Marketing Featured East Asia

AS Watson Group leads top Hong Kong retailers

Hong Kong – The consequences of the pandemic are unprecedented and felt around the world, wreaking havoc across the retail industry. Euromonitor International, the global independent strategic market research provider firm, has revealed its list of the top companies within the retailing industry in the APAC region for 2020, and in Hong Kong, more than half of the leading companies in 2019 are still the ones that ruled 2020.

The majority of the 10 companies on the list maintained their sales growth and rankings in 2020. International health and beauty retailer AS Watson Group has retained its standing, coming out to reign the rankings as the top retailer. This was followed by Dairy Farm International Holdings, the pan-Asian retailer that operates across food, health and beauty, and home furnishings, and restaurants, with Japan-based distribution business firm Seven & I Holdings Co landing in the third spot.

Meanwhile, jewelry company Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group also maintained its sales as well, coming out in the fourth spot, while property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties caps the top five. One of the firms that have also retained growth for the year is convenience store firm Alimentation Couche-Tard ending in the eighth spot.

Two out of the top 10 firms have registered improvement in sales, namely, retail and financial services company AEON Group and multimedia business firm Hong Kong Television Network, landing in the sixth and seventh spots respectively.

On the other hand, jewelry retailer firm Luk Fook Holdings and retail chain company Broadway Photo Supply have dropped sales in 2020.

AS Watson Group, which registered $9.8b in sales in 2020 came out as the 34th leading retailer in the Asia region. For the region, Alibaba Group Holding took the crown with $367b in total sales for the year.

According to Euromonitor, the pandemic has had a significant negative effect on consumer confidence, leading many to rein in their spending, which impacted many retailers adversely enough to exit the market. However, the pandemic has been a boon for grocery retailers and e-commerce and will continue to enjoy strong growth in retail current value sales, as consumers become more interested in home cooking and following a healthier diet.

In 2021, the research firm believes that brick-and-mortar sales will begin to rebound, while retailers that depend on tourism will be the slowest to recover, including stores selling jewelry, watches, and apparel, as well as footwear, and luggage.

Marketing Featured East Asia

About 73% of Greater Bay Area retailers applying localized digital strategies: report

Hong Kong – As more and more consumers are embracing an online-to-offline (O2O) approach to the retail industry, a greater majority of retailers across Hong Kong and nine key cities in Mainland China, known as the ‘Greater Bay Area’ (GBA), are keeping in mind the importance of digital strategies to their business, specifically in the local setting, a new report from consulting firm KPMG, in partnership with the Hong Kong arm of business communication non-profit GS1, and financial institution HSBC shows.

In its latest report, they note that 73% of GBA retailers are implementing localized forms of their retail digital strategies, keeping in mind that they are increasing their use of both direct-to-consumer e-commerce and third-party e-commerce platforms.

The most common business functions for which 43% of surveyed retailers are implementing a GBA strategy are sales and marketing and communications, as companies look to attract customers in the mainland China market. Thirty percent of those retailers polled are developing a GBA programme for fulfilment, logistics, operations or supply chain management.

Consumer-wise, one in two (50%) of Hong Kong consumers said they felt more comfortable about shopping online since the start of the pandemic, not far behind the 59% of respondents from the nine mainland China GBA cities surveyed. Tellingly, 24% of Hong Kong consumers and 23% of those in the mainland GBA cities say they could live without physical retail stores.

The greater force that the report notes as game-changer for the modern retailer is the choice of Gen Z consumers towards online shopping, as 73% of Gen Z consumers in Hong Kong and 86% in mainland GBA cities expecting a swift response to product enquiries logged on online chat, and expecting brands to use tech including AI to help shortlist new products. 

They also expect augmented reality (AR) functions to help them make better purchases online, with 61% in Hong Kong, and 82% in mainland GBA cities. The research also shows Gen Z consumers prefer contactless shopping (60% in Hong Kong and 77% in mainland GBA cities). Around 76% of retailers surveyed are adopting at least one type of Gen Z-specific strategy.

In the mid of the rising population of shoppers moving towards online, GBA retailers need to act fast to respond to the consumers’ O2O needs. The research shows a vast gap between customer expectations and what retailers are delivering, with 77% of Hong Kong and 85% of mainland respondents in the GBA indicating that retailers need to have a better connection between channels and create a seamless customer journey. Among retail executives that were surveyed on their actions to enhance customer experience, only 39% of businesses were currently focusing on the integration between physical stores and online, suggesting a significant gap in retailers’ O2O propositions.

