The COVID-19 pandemic sparked an acceleration of online consumption, presenting boundless opportunities for brands and businesses in Southeast Asia. With the rise of eCommerce, mCommerce (or mobile-first commerce) has taken off in the region, growing at an unprecedented pace in the past year and a half. As the “new normal” becomes firmly established, it’s clear that this upward trend in eCommerce growth will continue.
We sat down with our regional teams to get more insights and predictions on what online shoppers need from brands.
Time to Update Your Digital Marketplace Strategy
Consumers across Southeast Asia have been on a digital literacy journey. Post-pandemic, consumers are much more comfortable with digital marketplace platforms and online shopping.
“When you come across a brand, they likely have an online presence where you can shop for your favorites without leaving home. The pandemic emphasized the convenience and safety of purchasing items online, so while consumers have returned to shopping from brick-and-mortar stores, their online purchasing habits are cementing themselves,” said Rae Cay, Vero’s Digital Account Manager in the Philippines.
Even big brands from the rice industry, which mainly sold through location-based stores, jumped onto eCommerce platforms like Shopee, Lazada, and TikTok, as these platforms have been on a steady rise with Gen Z and Millennial customers. However, the biggest challenge these brands face when operating on these platforms is the delivery cost for end consumers due to the heavy weight of their product.
Grab is an example of a company that has addressed this challenge by providing a comprehensive range of delivery services. In addition to ride-hailing services, Grab offers on-demand food, package delivery, cashless payments, financial services, and grocery delivery on their mobile super-app. With Grab’s extensive network and logistics capabilities, FMCG brands can leverage their services to offer affordable and efficient delivery options to their customers, particularly for heavy products that would otherwise incur high delivery costs. This way, FMCG brands can tap into the growing eCommerce market without worrying about logistics and delivery charges for customers.
Evolving From eCommerce to mCommerce
Brands and businesses need to be able to intercept the customer wherever they are, at the exact moment when they are most inclined to buy and accompany them throughout the process of purchase decisions. This is where mCommerce can play an essential part in the consumer journey.
“The consumer’s journey is no longer linear but requires omnichannel effort. This said, brands should make themselves present everywhere that conversion could happen,” said Quang Do, Vice President of IMC Consulting at Vero. “Consumer journeys can be shorter than ever before. By engaging with influencers online, the first time a consumer sees a new product (awareness) can be combined with a peer review (consideration) and buying the product via a platform-generated tag. All this in just one single piece of influencer-generated content.”
Culture is changing at the speed of social, and at the center is user-generated content (UGC) from influencers and communities. Audiences now want to be part of a community with like-minded people, and UGC content/trends offer them the chance to be a part of something special and feel ownership of the content they are creating. As most retail traffic now comes from mobile, and collaborations with nano and micro-influencers have proven to generate better conversion rates, brands should consider mCommerce campaigns as central to consumers’ new purchase paths. TikTok, for example, now integrates shopping into its platform, giving brands a more impactful way to combine content with sales.
In Indonesia, mobile-first shopping has become the norm. Pushed by monthly promotions like “Double Day” or “Mega Sale Day” offers from shopping platforms like Shopee and Lazada, consumers cannot resist the opportunity to find a bargain. In addition to this, live shopping has been building hype. Indonesian shoppers stay up until three or four a.m. to shop via live streams, with e-commerce platforms like Lazada or Shopee taking almost as much of Indonesia’s screen time as other social media platforms.
Convenience, Access and Personalization
To make the most of new purchase paths offered by mobile devices, there is a need to prioritize convenience, accessibility, improved user experience, and personalization on mobile platforms.
Creating mobile-friendly and responsive sites and apps are crucial to providing a convenient experience for users who frequently use smartphones and tablets to access websites. Such efforts also consider whether the mobile sites are accessible to users with disabilities; for example, the implementation of features like text-to-speech and screen readers.
Improving the user experience on mobile phones requires designing sites with user-friendly interfaces and optimizing loading times. Mobile-first design principles help create a seamless and engaging experience for users.
Doan Ngoc Mai Khanh, Associate IMC Account Manager, Vero, tells us that “personalization is critical in driving engagement and sales on mobile platforms. Brands should use their data to personalize content and recommendations based on user preferences and behavior. Platforms like TikTok have already integrated shopping into their platform, providing brands with a more impactful way to combine content with sales while offering personalized recommendations to users.”
Additionally, authenticity, brand fit, and long-term partnership remain key to successful collaboration.
For example, in 2020, our campaign “All Firsts Make the Man” for Dorco successfully promoted the brand as a razor brand for young people through user-generated content. The campaign invited young people to share their stories and photos of doing something for the first time on a Dorco landing page. Vero curated and featured selected stories on Dorco’s Facebook page; the top three stories received prizes.
The campaign leveraged three key influencers, a game streamer, a young pilot, and a singer, to share their stories and link to the landing page on Facebook. Twenty micro-influencers spread the story contest on Facebook and Instagram using a viral challenge.
In addition, Vero collaborated with Beat.vn to create a collaboration vlog featuring street interviews with young people in Hanoi about their first time doing something. The street interviews ran concurrently with the contest to maintain buzz.
As a result, this campaign formed an inclusive message about the diversity of men’s experiences and ideas about what it means to be a man.
Mixing shopping and entertainment to build brand love
The integration of shopping into social apps, and social activities like games, discounts and competitions into eCommerce platforms means that shoppers NOW associate entertainment with purchasing. In Indonesia, though eCommerce and mCommerce are rising in popularity amongst consumers, the main reason behind the hype is discounts. When running a mCommerce campaign, brands should consider this to manage their budgets and attract more customers.
When running these campaigns, brands should also be aware of their product proposition, not only with cold data but also by developing a good storytelling strategy when promoting. Brands should integrate product offers with descriptive texts, interactive videos, and voice-over content. Rich content helps to give a clearer perception of the product, making it better known to the customer and contextualizing it within a specific purchasing experience.
“Whether on a high-engagement platform like TikTok or incorporated into an influencer or brand’s owned channels, shoppable content will help brands reach audiences at the right time and place, as well as shortening customer journeys, getting direct to the conversion stage” Nguyen Truong Yen Phi, Nguyen Truong Yen Phi, Associate IMC Account Manager in Vietnam.
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