solutions for our partners, which is also a testament to our growing potential and momentum both in Singapore and globally.”

foodpanda aims to expand its delivery offerings via its shops feature to bring new benefits for both consumers and brands. Consumers can now enjoy a wider variety of products and brands with a frictionless shopping experience, while merchants have access to a new channel to reach new, digital customers, and opportunities to generate new revenues through alternative business models like next-day delivery.

Rizan Rahiman, head of marketplace – Shops, at foodpanda Singapore, commented, “Our partnership with J&T Express allows us to provide even more options for customers to place orders and have them delivered at their preferred timings. With this partnership, participating merchant partners can now offer islandwide delivery in a more efficient manner, resulting in wallet-friendlier delivery fees for our customers. These enhancements will ensure that we are well-placed in being the preferred option for on-demand purchases.”

As part of this partnership and its ongoing growth, J&T Express continues to invest in its operations globally and in the region to ensure it can deliver the highest quality express service. The company recently announced its global expansion to include Brazil. In Singapore, it has equipped its sorting hub with upgraded automation solutions and expanded its strategic warehouse network in both east and west of Singapore, which is supported by a nationwide network of Pick Lockers and J&T Points, the dedicated service points.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

CALECIM Cosmeceuticals appoints ex-Zalora Cooper McGuire as COO

Singapore – Asian stem cell skincare specialist, CALECIM® Cosmeceuticals (CALECIM®), a subsidiary of Singapore-based biotech company CellResearch Corporation, has named former Zalora and Skin Inc executive Cooper McGuire as its new chief operating officer (COO). In this role, Cooper will spearhead the company’s shift from being primarily doctor-focused to adopting a direct-to-consumer approach, tapping into the growing global cosmeceuticals market.

Cooper will also lead the company’s online expansion by growing its e-commerce channels, focusing primarily on key growth markets: US, Europe and China. He will also oversee the streamlining and optimising of CALECIM®’s logistics and fulfilment processes. He will report to Gavin Tan, chief executive officer of CALECIM®

On his appointment, Cooper said, “CALECIM® has all the makings of a market leader in the skincare space: an early loyal customer base, a committed and intelligent team, and most importantly real, clinically validated results in an industry that often relies on marketing more than science. I’m excited to bring my experience scaling early-stage consumer businesses through digital transformation to CALECIM® to see how far we can grow together.”

Cooper previously served as the COO and CFO of Skin Inc, a custom skincare brand, where he led the company’s digital transformation and e-commerce expansion. Prior to Skin Inc, Cooper took the helm at Ensogo Group as COO, a publicly-listed online marketplace with operations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia where he was responsible for leading the company’s restructuring efforts. Before Ensogo, as co-founder and CFO, Cooper built ZALORA Group into Asia Pacific’s leading group of online fashion destinations with responsibility in core infrastructure including corporate finance, finance and accounting, business intelligence, legal and human resources. 

Chief Executive Officer of CALECIM®, Gavin Tan, commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Cooper on our quest to turn CALECIM® into the market leader in anti-aging stem cell cosmeceuticals. Cooper’s experience perfectly matches our needs at the right time — he has an excellent track record in the digital transformation and aggressive scaling of consumer brands and we are looking forward to his guidance as we continue this exciting journey.”

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Platforms Featured ANZ

HypeAuditor announces integration with Shopify to automate influencer marketing campaigns for online retailers

Sydney, Australia — HypeAuditor, an AI analytics platform for transparent and fraud-free influencer marketing, has announced its integration with Shopify, with the aim to provide an ‘all-in-one analysis’ of sales-focused influencer marketing campaigns for online retailers. 

HypeAuditor’s creative solutions will enable e-commerce brands and agencies to streamline the entire influencer marketing workflow, from discovering and contacting relevant creators, to effectively managing the campaigns, and then creating analytical results reports. 

By providing online retailers with a range of ‘precise search filters’ that deliver highly relevant results, HypeAuditor ensures that brands and agencies are identifying the best influencers for their campaigns, and allows for contact directly through the platform to ensure a smooth campaign launch. 