Alice Yip, partner at head of consumer and industrial markets for Hong Kong at KPMG China, notes that these results cement the fact that more consumers are buying more online than ever before, and the retail brands who have best survived this rapid transition are those who have proven agile in their response to the growing demand for digital engagement.

“Hong Kong and mainland China GBA retailers are already implementing strategies for regional growth across the region while also looking to expand into Southeast Asia, with industry leaders emphasising the need for adequate localisation of products, services and marketing approaches to attract the growing pool of digital-savvy consumers,” Yip stated.

For Anna Lin, CEO at GS1, she explains that consumers expect a seamless transition from an in-store experience to an online experience. She added that consumers also want to engage with brands across social media and other digital media and they expect brands to use technology to improve customer service, ease of payments, flexible delivery options and convenient returns.

This is also agreed by Lewis Sun, head of product management for global liquidity and cash management for Asia Pacific at HSBC, who commented, “In order to deliver a seamless customer journey, more retailers in the Greater Bay Area are looking for a single platform that can take payments from multiple channels – from credit cards, bank transfers to e-wallets.”

As retailers and brands develop more complex digital channels and deploy new technologies, sourcing, upskilling and reskilling talent to build a future-ready workforce will be a key priority for retailers in navigating the new normal and capturing growth opportunities. With technical areas such as IT and systems support (38%), data analytics (35%), and research & development (31%) identified as top areas demanding more workforce, professional development programs as well as talent exchange within the GBA will provide opportunities to fill the gaps.

Technology Featured ANZ

Shopify’s integrated retail hardware launch in AU marked with latest study on shopping behaviors

Sydney, Australia – As e-commerce company Shopify brings to Australia its latest suite of integrated retail hardware and payments for retailers in the country, the company has recently published a study on the status quo of the local retail scene.

According to the study, despite online shopping likely to double, most Aussies still prefer to shop in-store. However, retailers are having to cater to and accommodate new ways of shopping such as contactless payments, local delivery, and click-and-collect that have been accelerated by the global pandemic.

Furthermore, Aussies are increasingly turning online to make their purchases. The research shows the number of shoppers buying mostly online will likely double post-pandemic vs. pre-pandemic, from 7% pre-pandemic to 15% now that many COVID-19 restrictions have started to ease. 

Shopify also noted that buying in brick-and-mortar stores, still tops Australia’s shopping preference with 64% of people choosing to buy mostly in physical stores post-pandemic, compared to 79% before COVID-19.

“We are experiencing a fundamental shift in how people shop following the global pandemic. This new retail renaissance is forcing retailers to adapt to new business models, as digital disruption is fueled by rocketing customer expectations for convenience, personalization, experience, and safety,” said Shaun Broughton, managing director APAC at Shopify.

The report also reveals the number of Australians buying online for click-and-collect or local delivery will continue to grow compared to pre-pandemic. The former increased from 17% pre-pandemic to 23% post-pandemic, and deliveries from online purchases grew from 37% to 43% accordingly. On the other hand, buying through social media is predicted to stay relatively low among Aussies, sitting at 5-6%.

In other data, Shopify noted that the top 3 expectations of consumers are free shipping (64%), easy returns (58%), and efficient customer service (57%). About 8 in 10 shoppers say buying local is important to them, with proximity (77%) and supporting local business owners (60%) cited as the main reasons why. 

Meanwhile, 29% of online shoppers would select pick-up from a physical store location if free-shipping is not available, and 52% expect retailers to offer ‘click-and-collect’. Furthermore, 93% have used a non-cash means of payment while shopping in-store (e.g debit card, credit card, mobile wallet).

“Australia has quickly become an important market for Shopify, so bringing integrated retail hardware and in-store payments to our Australian retail merchants is a pivotal step in future-proofing their businesses,” Broughton added.

Shopify’s hardware launch, categorized under the Shopify Point of Sale (POS) and Shopify Payments suite, aims to bring said benefits:

  • The ability for retailers to accept all major payment methods, however, and wherever they need to in order to make the sale
  • Secure and reliable checkouts for both retailers and customers when completing a sale, all through a single POS system.
  • Unified back office to track and manage sales, payments, and payouts across online and in-person retail all from a single location
  • Returns and exchanges helping retailers assist customers with purchases made online or at other locations
  • Upfront pricing with a single rate for all credit cards and no hidden fees or hardware rental fees
Technology Featured South Asia

Mondelez India urges ‘Goodness’ this Diwali, through hyper-localized ad campaign supporting local retailers

India – To promote local businesses in the middle of the country’s annual festival of lights Diwali, Mondelez India launches a hyper-localized ad campaign that will encourage local promotion of local retailers across India.

