APAC retail industry set for digitalization with digital smartness influencing majority shoppers’ product choices, says GlobalData

Retailers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are investing in enhancing their digital presence with as much as 72%* of consumers revealing that ‘digital smartness’ influences their product choices, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s survey* conducted in February 2021 reveals that as the world continues to battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, 73% of consumers are looking for convenience and 67% are giving preference to time-saving aspect while shopping.

Ankita Roy, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The challenge for retailers now is not just to shift their businesses to online mode but regularly upgrade their operations and simplify their user-interface to meet shoppers’ demand for convenience and time-saving aspect. Retailers must explore ways to become digitally smart while ensuring safe delivery and legitimate payment modes.”

In line with this, Rakuten and Seiyu trailed delivery robots to deliver groceries from the supermarkets in Japan. Successful implementation of such services will automate the delivery processes, reduce fulfilment times, and cater to shoppers who purchased groceries online in the last three months in Japan (58% of respondents).

Despite the popularity of online channels, local convenience stores are still popular among the Asian consumers. The sense of localism along with trust has led the shoppers to visit local stores for stocking up daily essentials.

However, with social distancing norms, several store-based retailers tried to integrate the online and offline experience. For instance, Japanese convenience store FamilyMart, in collaboration with foodpanda and GrabFood, expanded on-demand grocery service in Malaysia, where customers can order through the app and pick up their products from points or get it home-delivered.

Ms Roy continues: “To cater to the consumers who are visiting stores, retailers are investing in emerging technologies and exploring channels such as cashier-less technology and virtual queuing systems to overcome safety challenges and instil confidence. Retailers are also investing in direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings as shoppers prefer to buy from trusted brands while shopping online.”

DTC channel helps the brands to directly connect with their shoppers and reduces the price of the product, attracting 48% of shoppers who feel lower prices as an advantage of online shopping.

Digital engagement will be crucial to attract shoppers even after the pandemic. Responding to this trend, brands such as Calvin Klein are adopting a unique approach.  To introduce its newest fragrance product CK EVERYONE in China, Calvin Klein created a five-day virtual pop-up store on Tmall and an interactive 3D exhibition.

Ms Roy concludes: “Brands must connect with shoppers through live streaming and social media platforms to engage with them, garner more followers and promote new content. These strategies will be crucial to remain relevant in the regional market as the online retail sales in the APAC region are expected to grow by 103.5% from US$768.1bn in 2020 to US$1,563bn in 2025.”

*Data taken from GlobalData’s survey of 6,000 APAC consumers, aged 16+ conducted in early February 2021.

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