As economic restrictions ease up to manage recovery post-lockdown, more consumers are now going back to shopping in-store. This notable shift in economic activities is now challenging eCommerce businesses to adapt and scale more than ever before.
In this year’s first installment of IMMAP Web Wednesdays, a free webinar on latest digital trends and best practices, the discussion focused on how businesses can scale successfully for eCommerce growth in the aftermath of the pandemic. Onboard to offer fresh insights and perspectives were industry experts Laurice Obana, Shopper Insights Director of Kantar Philippines, and Alexander Friedhoff, CEO and Co-founder of Etaily.
While most businesses continue to rely on eCommerce spurred by the trending digital pivot in 2020, shoppers nowadays are seen to be moving back to traditional channels.
Interestingly, Obana cited how understanding FMCG hybrid shoppers can offer more context to shopping trends and shifts as observed in recent years. “Understanding hybrid consumers can help spot the next opportunity for your business,” she said.
In Kantar’s latest data, Obana shared how FMCG remains resilient and that 2021 growth is back to its pre-pandemic pattern but still with a slight slowdown in online shopping as in many countries including the Philippines. There have been growth opportunities though particularly for food and lunch categories due to the work-from-home set-up. However, in areas where restrictions have been eased, buyer groups have moved away from shopping online while late adapters or older demographics are seen to be buying less online.
Obana explained, “eCommerce remains the most dynamic channel in the world, outpacing other channels but it’s not aggressively growing anymore in 2021 vs 2020.” Logistical barriers may be affecting consumer preferences and some of the factors include delivery time, delivery fee, and poor interface among others.
Big shifts in the channels where Filipinos shop are also happening. It’s interesting to note that more consumers are pivoting to sari-sari stores vs. hypermarkets and supermarkets mainly because of the rising cost of commodities. This has resulted in an overall reduced shopping spend, with the smaller goods assortment offered by sari-sari stores
While traditional channels remain important, eCommerce opportunities will continue to rise. Obana points out four things to watch out for, namely: The rise of aggregators, community group buying, quick commerce, and live streaming. She cites how these models have been driving eCommerce growth in China, and that the Philippines will also see the same trajectory.
“Embrace agility and be ready to respond to market changes and dynamics,” Obana advised.
True enough, Friedhoff echoed that agility is key for eCommerce to remain strong. “Brands must continue to meet rising consumer demands.” He said that eCommerce has always been steadily growing since 2000 and the pandemic was an accelerator.
As a company designed to fuel eCommerce growth, Etaily speaks from a customer experience point of view. “We create customer experiences from online to offline to serve as your brand’s differentiation,” shared Friedhoff.
He believed that eCommerce allows business to to have a wide selection of products with competitive pricing, and have a better purchasing experience. However, Friedhoff stressed that traditional offline retail is as important. “We need both to finally meet the needs of the final end consumer.”
According to Friedhoff, it’s very critical to note that customers will always have the highest expectations from a product and service. Thus, having eCommerce fundamentals in place is key to successfully grow and scale eCommerce operations. Four competencies that businesses need to sharpen are Data Analytics, eCommerce, Core Technology, and Supporting Capabilities. “Once you have the basics, you are ready for growth.”
Another good point to dive in is understanding the environment where consumers are because millions of consumers are navigating a multitude of platforms every single day. “Be everywhere, be omnipresent,” enthused Friedhoff. “Penetrate and dominate where the end consumer is.”
IMMAP Web Wednesdays is a virtual monthly learning session featuring industry experts and leaders discussing a variety of digital topics. Spearheaded by the IMMAP education committee and co-presented by ABS-CBN and the Certified Digital Marketer (CDM), the series aims to spread awareness on the latest digital data, trends, and best practices that can be adapted to different kinds of businesses. This year’s Web Wednesdays is also brought to you by media partners BusinessWorld, Rappler, and One Mega Group.
IMMAP’s Web Wednesdays series is free and open to everyone. For more information about IMMAP, visit https://www.immap.com.ph/.