Philippine Retailing 2019 Philippine Retailing 2019 Q4_Digital - Page 14

FEATURE PHILIPPINE RETAILING Three reasons why retailers in Asia are upgrading their ecommerce platforms By: Philip Wiggenraad, Tofugear There are currently almost an endless array of technologies and innovations that retailers can invest in as they look to future-proof their business and meet the expectations of the next generation of customers. But when Tofugear surveyed retail executives across Asia as part of its 2019 Asia Digital Transformation Report, it was striking to see that the biggest technology investment priority for retailers was actually ecommerce platforms. dramatically in recent years and shoppers need ecommerce sites to offer functionality such as being able to check stock in specific stores or arranging click-and-collect in any location they prefer. At the same time, retailers are also looking to use their stores as local fulfilment hubs for online orders. To do so, retailers need to have a single view of inventory and use a distributed order management system. As part of this investment, retailers are making the necessary upgrades to their websites to accommodate such an omnichannel approach. One in two respondents (53%) indicated that they will invest in their ecommerce platform over the next 12 months, while a further 20% stated that they would do so over the next two to four years. Contrast that to last year’s edition of the survey, when just a quarter of respondents said that they intended to invest in their ecommerce platform over the next year. In 2018, business intelligence and data analytics was the most pressing investment area. In today’s omnichannel age, it may seem odd for retailers to still invest so heavily in their ecommerce platforms. After all, many retail businesses have already had their ecommerce platforms in place for some time now. However, here are three reasons why ecommerce is being placed at the top of retailers’ ‘to do list’: Taking account of emerging technologies Competition from ecommerce giants Tofugear’s digital transformation survey included responses from retailers based in countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia, where marketplaces such as Lazada and Shopee are dominating the online retail scene. With these marketplaces offering sophisticated personalisation and often a wide range of fulfilment services, local retailers have had to invest in their own ecommerce storefronts as they mount a fightback. The omnichannel challenge When retailers were asked what they thought was the single biggest challenge they are currently facing, one in five mentioned the ability to achieve omnichannel retail. Consumer expectations have increased There was a surge in investment in ecommerce platforms just over five years ago – when many retailers transitioned to mobile optimised sites – but technology and consumer demands have continued to evolve since then. An increasing number of retailers are now turning to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence to upgrade the customer experience on their ecommerce platforms. For instance, visual search technology is a seamless way for customers to get the appropriate search results based on images of a product they are looking for. AI-driven chatbots and the ability to offer voice assisted ordering through smart speakers such as Google Home are also being considered by retailers. Asia digital transformation report For Tofugear’s 2018 Asia Digital Transformation Report, 150 retail executives across Asia were surveyed on their approaches to innovation and investment priorities for 2020 and beyond. The respondents included over 20 retailers based in the Philippines. The full report can be downloaded for free through the QR code. About the Author As Head of Research at retail innovation company Tofugear, Philip provides insight on how retailers are adapting their digital strategies to target the connected consumer. Prior to relocating to Hong Kong, he led Retail Week’s research team in London, analysing the tech and ecommerce strategies of the UK’s leading retailers. 12