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How To Surf The Digital Economy Successfully

By Kawal Preet | First published: July 7, 2020    Updated: January 12, 2022

Today’s consumers in APAC are shopping on their mobiles – and on social media. It’s time to optimize your business to match shopping behavior.

There’s been a seismic shift in global trade and online retail in recent years. E-commerce – already on the rise before the pandemic – has gone stratospheric since COVID-19. Businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to small and medium-sized enterprises, have the opportunity to quickly raise their profile and drive sales overseas.

With e-commerce, these SMEs can showcase their brand and product to customers anywhere. And thanks to social media, they get first-hand, often real-time, feedback of what customers like, meaning they can improve their product fast to meet those needs.

Social commerce has become a must for business success

Of course, it’s no longer enough just to have a website. Businesses need to make the experience simple and compelling for customers shopping on mobiles and through social networks. Integrating e-commerce, mobile commerce and social commerce means working across multiple platforms to stay connected to customers.
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In markets like Korea and China, the sector is highly sophisticated, generating huge revenue for sellers and streaming platforms.

By being connected to a product via social platforms, customers can be targeted and retargeted based on browser behavior. It’s as simple as clicking on a platform ad or being forwarded a recommendation to your inbox from someone you know.

For mobile purchases, companies can add features like geo-targeting, in-app notifications, mobile wallets and QR codes, so potential buyers can make successful, frictionless purchase. These options are making one-click repeat purchases easier too.

But social commerce is taking things a step further. The rise of live streaming within social commerce is driving a special kind of one-click purchase - the impulse buy. The real-time, experiential aspect of live shopping, combined with the likelihood of an online personality or KOL fronting the product, is compelling online shoppers to make instant purchases. Factor in flash sales and the ability to contact the shopping host or channel directly to chat about the purchase and brands are onto a huge win. In markets like Korea and China, the sector is highly sophisticated, generating huge revenue for sellers and streaming platforms.

APAC consumers are mobile-first

In APAC, mobile commerce is going up, up and up. According to the latest research by Checkout, consumers in the region are increasingly using their phones to shop, typically via mobile apps. 63% use mobile apps as their primary shopping method. Mobile phone usage can be expected to grows across APAC year-on-year. Take for instance China, which is already at all-time-high of 86%.

Of course, Asia Pacific is a diverse region of varying technological infrastructure, affluence and age of population, GDP and many other factors. That means usage of mobile commerce does fluctuate. The same Checkout research tells us that while mobile shoppers are at 88% in Indonesia, in Japan it’s just 49% at the other end of the spectrum. If you want to sell to all corners of Asia – and the globe – you need to set your platforms and channels up for both mobile and non-mobile commerce for now.
In markets like Korea and China, the sector is highly sophisticated, generating huge revenue for sellers and streaming platforms.

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Navigating challenges

Digitalization has made the world more connected and accessible. The rewards are high and the start-up costs are low. Owning a website is all you need to sell to anyone around the world. But precisely because it’s so easy to set up a business, there’s far more competition. Anyone can copy an original idea and start selling something similar very quickly, undercutting you in the process.

With such low barriers to entry, many small online businesses are springing up across the region, meaning more choice for the consumer. In this age of short attention spans and social media trends, SMEs have to fight harder than ever to attract customer attention.

Given these challenges to convert to purchase decision, it’s crucial that SMEs make the final step – the checkout process – as straightforward as possible. Overseas customers want currency, fees and taxes to be straightforward, and most importantly to have the delivery process fully integrated without a hitch. Consumers, especially when shopping on their mobile or on social media, can be easily distracted, as well as put off by too many steps at the final checkout. SMEs need to remove every possible barrier to purchase completion to avoid cart abandonment.
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Increasingly, e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce provide a safe, seamless, localized experience for customers, automatically displaying the checkout page in their language, accepting their preferred payment methods and showing prices in their local currency.

The final step is seamless delivery to the end customer. The right logistics provider can be your one stop shop when it comes to connecting businesses with their customers efficiently. Got questions or need help with shipping, or setting up the right e-commerce solution for your business? Visit us here.
About the Author
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Kawal Preet

Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, FedEx Express

Kawal started out as a FedEx engineer in Singapore over 20 years ago, and she’s now the President of FedEx Express AMEA. Kawal is based in Hong Kong.

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