The integration claims to be completely automated, assigning corresponding click rates, sales, and ROI to specific influencers and campaigns in order to calculate sales performance, saving e-commerce brands valuable time and money by eliminating the manual aspect of running an influencer marketing campaign. In this integration, Shopify merchants will now be able to ‘accurately and efficiently’ measure the success of a campaign and monitor top-performers to enhance marketing strategies and optimise budgets.

Alex Frolov, CEO at HypeAuditor, said, “For marketing managers, analysing sales data from the Shopify platform and cross referencing it with campaign data from an influencer marketing platform can be extremely time consuming and expensive. By integrating HypeAuditor with Shopify, e-commerce brands will no longer be held back by this archaic exercise. A campaign can now be set up in less than five minutes, and the rest of the process is automated, enabling a clear, strategic analysis of an influencer campaign.”

The Director of Marketing (APAC) at Shopify, Robin Marchant, commented, “As customer acquisition costs skyrocket, brands are looking to collaborate with creators to deepen relationships and build awareness, trust and loyalty among their audience. HypeAuditor’s integration helps Shopify merchants find authentic creator opportunities and automate workflow and measurement to optimise campaign spend and strategy, and strengthen business outcomes.” 

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

SEA loyalty platform Society Pass acquires Dream Space, Handycart

Hanoi, Vietnam — Southeast Asian data-driven loyalty platform Society Pass Incorporated, also known as SoPa, announced its buyout of Dream Space Trading Company, the operator of Handycart, an online grocery delivery service based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Dream Space will be integrated into SoPa’s F&B delivery vertical with SoPa’s existing merchant software platform HOTTAB.

In addition to the buyout, Handycart Founder and CEO Seo Jun Ho have been named head of the new business unit, managing both Handycart and #HOTTAB in Vietnam.

Handycart, founded recently in 2019, is an online grocery delivery app with its own fleet of delivery vehicles that focuses on the Korean restaurant market and F&B sector in Hanoi. Vietnam has embraced the ‘Korean Wave’; a recent survey by market research firm Q&Me found that 58 per cent of Vietnamese favour Korean cuisine.

Ngo Thi Cham, country general manager of SoPa Vietnam, commented on the strategic step, saying that they are excited to welcome Handycart to the larger SoPa ecosystem which will enable it to harness integrated marketing and technology proposition while also strengthening its collective senior management resources.

“We endeavour to combine the robust technology and operational efficiency of a speciality e-commerce brand like Handycart with our brand-building experience. SoPa has witnessed, with our runaway success of Leflair, in Vietnam, that this move will lead to immediate returns in terms of cost optimization and increased revenue generation. We are determined to increase merchant coverage to 500 restaurants in Hanoi by the end of 2022 and look to expand to HCMC in 3Q 2022​,” Cham said.

With Handycart leveraging on SoPa’s integrated technology platform to drive operational efficiencies and business performance, the platform will focus on increasing on-demand grocery shopping services to more consumers in the country, while empowering speciality F&B restaurants to transform business models and further increase reach in online markets.

Seo Jun Ho, CEO of Handycart, said, “Handycart was established in 2019 with a mission of connecting Korean patrons seeking a taste of home through its established network of authentic Korean restaurants right here in Vietnam. Providing businesses with speedy access to authentic Korean products has helped us gather a loyal user base of over 3000 with more than 26,000 orders in 2021 alone. SoPa will now be able to accelerate Handycart’s growth given our well-established positioning as a go-to online grocery delivery service. Partnership with Society Pass will enable us to unlock growth opportunities within the industry and I am glad that Handycart can now avail itself of SoPa’s synergistic ecosystem.”

Vietnam has been one of the fastest-growing economies within SEA over the past two decades. The country’s e-commerce is growing tremendously, valued at 13.2b USD; it is expected to grow steadily from 2021 until 2025.

