Technology has blurred the lines between physical and online retail, marketing has become more personalized with consumers through different channels and devices. This new model of marketing is called omnichannel marketing. To thrive in this new environment, all retailers should re-examine their strategies for delivering information and products to customers.
Here are some key parameters defined by the experts at Seamless Asia 2021: The Future of Commerce in Asia for creating a successful omnichannel strategy:-
Lawrence Wen, Regional General Manager, GrabFood
New Priorities Due to COVID: The pandemic has changed the business dramatically. Food delivery has become a big part of business now as people are stuck at home. In my business line, this has helped accelerate the omnichannel retail strategy push. In this environment, we can help our partners with customer support, grow their social media presence, and create virtual stores.
Trends: For us, the situation is fluid. We are adapting our current strategy on a monthly basis across the region. Lockdowns play a triggering point for customers' ability and willingness to move around. I believe businesses have to adapt to the changing scenarios.
Important Tools/ Channels: We focused on a multi-sided loyalty program. Loyalty for not only end consumers but also for our drivers, merchants, and our partners, supplementing that with higher engagement by fun and engaging programs. On the flip side, the channel we’ve tried to push more is self-pickup.
Striking the Right Balance Between Quantitative and Qualitative: We have a trove of treasure, but the real challenge is to decipher and distill insights from it. For me, the first step is to validate this data and try to triangulate it from different sources. The second step is to use this data to target a particular customer segment, after which monitoring of right channels is necessary to check whether the initial hypothesis was correct or not, then readjust my plan accordingly.
The Future of GrabFood: Our long-term mission is to be in every single household of Southeast Asia. We are not looking to expand outside Southeast Asia because business penetration in the marketplace is still in the early stages. Delivery will be our dominant channel, and self-pickup has definitely accelerated due to COVID.
Timothy Tuason, Head of Merchants, Shopback Philippines
New Priorities Due to COVID: Food and grocery sector picked up more because we had to understand what’s important not only for our users but also for the merchants inside Shopback. We partnered with brands that want to push out beside their usual offline marketing and helped them with their digital strategies. From travel to essentials, customer priority has changed. The Philippines is now moving towards the digital phase.
Trends: I think there will be ups and downs in the market. Some countries will have a lockdown, some might not, but we’ll continue to provide value to SUM, i.e. shop backers, users, and our merchants while being malleable enough to take hits when certain countries restrict movements.
Important Tools/ Channels: We added products that would help cut across the noise by promoting gamification, challenges, and time-sensitive deals that generate urgency. Keeping customers engaged is the key.
Future of Affiliate Marketing: Google and Facebook are great for traffic. The role of affiliates now is how to convert those users, optimize those conversions, and look at it in a more profound sense. Not every traffic a merchant gets is valuable because different metrics are where affiliates come into play. On the affiliate side, it is more about the right way to go deeper, so that engagement, loyalty, and retention are a big hit, and that’s what we provide.
Craig Wheeler, Group VP of Digital and Omnichannel, Kanmo Retail Group
New Priorities Due to COVID: We have grown our digital footprint from 1 percent to nearly 20 percent, including different channels. We’ve launched new websites and apps, rolled out WhatsApp and Online chat shopping, which probably represents 50 percent of that change. Our teams impressively adapted to the change, and we have woken up to the digital appetite we already had.
Trends: In Jakarta and Indonesia, a lot of stores reopened, but there is no decline in the appetite for omnichannel ways of shopping. Whatsapp shopping has slightly balanced down as we’ve filled that gap with website and marketplace stores. Having said that, many countries are still under lockdown, so we are ready to adopt again and scale up all our operational stores. WhatsApp allows customers to contact our team quickly in our stores. I believe ease-of-communication that hits through social media and websites will enable consumers to engage with experts quickly is going to stay.
Important Tools/ Channels: Digital marketing is a channel where you reach customers via Instagram, Whatsapp, SMS, traditional Google marketing, and affiliate networks. I think these are the ways to attract customers to the store. Loyalty schemes in CRM, particularly in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, have become important.
Striking the Right Balance Between Quantitative and Qualitative: There is never too much data. But one of the challenges is to read the data in the right way. We do customer panels across all our brands; we have 200 stores and 200 colleagues giving us feedback constantly. With loyalty programs, the data we collect is almost 80 percent which helps us get a holistic view.
Role of the Store in the Future: Kanmo touched on the safety protocols earlier; our first step was to take necessary precautions for our colleagues. We don’t believe the role of the stores will be reduced in the future. Even during the lockdown, our stores were busy. We had blackout stores managing online deliveries. With the ease of access to shopping, the necessity of stores outside the mall is increasing. In 3 years, 30-40 percent of our business will be omnichannel.
Carmen Oprea, SVP Product, Happyfresh
New Priorities Due to COVID: We were invited to reimagine safety and health because this was the key priority for our customers. We invested heavily in technology, from self-checkout to cash-free transactions. On top of that, there is a major customer behavioral shift- customers across the countries preferred healthy and locally sourced products. They were interested to know the story behind these products and their nutritional value. In response to this, Happyfresh launched several new products, including farm-to-table solutions.
Important Tools/ Channels: Channels haven’t changed much for us. We have decided to push different types of messaging across channels in line with customer behavior. We have invested in rich content that connects well with our brand's philosophy. We have been doing this for 5-6 years, so the data we acquired during this journey is critical, and we understand what is needed to build long-term trust and relationships with our consumer base. Happy fresh launched a loyalty program at the end of last year, and this played a key role in customer retention & frequency. Lastly, investing in referrals, blogs, and our content has been critical in improving our organic acquisitions.
Striking the Right Balance Between Quantitative and Qualitative: This is important for a business like Happyfresh because understanding your customer is the key to success in food. Our different teams focus on Happyfresh funnel performance quantitative data in depth and detail. This gives us better chances of understanding trends that might be in play and then understanding the customer behavior. So, the answer is an intersection of all these data sets rather than looking at them individually.
User Interaction with Happyfresh: Five years from now, online grocery shopping will be well understood and have a high adoption in the market. There will be one big weekly basket serviced by supermarkets or partners with a wide assortment. Also, immediate on-demand purchases will be high. The mix of these two behaviors will define online grocery shopping in the future.