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The ecommerce world today is all about data. It’s not a nice-to-have but rather a must-have. Why? Because the richer the data, the better the decision brands make.

Collecting data is easy when brands have their own ecommerce website or what we call 1st party data. Some channel partners do share their data to a certain extent, that’s called 2nd party data. The 3rd party data, which is a set of data collected from sources by a company that isn’t directly involved in the transaction, will help brands drive successful action and increase their ecommerce sales.

Types of data in today’s ecommerce world; BrandIQ

Brands in Southeast Asia are accustomed to ‘surveyed data’, but have a limited amount of data from online marketplaces, so much so that it is insufficient for them to craft a successful online marketplace strategy.

BrandIQ is envisioned to provide brands in Southeast Asia with measurable data and actionable insights for their online commerce strategy. Using sophisticated ecommerce data collection and proprietary machine learning technologies, BrandIQ will empower brands to monitor online merchandise, analyze competitors, offer better promotions, understand consumer sentiments, and improve the overall ecommerce experience.

When 4Ps is not enough. BrandIQ Analytics will be able to provide brands the data and insights across 9Ps; BrandIQ

At Okura Prestige Bangkok, three brands – Beiersdorf, Kimberly Clark, and L’Oreal, were brought together by BrandIQ to discuss and share their experience about the growing influence of data usage and user-generated reviews.

From left: aCommerce’s Group Director of Product, Poonpat Wattanavinit as the moderator, and panelists: Praponsak Kumpolpun, Senior Ecommerce Manager, L’Oreal CPD Thailand, Aviroot Prasitnarit, Sales Director – Kimberly Clark Thailand, and Phunnapa, Limtansakul, Senior Ecommerce Manager SEA – Beiersdorf Thailand

This is what was discussed:

Keep your Friends Close, Your Enemy Closer

By having an understanding of your competitor’s movement, brands can gain a significant advantage to help guide its own pricing and marketing strategy.

Tracking your competitor can be easily done offline, especially the price. Brands can simply send an intern to take note of the price. In the country’s FMCG industry, prices change every two weeks. Online channels? Every minute.

“Unlike offline, monitoring our competitors’ online movement is extremely challenging. Promotions are constantly changing and without a proper tool, it is impossible for a human to keep up,” says Aviroot Prasitnarit, Sales, Kimberly Clark. “My team once woke up to a surprise that our competitor could perform really well overnight because of its flash sales at 10 PM. None of my team members was standing by to track that.”

Being in the competitive FMCG industry, Kimberly Clark aims for a double-digit growth. Therefore, taking up more market share from its competitor is very important to Aviroot. So when it comes to price, Aviroot suggests keeping friends close, enemies closer.

In addition to direct competitors, brands should also be aware that grey sellers on the online marketplace can be a threat. According to BrandIQ, 35% of e-marketplace sales happen through grey sellers. This should raise a concern among brands because not only can grey sellers take away your share on an online marketplace, brands will not be able to create a unified brand experience.

Because at the end of the day, consumers will not differentiate if the sellers are grey, authorized or official. They will perceive it as one brand.

The New Rising Star: Nano Influencer

Besides price, reviews and ratings are also important for L’Oreal Thailand where the cosmetic industry is a “Red Hot Ocean”, according to Praponsak Kumpolpun, Senior eCommerce Manager, L’Oreal CPD Thailand.

“Thailand has many strong local beauty brands that are 40-50% cheaper than L’Oreal with roughly the same quality. So monitoring 4Ps (Price, Product, People, Place) is not enough.”

BrandIQ also found that the FMCG category has almost 70,000 reviews with most comments regarding the quality and speed of delivery. This is because FMCG has a “need it now” characteristic, making consumers very sensitive to delivery lead-time.

The number of reviews versus % of reviews that are about delivery across the categories on Thailand’s leading online marketplace; BrandIQ

Aviroot also added that a survey conducted by his team revealed that commercials on televisions are not convincing for consumers today. 80% of respondents also say they’d rather listen to recommendations of their friends and family. This is where the concept of nano influencers comes in.