Recently, SoPa entered the Philippine market with its acquisition of Pushkart.ph as the loyalty platform is an acquisition focused e-commerce holding company with focuses in Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

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Main Feature Marketing Southeast Asia

What’s NEXT: How BNPL can be a merchant enabler for retailers in Asia

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) was first introduced over 15 years ago in Europe, as a payment platform that allows shoppers to split their purchases into interest-free monthly deferred payments, usually by scanning an in-store QR code or upon checkout at a partner retailer’s website.

In recent years, BNPL has gained immense popularity amongst merchants and consumers in Asia, with its market share expected to more than double by 2024, according to the Global Payments Report 2021 by FIS-Worldpay. While BNPL is seen as a rising global movement, it is important to note that the use case and macro landscape across the regions vary significantly. 

Unlike established markets such as the United States, Australia and Europe, Asia is highly fragmented (eg. credit profile, religion, language, culture) with a large unbanked and underbanked population, especially in emerging markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam. For example, in Southeast Asia (SEA), only 27% of the overall 670 million population has bank accounts. This sizable gap in traditional banking penetration has resulted in at least 438 million unbanked or underbanked consumers, with limited access to basic financial services and subsequently, a thin credit profile. Consequently, retailers should partner with BNPL brands with robust risk assessment and credit profiling technology to minimise transaction rejects and fraud cases. 

SEA is also leading the charge in digital consumption, having added 60 million new digital consumers to the internet economy since the pandemic started. The massive digitisation that the region witnessed in 2020, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, saw SEA lead as a mobile-first consumer economy. 

Retailers partner BNPL providers to tap on the young and emerging digital consumers – shoppers who are mobile-first and digitally savvy and may be experiencing major life events such as getting their first job or house, getting married, and having their first child. It is estimated that by 2030, 75% of consumers in ASEAN will be under the age of 30.

Physical shopping in SEA remains a social activity for many, and shoppers still prefer to see and touch products before making the commitment to purchase. This is different from other developed markets in Europe or the US where e-commerce is widely adopted because of good public infrastructure (e.g. cheap broadband, good last-mile delivery to every home). 

For the shoppers in SEA, they value omnichannel retail shopper experience, one that allows them to shop and purchase seamlessly across online and offline channels. What this means for retailers and BNPL players in this region is that the physical store experience is critical when it comes to increasing in-store conversion, basket size, and the overall brand and shopping experience.

Merchants who have adopted BNPL in their business have seen benefits including improved sales, traffic, and conversions. With BNPL, merchants can also unlock a new segment of shoppers and understand their shopping behaviours. 

BNPL V2.0

As BNPL matures in Asia, it will evolve from its current basic model of interest-free monthly payments to further enable merchants. We’ve seen examples of new products and services launched, for example, co-branded cards, savings accounts, investment products, and personal finance management.

Traditional banks and even digibanks are also developing and launching their own BNPL offerings. Potential evolution pathways of BNPL and features include:

1. Greater industry adoption

With wider customer adoption and demand for payment choice and flexibility, other retail categories beyond fashion, lifestyle, and beauty categories are experimenting with BNPL. Travel and hospitality, food and beverage, and luxury and premium retail are some examples. 

2. Open-loop payment services 

Open-loop is a payment method that can be used anywhere that brand of cards or e-wallets is accepted. As BNPL gains momentum globally, BNPL players are introducing co-branded credit cards and e-wallets with payment providers to create an open-loop system that is not restricted to signed merchants. This will greatly accelerate BNPL acceptance across retailers who for example, already accept payments for example, via Visa or Mastercard. BNPL brands also partner with payment service providers, web builders, e-commerce enablers to provide integration support for merchants and accelerate the wider acceptance and integration of BNPL solutions. 

3. Social commerce 

SEA is expected to lead the biggest market for social commerce, especially given how a large chunk of its population is entering its prime of technology adoption. Social commerce (78%) has become the second most preferred shopping channel in the region, second only to e-commerce platforms (91%). 

In 2020, clothes, apparel, and accessories continue to lead social shopping (71%), followed by health and beauty (59%), and electronics and appliances (53%). A large majority of Gen Z and millennials are leveraging social platforms not just to connect and explore, but also to shop and inspire. Increasingly, BNPL players are developing social commerce features to create highly targeted and personalised content recommendations to help promote organic engagements with merchants.