The ad campaign leverages artificial intelligence to promote geo-targeted visibility of more than 1800 participating local retailers, across over 260 pin codes in the country. 

Initially, the video ad campaign depicts an Indian family rejoicing in the festivity of Diwali, while highlighting the gifts being given are from local businesses. The video campaign ends with the message “When all of us support our local stores, all of us can have a Happy Diwali.” Custom video ads are also produced for certain areas to promote local businesses.

“Throughout festivities exchanging gifts and sweets holds a significant emotional value and embarks the beginning of a new era, and it makes us extremely proud about the fact that we humbly found a place in this small, yet important tradition.  Moreover, this year, than any other warrants for acts that signify new beginnings and the potential  of goodness in an imperfect world, and our recent Cadbury Celebrations campaign infuses this  thought at the back of evoking generosity,”  commented Anil Viswanathan, Senior Director – Marketing (Chocolates), Insights and Analytics, Mondelez India. 

Context video for the hyper-localized ad campaign.

The campaign will run until the 15th of November, a day after the initial observance of Diwali.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Malaysia’s eCommerce Youbeli, PJ Digital Mall make the jump to Online-to-Offline commerce

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – eCommerce platform Youbeli has collaborated with IT mall PJ Digital Mall to adopt an online-to-offline (O2O) commerce.

The new partnership comes as Youbeli gears up for its 10.10 sale event. It has brought together 10 participating tenants from the mall onboard the Youbeli platform.

In conjunction with the 10.10 campaign, the parties have prepared surprise freebies for customers who prefer to self-pickup items from the mall. In the future, Youbeli said that it will be offering same-day delivery to any addresses within a 10km radius from the PJ Digital Mall.

Meanwhile, up until 10 October 2020, shopping vouchers and promotions will be continually announced on Youbeli’s and PJ Digital Mall’s Facebook pages. The promotions will be applicable for computers, laptops, and accessories.

This will be the second time that the platform has collaborated with a physical shopping mall, and according to Youbeli CEO Chua Khai Suan, the new partnership is part of their ongoing O2O initiative to help brick-and-mortar retailers to attract sales.

“[Instead] of competing as two different entities, we complement each other’s business model to bring the best deals for our customers,” Chua said.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Fang, leasing manager of Digital Mall shared, “Since we started the collaborative campaign on 1 October, we saw a long queue of customers outside the mall especially last weekend.”

“At times like this, we need to ensure businesses continue to run to support the country’s economy however much we can so we can reduce the number of unemployment due to the pandemic,” Fang added.

Just recently, Youbeli has also partnered with a co-eCommerce player, Taiwan’s PChomeSEA, to integrate its products to the platform.

Platforms Featured APAC

Google extends free listing on shopping service to more APAC retailers

United States – As more businesses in the APAC region turn to eCommerce amid the pandemic, Google has decided to make it free for merchants to list their products on the Google Shopping tab, which takes effect in mid-October.

The free listing has been available in India and Indonesia since 2019 and was earlier introduced to the United States in April as part of its COVID support to retailers.

“For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, it means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings,” said President of Google for APAC Scott Beaumont on a product update.

Google said the time of the pandemic changed the way people shop and sell in the region. According to Google analysis, 53% of online shoppers in APAC stated that they’ll choose to buy online more frequently after the pandemic, while almost 40% who weren’t online shoppers before said they intend to continue buying online.

To help retailers adjust to the changes, Google will be offering skills training through its dedicated learning resource Grow with Google. Google will also be sharing research and insights on its market research platform Think with Google to inform retailers’ business decisions.

In addition, Google has launched a playbook and webinar series on how to better manage digital storefronts. It will also be working closely with a number of partners to help merchants manage their products and inventory; this includes global partners like eCommerce platform Shopify, and those across the region such as Vietnam-based SEO website design platform Haravan, eCommerce Shopline in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and Thailand’s eCommerce business provider LnwShop.  

The free listings will be automatically applied to retailers already registered on its Merchant Center and those currently using Shopping Ads, while for new registrants, Google will continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks.