What it takes to be successful in the age of 'connected commerce'

2020 was undoubtedly the year of e-commerce. The past 12 to 14 months saw consumers quickly shifting their shopping habits from the physical to online space, causing e-commerce’s share of total retail sales to soar to over 50% in Asia. The e-commerce industry is expected to continue this rapid growth trajectory and ultimately become the dominant retail channel by 2025.

In response to changing consumers needs and behaviours, many brands rushed to launch their e-commerce stores as well as other digital capabilities and saw success in doing so. But as businesses seek future growth, they must learn to harness the complexity of the e-commerce ecosystem in its entirety.

For one, this means not simply replicating the physical store experience online. Physical touch and interaction with products in stores are very different than engaging with those same products and content online. It also means having oversight of all the places where consumers interact. From brand-owned online stores, to marketplaces, to social commerce, factoring in how consumers engage and what they expect across these different online shopping environments will help brands to create more connections and overall, better experiences. This is the key to sustaining growth in this new frontier of commerce.

Putting the customer first

While we’ve long emphasised customer-focused experiences, we’ve moved into a new time where brands can no longer be the focal point, pushing or pulling customers to brand-owned properties. Instead, brands must carefully look at how the customer wants to engage with them in each environment – understanding key needs, emotions, and when and where they buy – in order to determine the best ways to communicate with them and ultimately drive interest in their products.

forwardpmx aritleTake marketplaces, for example – an e-commerce environment that’s become a critical part of the conversation in Asia, as platforms like Lazada, Shopee and Tokopedia have significantly changed the way consumers shop online. These platforms were designed to help users discover new brands and maximise conversions, and so in this instance, launching an exclusive offer in this channel that’s not available anywhere else will give the marketplace customer an inherently better experience with your brand.

Commerce gets more connected

All of this, of course, impacts how marketers build their e-commerce and media plans today. As we mentioned, we believe the most successful e-commerce experiences are those that are designed around the customer – we call this a “connected commerce” experience.

Connected commerce not only requires providing relevant experiences wherever consumers shop online; it takes an organisational shift in mindset to adopt a truly customer-first approach. Particularly as we move into a time where customers expect a better exchange of value and they show an increasing awareness of how brands are utilising their data; better experiences mean stronger engagement. And stronger engagement will help brands gain key learnings about their customers over time.

New commerce ecosystems demand new kinds of talent

Creating the connected commerce experience requires the constant collaboration of numerous stakeholders, each with its own challenges and goals. However, channel owners often operate independently from one another, unable to manifest the full consumer journey.

As the industry continues to trend in this direction, we, at ForwardPMX, have invested heavily in training our digital experts to look at E-commerce holistically within the larger context of our clients’ businesses. With a strong foundation in delivering multi-market, multichannel digital solutions, our team adopts an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to design full-funnel strategies that unify the brand experience across all channels.

This article is contributed by Edison Woo, regional vice president of organisational development at ForwardPMX APAC & RU