Influencer marketing is not new in Southeast Asia. Around 40% of companies’ social media advertising spending has been allocated to influencer marketing in Thailand, up from 15% three years ago. Thailand, being the home to 57 million active Internet users, consumers are fairly familiar with social media. Seeing the success of established influencers and bloggers in the industry, many could not help but aspire to be one, in hope to enjoy the perks brands offer; overseas trips, free products, and a large amount of side income.

The trend to become influencers made the social web of today home to a millennial digital entrepreneurial society. Brands make a good use of it by handpicking matured ambassadors, ready to promote their values, from the army of new social influencers.

“Whether they are macro, micro, nano, influencers play a big part in convincing the digital consumers. Knowing that Nano influencer is new to the market, I think it is a big opportunity that brands should start considering.” – Phunnapa, Limtansakul, Senior Ecommerce Manager SEA – Beiersdorf Thailand.

What Can Brands Take Away from This?

Time and again, brands are constantly curious about two things: what is my competitor doing? How do my consumers feel? As ecommerce and social media become a bigger part of consumers’ daily lives, brands are looking for ways to gather data and gain insights from platforms such as Lazada and Shopee as a rich and dynamic data set.

The metrics that BrandIQ will be able to offer to brands.

And the metrics that brands should start paying more attention to, tools like BrandIQ will be able to track and analyze consumer behavior and sentiment on marketplaces, in addition to tracking their own performance as well as benchmarking against competitors selling similar products.

Interested in monitoring your competitor? Get BrandIQ’s free trial here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Alibaba taps user data to drive growth spurt

Earlier this month, it forecast annual revenues would increase 45 to 49%, besting analysts’ consensus estimates by 10 percentage points and adding $42.25bn to its value — almost an entire Barclays bank — the following day.

“Alibaba is evolving into a big data conglomerate,” enthused Jessie Guo, analyst at Jefferies.

Alibaba’s vertically and horizontally integrated services span shopping, movies, finance and logistics, all collecting information on people’s spending, location and viewing.

Once refined, the data are fed back to merchants, who in turn can better target their goods and sell more over Alibaba’s ecommerce platforms.

At the other end, data are routed back to merchants and, in turn, manufacturers, to tell them what items are in demand. Alibaba uses predictive data ahead of its mammoth annual Singles Day shopping frenzy to let merchants know where they should be warehousing goods the day before.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. A timeline of JD.com’s long march into luxury and fashion

JD.com, China’s second-largest ecommerce company, just announced to the public an ambitious plan to advance its position in the flourishing luxury and fashion industry through a $397 million deal with the global luxury e-tailer Farfetch.

In recent years, with the maturing of the fashion industry in China, and rival Alibaba aggressively entering the field with strategic deals with luxury powerhouses Louis Vuitton and Burberry, JD.com’s embrace of the fashion and luxury industries was maybe only a matter of time.

In February 2017, the company created a new online channel named “JD Fashion” which sells products from big-name brands like Armani, Swarovski and Zenith. In June 2017, the company launches its “white glove” delivery service that has men in tuxedos bringing customers their orders.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Visa: Thai people are using more e-payment options, less cash

A recent survey from Visa has shown that Thai people are gradually carrying less cash around, and adopting digital forms of payment as they are starting to see it as more convenient.

73% of respondents in the Visa survey has stated that they use different forms of e-payment. This covers credit cards, debit cards and mobile payments.

It was found that millennials were the group most likely to use online payments (83%), and 60% of them said that carrying around too much cash is not safe.

Visa’s PayWave contactless payment is filling this interest, and users can tap their device at supermarkets and restaurants nationwide.

Read the rest of the story here

 

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Airwallex raises $13M led by Tencent

Australia-based cross-border payments startup Airwallex has closed a $13 million Series A round to expand its reach across Asia Pacific and into Europe. The deal was led by Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Airwallex was founded last year to tackle the issue of cross-border transactions at scale. Unlike predominantly consumer-focused services such as TransferWise — which actually opened an Asia Pacific HQ last week.

Airwallex targets businesses, allowing them to make and receive international payments at scale at both a lower cost and with less hassle.

Already it is working with Tencent to help lower backend costs for its WeChat Pay service overseas — which is seen to have potential to grow alongside the emergence of outbound tourism from China.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Didi’s master plan to win over local Chinese governments with data

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, has virtually no competitors left in the domestic ride-hailing industry, especially after its game changing funding round. According to CNIT Research figures from Q3 2016, the Beijing-based company controls 94.6 percent of the market.

