#AsiaeCommerceAwards spills: How partnerships helped Lazada switch up its online shopping game

Livestreaming is no doubt one of Lazada's strengths, having entertained consumers with its shoppertainment strategy over the last few years. It recently tied up with SGAG and dating firm Lunch Actually to tap onto its shoppertainment prowess, creating Weekly Bazaar LazLive sessions for SGAG and unveiling a Match me if you can Valentine's Day campaign for Lunch Actually.

Its efforts in the eCommerce space did not go unnoticed, for the brand clinched gold for Best eCommerce Marketplace/eRetailer and silver for Best Integrated eCommerce Campaign at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Asia eCommerce Awards 2020. James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore, share how how strategic partnerships with like-minded organisations can help boost one's eCommerce strategy, and how the company is planning for 2021.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for Asia eCommerce Awards 2020. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

Chang: Consumers’ expectations of eCommerce are at an all-time high. COVID-19 has accelerated changes in shopping behaviours and the eCommerce industry is continuously pioneering innovations that set a higher bar for the shopping experiences that consumers expect. 

As they lead increasingly digital lives, consumers now expect faster service, greater convenience and access to wider assortments. We are also seeing more consumers adopt an environmentally conscious mindset, creating demand for brands to act with more social responsibility.

For our groceries arm RedMart, we have an automated logistics hub that raises our productivity, reduces turnaround time for deliveries and allows us to serve more customers. We have also taken small steps towards minimising our environmental impact with our packaging, and look to expand it in the future.

To meet expectations for richer and more engaging shopping experiences, we will continue to invest in our shoppertainment strategy and technology to add an element of fun to consumers’ shopping experiences.

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Chang: Due to COVID-19, there was a big shift in the way consumers shopped online. Our focus was to encourage shoppers to support our local sellers in sustaining their businesses, and keep the economy moving.

In Singapore, we brought the quarterly IT Show online when the exhibition was cancelled due to Circuit Breaker measures. This provided and avenue for the IT and electronics brands and sellers to flush outstocks that were originally meant for the event, and its success paved the way for our other campaigns held this year to support these businesses. We also supported retail malls via an omni-channel approach where store digital vouchers were sold online to drive footfall back to these malls.

Lazada also ventured into a first-of-its kind collaboration with Mediacorp, Singapore’s largest content creator and national media network, to introduce a new content-commerce partnership that led to record-breaking sales across the 8.8, 9,9, 11.11 and 12.12 campaigns. 

This year has been truly unprecedented where we had to think on our feet and adapt to the changing landscape. However, our mission to empower businesses for eCommerce success remains true and helped shape our marketing efforts.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Chang: Consumers of all ages now appreciate the convenience of online shopping. It is a trend that is not going to go away, even as economies resume.

Consumers expect more than a transactional experience even when shopping online, wanting to engage with brands to learn, be entertained, or feel part of the community. We have observed evidence of this trend with the online migration of brands – big and small – to our platform and expect that more brands (Under Armour, Coach, and Harley-Davidson), retailers (Marks & Spencers, Popular, Miniso, and Mothercare) and even shopping malls (Marina Square) will continue to migrate online.

As consumers begin to expect more from their online shopping experiences, livestreaming will continue to be a game changer for Southeast Asian businesses and is the next frontier of online shopping, especially in a post-pandemic world. It will provide businesses with the opportunity to introduce new products, demonstrate their functions, encourage brand trial to conversion, educate on trending topics for awareness and to answer any questions consumers may have in real time as well as create new jobs. Consumers, on the other hand, will get an experience like shopping in physical stores, with the authenticity and intimacy of live communication.

To continue empowering more brands and sellers to stay connected to consumers, we will provide them with exposure to our key shopping festivals and campaigns as well as comprehensive online learning opportunities through Lazada University. In some of our markets, we also developed the Grassroot Livestreamers Incubation Programme to provide training to young talents to facilitate their careers as professional livestreamers and content creators, thereby creating a new job category within the eCommerce ecosystem.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Chang: It is key to never underestimate the power of customer insights and leverage these to personalise marketing campaigns to shoppers. Great and effective marketing integrates customer insights and takes a holistic approach to address ever-changing consumers’ needs and expectations. Strategic partnerships with like-minded organisations and brands can also help to enhance the online shopping experience for consumers.

A good example would be our five-year partnership with L’Oreal, an early adopter of digital transformation. They ran their Bring Beauty Back campaign – a three-day beauty online marathon event – which ran across the region and on our platform, and included livestreaming, games, beauty augmented reality and surprise flash sales on the best-selling products to celebrate beauty and encourage women to feel more confident and empowered as they returned to work and embrace social interactions.

Another would be our first-of-its-kind collaboration in the region with Mediacorp. Our partnership comprised innovative and interactive activities and games to bring an immersive experience to audiences and shoppers at home during our 8.8 shopping festival, as well as allowed local brands and sellers access to new marketing channels. 

How are you planning for 2021?

Chang: We remain very optimistic about the future of eCommerce for Southeast Asia next year. The region has a huge population of consumers who are young and digitally savvy, and we are cautiously hopeful that the economy will bounce back from the pandemic. We will continue to empower as many businesses as possible, and equip them with the digital skills necessary for eCommerce success. We will also finetune our shoppertainment strategy, and look forward to taking it to new heights just like how the Mediacorp partnership was a game-changer in Singapore.

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#AsiaeCommerceAwards highlight: How Lazada embedded itself within the local business community