4. Customised merchant services 

One of the key strengths for BNPL players is a strong understanding of user demographics and shopping behaviour. Moving forward, BNPL players can invest in co-marketing and merchant-enabler features such as social CRM, loyalty programme, co-marketing, and concierge-like membership services, and this would be crucial in connecting with a community of young, aspirational, and digitally-savvy consumers.

5. Broader financial services 

Finally, BNPL players can also introduce offerings with longer tenures especially for high-value items like electronics and smartphones, and money management services such as savings accounts and investment options. As the BNPL industry continues to thrive in the coming years, the evolution of BNPL will further enable and empower merchants and create a strong and holistic ecosystem that drives engagement and value through every facet of the consumer’s purchase journey.

This article is written by Jeremy Wong, head of strategic partnerships at BNPL platform Atome.

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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Main Feature Marketing Partners Southeast Asia

Brands, conquer the Malaysian market with this all-embracing local consumer report

Malaysia – Rich in culture with an open and diverse community, Malaysian consumers exhibit a unique set of values and behaviour. To conquer today’s Malaysian consumer in an increasingly competitive market, brands and companies must step up to learn every nook and cranny of what makes this market tick. 

The pandemic had been the most significant shift in the market in the past two years. In finding new ways of engagement and gratification, consumers had to adapt, form new behaviours, and consequently, give birth to new trends and patterns.

According to the latest e-conomy report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, there have been three million new digital consumers in Malaysia since the start of Covid. This signals that Malaysians are now recognizing a whole new need and, therefore, will expend their attention and energy on an entirely new space – digital – and more specifically, e-commerce. 

Recognizing this, affiliate marketing Commission Factory and MARKETECH APAC have teamed up to present the Malaysia Market Insight 2022, which delivers to be the extensive one-stop report that brands and industry players can refer to in order to get ahead of the game and win today’s Malaysian consumer – to do the right thing, be at the right place, and at the right time.

“The e-commerce market in Malaysia is large and one of the fastest growing digital economies in SEA. Businesses aiming for successful expansion into the Malaysian market should prepare themselves with cultural and economic insights to help learn about the market and localise themselves. Our report is a great tool for businesses to better understand how to unlock the market’s potential, from both retailer and affiliate partner point of view,” said Amanda Calkins, publisher development team lead at Commission Factory.

The Malaysia Market Insight 2022 combines and makes sense of leading local and regional statistics and insights to deliver a deep dive into Malaysian consumer behaviour and helps companies reach this diverse market in the most authentic and effective way possible.

This report is specially designed for e-commerce retailers that want a snapshot of the Malaysian market. It is also suitable for brands wanting to venture inside the Malaysian market and those currently operating in the market itself; moreover, the report looks at the Malaysia affiliate and partnership landscape.

The report is divided into two main parts: ‘Malaysian Values’ and ‘Shopping Habits’. ‘Malaysian Values’ guides not just local but also international brands to be culturally aligned with the market, while ‘Shopping Habits’ looks at the main themes of Malaysians’ consumption preferences.

Some of the top values that Malaysians hold dear are ‘Face’, the value of appropriateness; the importance of group considerations – collectivism over individualism; and also the strength of ‘social hierarchy’ where age, education, as well as the assets one possesses determine how one treats another.

On ‘Shopping habits’, the report tackles how Malaysians are weighing their options online vs offline and how cross-border e-commerce is growing massively in importance to the market. The report also discusses seasonality as a constant vital feature of Malaysian shoppers’ journey, with the country inherently having a multitude of holidays in a year. 

MARKETECH APAC’s Editor Shaina Teope comments, “With the fast changes this pandemic, consumers’ needs and demands have become more nuanced, begging for a more granular approach from brands. This is where the importance of targeted and overarching reports like the Malaysian Market Insight comes into play. The report takes a 360-degree view of the Malaysian consumer, looking at the values and culture shaping him, and how this affects the way he lives out his consumption patterns.”

Download the report here