8 December 2014

Asian businesses need more e-commerce smarts: Genesys

Source: Genesys.
Asia Pacific overtook Europe as the largest consumer for online shopping for the first time this year, says Genesys, and the only way forward is up. 

"Driven by the potential of the Chinese market, increasing Internet access and the growing adoption of smartphones and tablet computers, Asia is experiencing an e-commerce explosion. By end of 2014, business to consumer e-commerce sales will hit US$525 billion in Asia, that’s half of the world’s online sales," noted Erwann Thomassain, Head of Marketing, Asia Pacific, Genesys, which provides businesses with a customer experience platform that enables them to leverage customer information and data from their contact centre interactions.

Thomassain also pointed to the e-commerce potential of much of Southeast Asia countries. "With the fastest growing Internet population in the world, with recent statistics estimating 530% growth over the past five years, alongside favourable age demographics, Philippines is well-placed to reap benefits of online retail. Indonesia is not far behind with an estimated 430% Internet growth," he said.

Thomassain noted that today's consumers are 'always on' and able to consume, purchase, share content from their mobile devices wherever they are. "It’s up to businesses to push the content they want directly to them," he said. "In South Korea, 49% of consumers use their smartphones to research online purchases. As consumers seek faster and more convenient ways to shop, we can expect e-commerce to continue to rise as new trends and technologies emerge, vying for the attention of today’s 'always-on' consumer."

This year's 'Singles Day' online shopping festival, driven by Alibaba, shows how consumers have embraced mobile and online shopping. The November 11 sale saw a record number of 278 million orders placed during the 24 hours with 42.6% of the gross merchandise volume generated on mobile devices, Thomassain said, quoting Forbes data. "Being aware of the limitations of a mobile screen and so not to affect the customer experience, merchandise recommendations were precisely customised to allow for a more efficient and effective cross- and up-sell process. This is customer experience at its best," he commented.

It follows that businesses will need to customise their outreach for the online and mobile spaces if they are to be successful in the long term, Thomassain said. 

"It is no longer the brick-and-mortar store days where it’s all about attracting customers into the shops. Control is now with the customer, demanding companies to be where they are, be it on social media or user generated content sites, and they want an individually tailored customer experience," he said. "More and more businesses are expanding their presence into the online space and existing businesses are continuously modifying the online experience to stay ahead of the curve."

Thomassain shared two shopping trends that show how e-commerce and physical retail are converging. One challenge for physical retailers is 'showrooming', the practice of browsing merchandise in physical stores but buying it online at better prices. "We can only expect this trend to take hold as e-commerce adoption continues," he noted.

At the same time there is an emerging, competing trend for 'reverse showrooming', where research for products is conducted online and the purchase is completed in a physical store. "According to the Google Marketing Shopping Council, 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones to assist their store shopping experience," Thomassain said. 

Thomassain advised retailers to embrace the latest customer behaviour to grow, for example by offering incentives that entice online traffic into physical stores.