Tech is changing retail greatly and corporates need to understand recent developments in order to ensure the viability of their business. Asia especially is at the front of adopting and rejecting such new technologies.
We’ve noted 3 trends that are key in adapting retail businesses.
Trend #1: Customer-Centric Engagement
Getting the attention of your customers remains ever important amidst the noise from social media, tv ads and more.
The solution? Emphasize on connecting with the customer to build brand awareness and brand presence.
- Native and Non-intrusive advertising
We recently attended the launch of Ksubaka, a digital media platform that gamifies the customer’s brand experience. Using Touch Screen Playspots in high traffic retail locations, shoppers consciously decide to engage with a brand campaign instead of having ads forced upon them. Ksubaka’s bespoke game experiences also place focus on the brand, creating interactions between the brand and customer that enhances the brand story. Such gamification techniques have established call-to-actions (CTAs) that are 10x other digital media and have achieved completion rates of over 80% in addition to double-digit mobile conversions. Which is impressive considering the rising popularity of ad-blockers on browsers and mobile (it’s risen over 800% since 2009 to over 190 million worldwide!)
Ksubaka’s Playspots thus serve as the first point where shoppers are offered to extend the experience to mobile, where they can redeem rewards, collect loyalty points or link to the brand social networks. Fairprice had a campaign that accompanied the launch of their online store where customers who successfully completed the game could receive an SMS that gave a discount when they downloaded the app from the link included. It helped to push app downloads to over 30,000 in just a month!
- Contextual Shopping
Ksubaka also offers comprehensive data to brands with their intuitively-designed shopper surveys. With Ksubaka’s Touch Screen Playspots placed in close proximity to the products featured, the brand is at the top of the customer’s mind when a purchase is being made. The availability of such actionable insights will then guide brands and retailers into making decisions which develop a closer relationship with the customer for continued engagement.
Trend #2: Offline to Online Integration for Retail Stores
Although more and more customers go online to buy, opportunities abound for brands and retailers that can deliver a comprehensive experience that is with the customer every step of the way. Hence the rise of omnichannel operations as brick-and-mortar retailers go online.
Recognising the growing importance of selling online, China’s Leyou – one of the largest omnichannel retailer of baby products – self-developed an app to provide product information and build a community for mothers. With user reviews for products being accessible in-store via a scanning feature in Leyou’s app, community interaction whilst shopping has developed better connections between brands and customers as well as encouraged repeat returns.
Given some bad experiences with counterfeits in China with online ecommerce in the past, mothers in China are safety-conscious and choose to purchase baby products from specialty retailers rather than online. Leyou offers a sense of security on their platform as mothers can also see the traceability of the product to purchase in confidence. The combination of omnichannel marketing in Leyou’s stores, mobile app and online presence has allowed the company to establish a strong and consistent emotional link with mothers, providing them the peace of mind that they’re giving their children the best.
Having previously demonstrated resistance to the ecommerce revolution in India, Kishore Biyani, Chairman of Future Group – one of India’s largest retailers – started building the company’s online presence in the face of startup competition with the acquisition of online furniture retailer FabFurnish.com for around US$2 million.
It marked the relaunch of the company’s “omnichannel drive” that is aimed at expanding store capacity and capability. Most significantly, Biyani is also going to launch a wallet – called FuturePay – which the company is developing in association with Oxigen. FuturePay aims to change retail by combining a price comparison mechanism, loyalty scheme and promotion management. Customers can then easily manage their purchase, coupons and in-store promotions on one easy platform.
Trend #3: Machine Intelligence on Ecommerce Sites
With the boom in ecommerce in Asia, startups and companies alike have had to work harder to get customers to make a purchase.
Asia is now driving innovation in visual search and recommendation – the use of algorithms to identify a product’s physical characteristics and suggest similar products – changing the ecommerce scene!
It has taken off especially in India where ecommerce sites such as Flipkart and Voonik offer the function to enhance the customer’s experience. Using data, such as a customer’s past purchases as well as the present selection, machine intelligence makes smart recommendations that compel the customer to make a purchase. For example, even if a product is out of stock, by showcasing visually similar alternatives, customers can still be convinced to make a purchase.
On the retailer’s side, the collection of such data helps to make data-driven decisions. Analysis drawn from the data enhances the usual sale reports by highlighting popular colours, patterns and style. This can inform product development to deliver products that customers will love which boosts their loyalty to brands.