Ongoing disruptions around the world have impacted economies everywhere. The Japan-APAC retail industry is no different.
As countries across Japan and Asia-Pacific ease restrictions, it’s crucial that businesses realize changing consumer behaviors, sentiments, and beliefs, and introduce new strategies to connect more deeply with their customers.
In Singapore, for example, safe distancing measures implemented by the government have driven an increase in online shopping activities, with two in five consumers indicating they have turned to this mode of shopping. In Australia, consumers are becoming more cautious, as they pay closer attention to pricing and look for locally made products.
The shifts in consumer habits are clear. As people become limited in what they can do offline, they start turning to online. Even those who do not usually shop online have switched their habit.
Connecting with customers using new business models
Over the past six months, businesses have been adapting to uncertainties in different ways. Some have been massively disrupted and others have entered a prime growth stage in which they are seeing increased demand for what they offer.
One thing they all have in common, however, is they all have had to adjust their business models to align with the new environment.
For example, online grocers in Singapore and Australia have adopted innovative ways to overcome logistical challenges by working with ride-hailing services to help with deliveries.
Adding the next wave of e-commerce trends into the carts
Brands are also aggressively trying to bring the in-person experience to consumers via their small- and big-screen devices.
For instance, live-stream shopping, a combination of e-commerce with live-streaming to produce an interactive, experiential and real-time shopping experience, is getting increasing traction across Asia.
Moreover, the retail industry is no stranger to automation trends.
From automating browsing, recommendations and purchasing to delivery arrangements, automated commerce (a-Commerce) is here to stay in the future of shopping.
Taking stock in the cloud
We know that for brands to take on the new next in retail, data is the key. From back-office to the shop-floor, retail brands need to harness their data reservoirs to deliver an insight-rich, personalized user experience in order to stand out from competitors. The answer to this is in the Cloud.
When retailers are faced with an unknown path ahead, the first point of order is to manage the shift in their operations.
Given the supply-chain and logistics obstacles faced, it is important for brands to leverage the cloud to streamline operations and ensure there is minimal disruption at the shop-front. Business operations are now being managed remotely and adding more automation to finance, HR, and supply chain jobs can increase remote work productivity and drive enhanced customer service as organizations create new forms of customer engagement.
As one of the leading online marketplaces in Indonesia, unicorn company Bukalapak adopted Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)and Human Capital Management (HCM) cloud to better manage its financial and workforce data, as a connected intelligent business. With real-time information, the Bukalapak financial team can process financial data faster, more efficiently, and more accurately and takes lesser time to manage accounts and close books.
For instance, Vinomofo, a global online wine retailer across Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, leverages the supply chain management cloud to obtain real-time data on inventory and sales.
Due to the recent restaurants and pubs closures, Australians have gone online to purchase wines rather than risk going out. By automating processes and fine-tuning their inventory and delivery speed with the cloud, Vinomofo has been able to scale up operations to enhance customer service, with minimal disruption to logistics operations.
As a result, Vinomofo has been able to deliver wine three times faster than before, resulting in increased traffic to their platform, as well as higher conversion rates.
On the other hand, as businesses shift their operations to cater to their consumers, it is equally important for them to pay attention to how their customers are responding to the changes they are making in how they go to market. Customers’ purchase-history information, preferred communication channels, shopping behavior, and social media activities are all relevant data points in the cloud that retailers should be tapping into to stay connected.
The largest e-commerce fashion company in Southeast Asia, ZALORA, shows how businesses can pivot to remain relevant in the environment in which it is operating in. At a time when customer needs have pivoted towards essentials and other items, ZALORA successfully enhanced its platform to support this sudden shift in demand during the pandemic.
With the right back-end system, ZALORA has been able to respond in real-time to each personalized interaction with the customer, extracting the data that matters in customer interactions and providing great customer experience. By leveraging the cloud, ZALORA has become an orchestrator of personalized conversations, where they are able to speak to customers in a relevant and tailored manner. The flexibility and adaptability of the tools have been instrumental to enabling ZALORA’s quick response, driving continuous growth amidst uncertain times.
MonotaRO,a Japanese e-Commerce company for industrial supply products that operates in Japan Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia, is another example of a company that has seen success in the cloud. It leverages the cloud to help its customers navigate its website effortlessly with self-service recommendation functions and online chat. The company has also implemented the EPM cloud to manage its group-wide financial data on a single platform and be able to make better-informed decisions.
A spree of possibilities
Although the road ahead for the retail industry may be unknown, one certainty is that brands that reinvent and adopt new ways to overcome challenges are the ones that will succeed in the next era of retail. By making sense of existing data, retailers have the potential to open a spree of possibilities in a new shopping environment.