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