E-commerce isn't nearly enough, you need to think d-commerce

The consumer path to purchase is evolving at warp speed, sounding the death knell for traditional e-commerce in its wake.

In a world where technological developments continue to shake up the marketplace, simply featuring products on an online platform and spending money on marketing won’t cut it any more. Instead, as the sector becomes ever more complicated and demanding, marketers must factor in a host of new platforms if they are to get ahead in the digital commerce (d-commerce) game.These include:

- Voice commerce: The next wave of consumer experiences is set to be voice-first, with mobile and voice-enabled speakers already piquing the interest of consumers and brands.

As more accurate voice search and voice recognition tools boost consumers’ comfort levels with chatbots and voice-controlled virtual assistants (think Alibaba’s Tmall Genie), a more widespread adoption of conversation-based digital commerce in the region seems inevitable.

-Mobile video commerce: Marketers need to put even more emphasis on understanding how next-generation consumers are interacting with brands via their mobile devices. Take Matches Fashion, for example, which offers so-called “digital trunk shows” showcasing collections and revealing the inspiration behind each piece. Clicking on an item via the video screen automatically adds it to users’ shopping baskets, without them having to leave the video or pause it.

The Asia Pacific region currently accounts for almost half of all worldwide video consumption on mobile devices, according to a recent report. I believe this will be a major contributor to the rise of mobile video digital commerce in the region, disrupting desktop video commerce.

-Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) commerce: The increasing maturity of the C2C sector in the Asia-Pacific region will be another growth driver for online retail. Led by players such Taobao China, Flipkart, Shopee, and Carousell, the C2C sector shows little sign of slowing down. One recent report suggests C2C already accounts for at least a third of the digital commerce market in the region.

Developing effective digital strategies

We recently worked with a leading food company to develop and implement a strategy focusing on digital commerce as a service. The plan included identifying key platforms for the business to partner with, then assessing what data they had so they could adjust advertising budgets and renegotiate trade terms in key marketplaces.

Most importantly, the plan put a dedicated managed services model with a strategic partner to take care of content optimisation and campaign management, and provide the analytics to ensure products, services and campaigns are effectively driven by real-time insights.

For online retailers like these who are getting a head start, there’s enormous potential in the digital commerce space. But if this is so, why are so many brands in the Asia Pacific region missing this opportunity? Worse, why are many companies sacrificing sales by refusing to keep up with changing consumer habits?

Brands can no longer survive without being present on consumers’ preferred channels—social, mobile, and digital. And yet across the region, many marketers are still allocating the lion’s share of their budget to traditional media platforms (including TV), rather than digital ones.

Even where marketers are making use of digital platforms, many lack visibility on the proportion of their ad spend that makes it to the consumer. Without access to consistent metrics and measurement from agencies, they’re starting to question the value such third parties actually bring to the different stages of an increasingly complicated marketing process.

Such challenges undermine brands’ ability to seize opportunities and offer consumers relevant and personalised online shopping experiences. It’s an issue because the stakes are being raised all the time.

Mondelēz International’s Oreo cookie promotion in China last year is a case in point. Featuring a personalised music box that played a tune when an Oreo cookie was placed inside it, the campaign was wildly successful, gaining 200 million impressions on Alibaba’s Tmall within the first eight hours of being launched.

Pulling the right levers for growth

Consumers will not wait around if retailers don’t provide a seamless service. To lead in this data-driven, technology-focused marketplace, retailers need to make sure they are equipped with the right tools to stay ahead of the game.

Savvy brands are refreshing their digital commerce strategies and harnessing advanced digital commerce platforms to deliver the integrated, omni‑channel experiences consumers seek. Such platforms are allowing them to:

  • Accurately identify gaps in their digital capabilities and develop a transformation plan.
  •  Improve consumer experiences and interactions by collecting behavioural and aspirational insights.
  •  Build scalable digital platforms and deliver fully integrated omni-channel experiences based on consumer insights.
  • Deliver hyper-personalised products, services, and touchpoints by using predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence solutions.

The writer is Mohammed Sirajuddeen, managing director, Digital Commerce Lead, Asia Pacific, Africa, Middle East and Turkey, Accenture.