Having all but conquered the domestic market, the Beijing-based unicorn is now turning its focus inward, towards the terabytes of data generated through its app everyday.

Didi’s new device could potentially collect a wealth of data about driver behavior.

Didi’s move to develop its own monitoring device is part of a larger push to analyze as much data as it can about transportation in China. Starting last year, the company has been tracking GPS information from drivers’ smartphones in an effort to curb speeding, sudden acceleration, and other risky behavior.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: Amid brick-and-mortar travails, a tipping point for Amazon in apparel

Amazon is exploring the possibility of selling custom-fit clothing, tailored to the more precise measurements of customers, and it has considered acquiring clothing manufacturers to further expand its presence in the category.

If there are tipping points in retail — moments when shopping behavior swings decisively in one direction — there’s a strong case to be made that apparel is reaching one now, with broad implications for jobs, malls and shopping districts.

“I do think this year is the year apparel e-commerce takes off,” said Cooper Smith, an analyst at L2.

Still, Amazon faces hurdles in its apparel business. Some apparel makers have been frustrated by the prevalence of counterfeit versions of their products on Amazon, peddled by independent merchants.

One idea Amazon is considering to lubricate apparel shopping: custom-fit clothing. The company’s apparel team is exploring the possibility of offering “on-demand” clothing that would be made only after a customer submitted an order, using the customer’s precise measurements.

Read the rest of the story here.

FMCG businesses are taking note of the correlation between mobile data consumption slipping sales growth as some of India’s largest consumer companies have slipped to a two-year low. Indians can buy mini-data plans at the same mom and pop stores where they buy their snacks and a new wave of affordable smartphones has brought hundreds of millions of Indians online for the first time, reports the Wall Street Journal.

We are competing for the consumer’s wallet not just with beverages and other impulse categories, but also with data services on phones. – Venkatesh Kini, President of Coca-Cola India.

With low disposable income, the majority of Indians face difficulties affording monthly data plans and only get online when they have spare change. For a quick glance  on Google, Vodafone Group PLC offers data plans for as little as  15 cents at a time, around the same price as a bag of crisps.

Anup Kapoor, who runs a mom and pop store says that data and voice plans make up for 70% of his daily sales.

The battle for limited space in India’s tiny storefronts is competitive. Cellular companies sponsor sings to make sure customers know that their local mom and pop shops offer more than candy. Kapoor’s shop has a big sign of Vodafone, while posters of Frito-Lay chips and Coca-Cola are smaller.

I can do without conditioner. But I can’t do anything without my phone, I can’t hear songs, surf the net or chat with friends,” says Lakshmi Kumari, domestic worker. 

A version of this appeared in Wall Street Journal on August 15. Read the full version here.

The Singaporean government mobile app called “OneService” will optimize public services with a one-stop user interface where users may report municipal issues such as pest control, cleanliness, sewer problems, among others, reported Tech in Asia. The real feat was in the process itself.

Singaporean Government mobile app OneService

OneService App. Source: Tech In Asia

Data organization across traditional institutions

The project was delayed for many years due to the difficulty of organizing and aggregating information across various government institutions.

“…it’s not just five agencies. It’s more like 85 agencies. Trying to put all the rules together is the kiss of death,” says Chan Cheow Hoe, the government chief information officer at the Infocomm Development Agency of Singapore (IDA) who has been working on this project since 2014.

…it’s not just five agencies. It’s more like 85 agencies. Trying to put all the rules together is the kiss of death.

The team overcame the bureaucratic tangle by creating a separate “engagement layer,” meaning that the  databases remain separate in each agency, but data would be shared back and forth between the engagement layer and the agencies itself. Users deal with one interface, which avoids the problem of molding data collection process into one streamlined entity.

 

One service to rule them all, one service to bind them

The Singaporean Government OneService mobile app has laid the groundwork for further digital integration – a “whole government API”, which is a network of pipes that will allow data to flow easily, within agencies, the government and the public.

Singaporean Government mobile app OneService

Singapore’s API structure. Source: Tech In Asia

Read the full article and more on the API on Tech in Asia here.