How To Surf The Digital Economy Successfully

               
By Karen Reddington | First published: February 28, 2019    Updated: July 7, 2020
Getting your product in front of overseas consumers used to be reserved for big companies with big marketing budgets. But with technology democratizing the playing field, even small and medium-sized enterprises in Asia Pacific can now peddle their wares internationally.

Through e-commerce, these SMEs are able to showcase their offerings to customers anywhere. And thanks to social media, they get first-hand, often real-time, feedback of what customers like and want, meaning they can better tailor their product to meet those needs.

Social commerce has become non-negotiable

Of course these days, it’s no longer enough to just have a website. Businesses need to make it easy for customers to shop on their mobile devices and on favorite social networks. They have to integrate e-commerce, mobile commerce and social commerce, working across multiple platforms to stay connected to customers.

It’s little wonder that the majority of APAC SMEs have adopted these new technologies to source goods or find customers outside their home country. Four in five (82%) APAC SMEs are using e-commerce, which continues to be a key driver of exporting behavior.

While e-comm is still the most popular, mobile commerce is fast catching up. Businesses tend to think of m-commerce as e-comm on mobile devices, but it’s so much more. When targeting customers on their mobiles, companies can add features like geo-targeting, branded apps and QR codes, so potential buyers can make a successful, frictionless purchase. These options are also making 1-click repeat purchases easier too.

APAC consumers are mobile-first

In APAC, m-commerce is now used by 72% of SMEs, up from 61% in 2016 [1]. With mobile internet penetration on the rise in the region, this figure is set to increase. The majority of SMEs using e-commerce and m-commerce are optimistic that revenue will continue to grow, with China, Philippines and Vietnam most likely to generate new export revenue from these two channels.[2]

Social commerce meanwhile is now practiced by 74% of APAC SMEs compared with 64% in 2016.[3] By being connected to a product via social, customers can be targeted on social media platforms based on their browser behavior, or make a purchase based on recommendations from friends and family.
Getting your product in front of overseas consumers used to be reserved for big companies with big marketing budgets. But with technology democratizing the playing field, even small and medium-sized enterprises in Asia Pacific can now peddle their wares internationally.

Through e-commerce, these SMEs are able to showcase their offerings to customers anywhere. And thanks to social media, they get first-hand, often real-time, feedback of what customers like and want, meaning they can better tailor their product to meet those needs.

Social commerce has become non-negotiable

Of course these days, it’s no longer enough to just have a website. Businesses need to make it easy for customers to shop on their mobile devices and on favorite social networks. They have to integrate e-commerce, mobile commerce and social commerce, working across multiple platforms to stay connected to customers.

It’s little wonder that the majority of APAC SMEs have adopted these new technologies to source goods or find customers outside their home country. Four in five (82%) APAC SMEs are using e-commerce, which continues to be a key driver of exporting behavior.

While e-comm is still the most popular, mobile commerce is fast catching up. Businesses tend to think of m-commerce as e-comm on mobile devices, but it’s so much more. When targeting customers on their mobiles, companies can add features like geo-targeting, branded apps and QR codes, so potential buyers can make a successful, frictionless purchase. These options are also making 1-click repeat purchases easier too.

APAC consumers are mobile-first

In APAC, m-commerce is now used by 72% of SMEs, up from 61% in 2016 [1]. With mobile internet penetration on the rise in the region, this figure is set to increase. The majority of SMEs using e-commerce and m-commerce are optimistic that revenue will continue to grow, with China, Philippines and Vietnam most likely to generate new export revenue from these two channels.[2]

Social commerce meanwhile is now practiced by 74% of APAC SMEs compared with 64% in 2016.[3] By being connected to a product via social, customers can be targeted on social media platforms based on their browser behavior, or make a purchase based on recommendations from friends and family.
Woman holding card while operating silver laptop

The SMEs are seeing the value of social commerce in a number of areas of their business, including helping them identify new customers (43%) and suppliers (38%), providing customer support (42%) and in tracking deliveries (39%). Philippines is the most advanced in this area and Facebook, in particular, is helping to drive SME exports and imports in the APAC region.[4]

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, small businesses are springing up across the region leading to more choices for the consumer. In this age of short attention spans and social media feeds fed by the latest fads, SMEs have to work and 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 do not want to be figuring out how much the product costs in their currency. Nor do they want to be surprised about additional taxes or duties. Consumers are fickle, easily distracted and easily put off. SMEs need to remove every possible barrier to purchase completion to avoid cart abandonment.

There are tools such as Shopify that 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. It can also display a total landed cost, which leads to price transparency during checkout.

The final step is seamless delivery. When it comes to connecting SMEs with their customers, the right logistics company can be that one-stop shop.
***
About the Author
authors photo

Karen Reddington

Former President,
Asia Pacific, FedEx Express

President of FedEx Express Asia Pacific for 5 years, Karen is now the FedEx Express President of Europe and CEO of TNT. Karen is based in the Netherlands.

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