By: Kawal Preet, president of Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA), FedEx Express
December 9, 2021 — Today, if you’re not buying online, you’re probably the exception rather than the norm, especially with the holiday gift-buying season upon us. Consumer demand is such that e-commerce growth rates in the Asia Pacific region have already met projections for 2025. For sellers, setting up a storefront on platforms like Alibaba – home to a combined 1 billion active users globally – is now a given. This year, retailers are ramping up efforts to cut through an increasingly crowded online marketplace. As logistics underpins e-commerce sales, we’ve witnessed some critical shifts that may help retailers stay ahead this holiday season.
E-commerce 3.0: Immersive experiences
E-commerce 1.0 was all about building a website and product catalogue for people to purchase. E-commerce 2.0 centred on building omni-channel retail and understanding more about customer buying patterns through data analytics. Now we’re living in an era of e-commerce 3.0, which applies approaches like livestreaming and augmented or virtual reality to create immersive customer experiences that bring better brand and product understanding and better service to those browsing online. In fact, close to 50% of consumers say they would pay extra for a product if brands could offer more immersive shopping experiences.
China has long been the global trendsetter in the e-commerce field and it’s fair to say what happens here defines the way forward. With more than 638 million Chinese engaging with livestreams and shopping online, livestream platforms are now a critical engine driving e-commerce growth. Ahead of this year’s Singles Day sale, one of China’s top live streamers sold a staggering US$1.7 billion worth of goods within the first 12 hours, attracting more than 250 million views.
As more small businesses build their e-commerce presence, China’s live commerce successes are now being replicated elsewhere in the region. The intent to shop on social media platforms is going up, as high as 88% in countries like Thailand.
Dig deeper: Consider subscription
Shopping online may have lowered the barrier to making a transaction but engaging with your customers so they keep coming back for more can be tricky. Consumers are inundated with a sea of product information every day. A simple search of ‘camera’ on Amazon yields 70,000 results, and let’s not forget the programmatic advertising that consumers are exposed to once the search occurs. In short, consumers are easily distracted.
Subscription models can help increase returning customers. When it comes to e-commerce, small businesses in Asia are also capitalizing on this trend. Just look at the popularity of monthly wine hampers in Australia, beauty boxes in Korea, and premium fruit baskets in Japan.
All of this is being fuelled by consumers’ increasing disposable income and pent-up desire to live life to the fullest during the pandemic. Prolonged lockdowns have meant that receiving little moments of joy through the post regularly helps to break through the monotony of not being able to travel. If retailers can capitalize on this and find a way to have their customers sign-up for a subscription, it can become a stable stream of revenue.
Supply chains: Agility and resiliency
In the old days, e-shoppers’ focus sat squarely on price. But in today’s on-demand economy, where instant gratification means the world to consumers, personalized delivery services such as when and where the product should arrive and whether it can be redirected to a locker if they’re unavailable to pick it up are critical to driving sales.
Companies, therefore, need to build more robust delivery services and resilient supply chains to meet consumer needs. It’s no exaggeration to say that your e-commerce success depends on how strong your supply chains are. Just look at how many times ‘supply chain’ has been mentioned in earnings calls among S&P 500 companies this month – a whopping 3,000 times!
This need is particularly pronounced with COVID-19 restrictions still in place in many countries. For example, a well-known South African footwear brand relied on FedEx during the lockdowns, as they were facing difficulties driving sales via their local retail outlets. By leveraging FedEx transportation solutions and technology expertise, the brand was successfully able to expand to new international markets beyond Africa, and double their global distribution network.
What does that mean for retailers like you? Collaborating with a reliable logistics company that can flex its network to reach your customers in whatever circumstances is critical. You earn an extra bonus point if your consumers save on delivery costs. And that’s exactly where we’ve been investing in – fast and convenient international delivery services at attractive prices.
This holiday season is set to be another epic one for small businesses and e-commerce merchants. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link so make sure that logistics support is your point of strength. Make this a time of festive cheer for your customers and your business.