Opinion: eCommerce is a core business area all stakeholders need to commit to

ECommerce in Malaysia has been on a rampant increase in recent years. According to the report titled “e-Conomy SEA 2019 report” done by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, eCommerce in Malaysia has tripled in size since 2015, and it is forecasted to become a US$11 billion market by 2025. Moreover, now with most consumers still opting to stay at home due to the global pandemic, most businesses are looking to enter the eCommerce space, if they have not already in it. Despite this move into the eCommerce space being seemingly the next natural step for businesses that are unable to operate at full capacity offline, there are still some key factors brands should consider before jumping in, according to Anil Gautammanaging director of DHL eCommerce Malaysia.

The first factor is to make sure that sufficient research has been done on the market that businesses are looking at venturing into, he said, adding that businesses have to truly understand their target audience to be able to use the eCommerce platform to its full potentialSecondly, it is important to have focus and rigor from the leadership of the business to ensure eCommerce is treated as part of the core business and that all stakeholders are committed to enabling it. Following this, Gautam added that brands should be meticulous in choosing the right platforms to effectively reach their target market and focus on conversion mechanisms. They should have a strong backend operations process and a reliable team to manage the supply chain. Last but not least, businesses need to have a logistics partner with a reliable service level, full tracking visibility and strong customer support.

Gautam also emphasised on the need to have logistics reliability to ensure that a customer’s loyalty to a brand is not compromised by the delivery experience. Convenience, availability of relevant inventory, ease of order and timely fulfillment can ensure ROI on acquiring and maintaining customers. 

From a logistics points of view, the high time taken to dispatch orders or having a longer lead time than promised can lead to increased returns/refunds and also a fall in repeat buying,” he said, adding thatthe quality of packaging is also key. A better quality of packaging would ensure the shipment withstands its journey to reach the customer in a desirable condition. For DHL, ensuring the quality delivery of its services also lies in having engaged and motivated teams, which is something the brand is continually investing in, Gautam said.

Brands should also use big data to gain insights on customer behavior and tailor their offerings to convert first-time users, enable repeat purchases, and retain customers through the consistent delivery of promise. 

The fundamentals of measuring online success are not different from the offline world, but with data analytics, businesses can be sharper and more personalised in engaging with their customers,” Gautam said. However, he pointed out that one of the key challenges with having access to more data is in making sense of all that data. Every marketer has to always be looking to innovate and find better ways to make use of data because there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

How DHL innovated  

The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged eCommerce penetration to leapfrog by a couple of years, and caused the rapid digitalisation of offline businesses, according to Gautam. With this increase demand in eCommerce across the country, DHL sought to ramp up its services to ensure smooth deliveries for businesses by investing in its digital strategies.  

According to Gautam, one way the company is currently doing so is by looking into direct shipment creation plug-ins from online platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento, which will bring more ease to businesses to ship their products. It has also integrated with online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon to support their sellers with its delivery services.  

DHL is also focusing on adopting catchment marketing through hyper-local and neighborhood-targeting mediums to reach out to micro, small, and medium enterprises and consumer-to-consumer sellers. By doing so, it hopes to communicate to sellers the ease of shipping through DHL, since it is located right in their neighbourhood.

Another key area of digitalisation is its usage of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation to handle repetitive tasks across its support functions. These digital tools have helped the company become more efficient, while at the same time reducing the chance for errors, Gautam told A+M.

However, in its increased focus on digital strategies, DHL also sees the importance of retaining that element of human touch. “Across all our digital processes, we make sure that the human touch is there, and that a DHL expert is always easily accessible so that our customers’ needs are taken care of,” Gautam said. An example of how DHL does this is by minimising automated voice responses for its customer service hotline. It also ensures that a human voice can be reached within 10 seconds on a regular business day. 

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