The pandemic was one of the catalysts of the ‘e-comm boom’ and it caused a huge number of new online shoppers and businesses to join the game.
But even before the health crisis, the Asian digital market was already leading the way with its innovative approaches to online shopping. E-commerce experts Anatole Rousseau (Director Foodservice and E-commerce, Barilla), Delphine Dierckx (Head of Commercial APAC, Foodpanda), Omnath Killekar (Product and Consumer Insights, Swiggy), and Tom Vande Moortel (Business Development Director, EyeSee) shared their thoughts on a successful digital-first approach and the APAC e-commerce tactics and strategies that are pushing the envelope.
Here is what the APAC e-commerce experts have to say:
FORGET ABOUT A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL SOLUTION
What’s certain, both in the APAC region and beyond, is that most businesses operate differently in different markets – brands’ landscapes and business models vary and new ones are always emerging. Finding one unique solution for the varying and changing landscapes would be a challenge. So, what’s the move? Barilla’s Anatole Rousseau is a strong advocate for gathering a deep understanding of various environments and markets, learning different behavioural patterns of consumers to build a strong strategy going onward.
This strategy also depends on the level of development of the brand in a specific country. For example, if the brand still needs to grow in penetration, it is key to focus on increasing awareness and convincing consumers to buy. A good e-commerce strategy can make a big difference for the latter, as well as opportunities for consumers to bond with the product and to become a product advocates (e.g. via reviews).
BE QUICK TO VENTURE OUT INTO NEW TRENDS
Foodpanda has become one of the leading e-commerce companies that specialises in grocery delivery in under 20 minutes – across 20 countries in the region. Delphine Dierckx, Head of Commercial APAC, recognises that trends such as quick commerce or q-commerce have started to take the digital stage a lot faster in APAC countries than in the rest of the world. Instead of consumers waiting 3–5 business days for a product, they can get it in just 20 minutes. In India alone, it’s expected that this niche market will reach $5 billion by 2025.
As far as brick-and-mortar and online integration goes, Foodpanda’s expert states that, for most stores, the online and offline cannot be seen separately – in the future the one will continue to need to support the other. One of the clear advantages of physical stores is that they easily draw in new customers, whereas to win in the online arena, shoppers need to be on their phones or computers. A great example of a brand creatively bridging the different channels is Alibaba – it developed a new retail concept that brings its online brands offline, to reel in new customers from the stores to its digital platform.
COMBINE DIFFERENT DATASETS BEYOND JUST RESEARCH
Unlike other countries, India’s e-commerce growth stems from its smaller towns, although Swiggy’s Omnath Killekar believes they are still in the early stages of online development. People residing in the top eight metro cities have already been shopping online regularly, but now their basket sizes are increasing – and the types of goods that they are purchasing are expanding. The increased frequency of e-shopping indicates that India’s baseline for e-commerce’s role in the daily life of a shopper is shifting – and consumer research is following the lead.
Traditionally, research is based on asking questions – when in doubt, ask the shopper about their opinion. However, a plethora of sources that can offer insights are becoming more accessible than ever. Nowadays, there are two types of data to work with – the ‘outside data’ collected from primary research, and the ‘inside data’, that any business can gather from its e-commerce platform (funnel conversions, website visits, etc). Understanding not only how to extract the two datasets but also how to marry them to yield actionable insights is really the name of the game. The cross-section of the two shows the real picture of the areas of opportunity and improvement.
TEST ONLINE BEHAVIOUR FOR AN OPTIMAL E-COMMERCE PRESENCE
In fast-changing landscapes, it is crucial to base decisions on solid facts and figures. Behavioural research has established itself well in the brick-and-mortar domain – but how can this approach go from bricks to clicks? There are three levels to approaching testing the impact of e-commerce – with the help of an award-winning behavioural framework.
EyeSee’s Tom Vande Moortel explains that, depending on the level of a study, there are two ways to approach it: top-down (strategy to tactical) or bottom-up (making sure ads, product images, and promos are designed for optimal visibility and clicks). While a top-down strategy might seem intuitive, the perks of a bottom-up approach are immediate wins with actionable results and a tangible sales impact. The knowledge from these studies is often transferable to other products and platforms. While passive data offers a large pool of insights, going a step further and putting a shopper in a realistic virtual environment and measuring how they behave in it offers a much clearer and richer picture of the steps they take while shopping.
On top of this, navigating the digital shopping experience, the online path to purchase, is a great way to keep track of friction points to ensure a smooth consumer journey. By uncovering the common paths users take on a website’s homepage, the actual visibility of products and element pages of PLPs and PDPs, and the easiness of shopping, you get insight into real shopping behaviour, purchase triggers, and conversion drivers on the platform.