Southeast Asia saw a rapid adoption of digital services like e-commerce, food delivery, and online payment methods over the last two years as governments encouraged people to stay at home.
An estimated 70 million more people shopped online in six Southeast Asian countries since the pandemic began, according to a report from Facebook and Bain & Company.
The report, which surveyed more than 16,000 people in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, projected the number of digital consumers in Southeast Asia to hit 350 million at the end of 2021. More than 70% of people 15-years-old and above in the surveyed countries shopped online.
While Southeast Asia has now opened up and consumers are back in-store, the trend in online shopping has continued, but hybrid shopping is also becoming more common.
Payments Consulting Network Managing Director, Mangala Martinus, caught up with Juliana Chu, Vice President of Digital & eCommerce, Asia Pacific, Shiseido, to discuss Shiseido’s approach to digital marketing and how the lessons from the last two years are expected to shape the future of e-commerce.
You can read the highlights of the conversation below.
MM: Please explain your role.
JC: I oversee e-commerce, media, CRM and consumer insights for Shisheido in Asia Pacific across eight markets – six in Southeast Asia, plus Korea and Taiwan.
MM: How do you measure success in your role?
JC: Like many retailers we have been undertaking a digital transformation of the business. Firstly, we want to see ecommerce sales as a share of total sales increase year-on-year. Secondly we want to deliver personalised customer experiences and use our CRM tools to better leverage our first party data. Key measures of success on this component fall under recruitment and loyalty, e.g. the number of new customers acquired and active customers retained.
MM: How do you leverage first party data to personalise the customer experience on your website?
JC: We divide first party data into two buckets which we use to offer the right product recommendations and promotions:
Basic personal data (birthday, gender, where you live,) can be used to provide product recommendations based on different stages of your life journey (e.g. certain premium anti-aging products may be offered as you reach a certain age, or income level), or your location can be used to offer promotions or incentives that are occurring in your local area.
Behavioural data (purchase behaviour, average spend, frequency), can be used for cross-selling (e.g. skin care only customers, may be given coupons to incentivise them to buy cosmetics)
MM: How critical is social media in your success?
JC: Social media is critical as our target consumers, are young females. They love to engage with each other on social media and also follow Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), checking out their live streaming sessions that showcase certain products. KOLs could be beauty consultants, celebrities, or just people who have an opinion on beauty products.
We invest quite a bit on social media, especially on KOLs. We leverage all the usual suspects – Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok.
MM: What do you see as more important when it comes to social media marketing – content or influencers?
JC: Both are important – influencers bringing out the right content works. Beauty is naturally a very word of mouth industry. You need to have someone who is convincing enough to tell you how to apply the product and explain how good the product is.
MM: How do you engage with visitors to your website?
JC: How we engage with visitors to our site varies between new visitors and returning customers.
A new customer will have near to no knowledge of our products. So, the kinds of content that we give out to new customers will be different. You will see for example, a different homepage for new customers versus someone who is a repeat visitor.
For repeat customers, we can reference their previous browsing and purchase history, so for example may remind them to replenish stock.
MM: How important is it to select the right payment service provider and what are the key criteria that you look at when evaluating payment service providers
JC: Selecting the right payment service provider is very important. Looking at the whole consumer shopping journey – it’s all the way from scouting for information about our brand and our products (discovery), to closing the sales loop (payment), and then building loyalty. Payment is part of this consumer experience and that is where the payment service provider comes in. If a consumer has a poor checkout experience because it’s slow, not user friendly, or there are concerns about security, then they may not continue with the purchase. Hence, ensuring a frictionless checkout experience is critical.
MM: What tips can you give for other e-commerce businesses for ensuring a frictionless checkout experience for customers?
JC: For me the three most critical elements of a frictionless checkout experience are:
Speed – whenever anything is virtual, you expect speed.
A good interface – is it clear where I need to press? Ideally, I don’t want to be scrolling down or filling out a long form.
Security – the transaction needs to feel safe, with no prior experience of hacking on the site.
MM: What lessons have you learned from the last two years, and how will they shape your future e-commerce strategy?
JC: Digital and e-commerce are continually changing, so the experience from the last few years will not necessarily be valid.
COVID added complexity and variability – behaviour during a very serious COVID outbreak, a period of easing of restrictions, and then life back to “normal” were all very different situations.
We need to consider the long-term impact of COVID on the offline and online mix to see how the shopping experience evolves. Will people want to come back into the shops, or will people continue to shop more online, or take a hybrid approach? For example, I may still go to the shop to check out the products, but then I might close the sales loop online because I want the goods to be delivered to me rather than carrying them home.
So, I think one key learning is that we just have to keep track of the continuously evolving shopper behaviour during different times, and diligently monitor and update our understanding of the consumer decision journey.
The second key learning is that technology in the beauty industry is also evolving, with COVID providing the impetus. For example, you can virtually trial cosmetic products by uploading a photo and add different shades of say a lipstick onto your image. The metaverse will take this further – creating avatars in virtual worlds, using virtual influencers, or shopping in a virtual world. Our target customers are young females, and they love to check out and adopt virtual customer experiences.
MM: What will you be sharing at eTail Asia?
JC: I will be discussing much of what we have described, in particular, first party data capture and usage to generate personalisation.
MM: What are the key topics you are keen to listen to and why is eTail a must-not-miss event?
JC: Key topics that interest me are analytics (e.g. using AI to perform decision making on the go) and the metaverse. When you are new to something you want to turn to experts and eTail Asia is a great way of easily accessing expert insights.
eTail Asia gathers everyone who is in the sector – retailers and vendors – in the one space. We get to network with industry peers, discuss common challenges and learn tips on how to resolve them; and to find the right suppliers to provide the help that we need.
Juliana Chu has participated in the panel Confessions of Rockstar Digital Marketers – Revealing the good, the bad and the ugly in digital marketing at eTail Asia 2022.
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