PR Awards 2023
#AsiaeCommerceAwards spills: The whitespace that DKSH is eyeing

#AsiaeCommerceAwards spills: The whitespace that DKSH is eyeing

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One of DKSH’s biggest clients is PepsiCo and together with the brand to achieve a strong online presence, the duo embarked on the “Driving growth in e-retail” campaign which wowed the judges at MARKETING INTERACTIVE’s Asia eCommerce Awards 2020. 

The agency won several awards taking home the gold in Best in eCommerce (Marketplace / eRetailer) – Food & Beverage, four silvers in Best in eCommerce (Brands) – Food & Beverage, Best in eCommerce (Marketplace / eRetailer) – Entertainment, Best in eCommerce (Marketplace / eRetailer) – Health & Beauty, Best eCommerce Consultant and four bronze in Best in eCommerce (Brands) – Healthcare & Pharma, Best in eCommerce (Marketplace / eRetailer) – Health & Beauty, Best in eCommerce – Supermarkets / Hypermarkets, Best eCommerce Consultant.

We speak to Martin Frech, chief strategy officer and Head of eCommerce of DKSH on the team's plans for the future.

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.

How has your client expectation evolved?

Frech: To say that 2020 was the year that changed the eCommerce distribution landscape is an understatement: we have seen so much change over the past year that it is easy to lose track of the most pivotal shifts. However, the most important changes have been in consumer behavior, and, as a result, in our clients’ expectations.

Today, more consumers shop for more categories online than ever before – and our clients rightfully expect us to serve every one of them with excellence. Many of our clients, across both Asian and international brands, wonder how they can most effectively reach out to and engage with this new audience and how they can offer more to their existing online shoppers.

This is where DKSH comes in: with extensive offline- and online distribution reach, our objective is always to reach current and future shoppers and consumers, with consistent brand messaging, aligned campaigns, coherent pricing, online and offline, and always with a focus on strong growth.

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

Frech: After the initial surge of demand starting in the first quarter, our clients’ marketing plans began to shift both in terms of content and in precision. We have had to learn some new tricks to engage with consumers directly and impactfully – and do so quickly, for example in the Grocery category. Grocery is one of the most complex online categories, and there are very few solutions that work across the region for both e-retailer- and marketplace models. Brands receive different levels of attention as a part of a grocery basket versus a standalone online store.

Despite these limitations, we achieved great results with PepsiCo brands in Singapore this year with a custom strategy. In addition, we are now also exploring consumers’ demand for chilled, frozen, and temperature-controlled products, such as dairy, chocolate or candies, in selected markets.

But even in non-food categories, our clients and partners are enjoying record eCommerce results, while we work together to keep the pace with ever-changing consumer demand.

More attention than ever is now given to online channels, and that change is here to stay. We have expanded our marketing service suite and are now able to drive traffic not only from the key platforms such as Google, Facebook or Instagram, but also affiliates like ShopBack, and we’re also increasingly engaging with KOLs. Besides, we see increased interest in new solutions such as Facebook Stores, Line shops and other social commerce channels, where we can provide the benefit of additional sales and gain access to unique consumer shopping behavior data.

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?

Frech: As digital adoption continues to surge across the region, we anticipate continuing extension of reach into the population. Because of the pandemic, many consumers who usually only shop in brick-and-mortar stores experienced eCommerce sales for the first time. If we collectively did our jobs well, they had a good experience: simple interactions, a smooth interface, fast and reliable delivery and competitive pricing.

Even as retailers open up again, we anticipate many of these new-to-eCommerce shoppers will remain. Naturally, they deserve excellent services and special attention.

Another interesting development has been the strong growth of direct-to-consumer channels. For some segments, especially those with high repurchase rates and high brand involvement, we expect this trend to accelerate post pandemic. However, for most lower-involvement brand purchases, the jury is still out. Either way, it pays to learn and adapt and to keep options open.

Finally, there has been an interesting uptick in cross-border eCommerce due to the severe travel limitations during the pandemic. While this is still a relatively new sales channel in Southeast Asia, it is a well-established business model into China and one that we are well-versed in. We anticipate many more brands seeking additional sales from consumers abroad. To serve this need, DKSH is piloting a custom cross-border solution, which we are now rolling out to selected brand partners across Asia.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Frech: We see outstanding results when we partner across multiple dimensions with our clients. A great example is OLLY Vitamins in Singapore, a case that received two eCommerce Awards this year. Vitamins is an extremely competitive category, especially in Singapore where consumers have a very wide selection of imported products and can also buy directly tax-free from the US or Europe online.

In less than six months, a brand that did not exist in the market became a top choice on Lazada, and eCommerce is now driving large share of OLLY total sales. Unilever’s OLLY team created bright, fun, easy to share videos and ads, while DKSH used its performance marketing skills to optimize for conversion and make sure every banner and every ad brought consumers to the store and encouraged purchases.

The DKSH team also worked to give the new brand attention and visibility from Lazada and develop a solid launch plan, supported by our existing strong relationship with the platform. Through this broad and deep partnership, we enabled a launch that exceeded all our expectations.

How are you planning for 2021?

Frech: DKSH eCommerce sales have seen tremendous growth in the past three years, and we are proud to help more and more clients enter and grow in markets across Asia. Our plan for 2021 is to again deliver on our promise to capture increased eCommerce growth for our brand partners in our well-established categories.

Beyond that, we also still see significant white space in healthcare, and while some of these areas are very regulated, we believe there will be new ways and models to work with hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers to make healthcare more accessible to ever-larger parts of the population.

Together with our brand partners, we are in a great position to drive innovation and to bring even more brands to even more consumers. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that predictions for business- and market developments are increasingly difficult in these times – but what we do know is that the market will continue to challenge us, while also offering unprecedented opportunities for those who are willing to give it their best shot.

I am proud to say that is something I see our teams at DKSH do – every day, in all our markets, for all our brand partners.

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