By Adrian Johnston, Senior Vice President of Cloud Applications (SaaS), Japan and Asia Pacific, Oracle Corporation
Ongoing disruptions around the world have impacted economies everywhere. As countries across Japan and Asia-Pacific ease restrictions, it’s crucial that businesses realise changing consumer behaviours, 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 to the new environment5.
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 livestreaming 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 key. From back-office to the shop-floor, retail brands need to harness their data reservoirs to deliver an insight-rich, personalised 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.
For instance, 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.
Together with Oracle Cloud Customer Experience Marketing, 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.
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 behaviour and social media activities are all relevant data points in the cloud that retailers should be tapping into to stay connected.
Case in point, one of the leading online marketplaces in Indonesia, unicorn company Bukalapak adopted Oracle Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Oracle Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) 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.
A spree of possibilities
Although the road ahead for the retail industry may be unknown, one certainty is that brands which reinvent and adopt new ways to overcome challenges are the ones which 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.