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I put out a survey two weeks back about ecommerce enablers to find out the sentiment towards these companies in ASEAN, if brands actually use them (why or why not), and areas where they believed partners could improve.

The answers I received were not what I expected.

60 percent of respondents reported using an “ecommerce enabler”, but given their answers, most didn’t understand the difference between a marketplace and an enabler.

ecommerceIQ

Very simply put, ecommerce enablers are service providers that help a brand execute its digital strategy through a one-stop solution. This solution encompasses content production, web platform optimization, performance marketing, technology to integrate all digital channels, all the way to customer care, fulfillment and/or delivering it to the end customer’s doorstep.

Ecommerce enablers provide a client with whatever it takes to sell successfully online.

Popular examples in Southeast Asia include: aCommerce, iCommerce, etc.

Lazada, Shopee, 11street are not ecommerce enablers, they are the platforms for businesses to sell on. Sure, they might lend a brand an account manager who periodically checks in but their goal is to push for lower product prices and exclusive channel promotions.

The marketplace is neither charging the business for this service or providing special treatment – if a better performing merchant comes along, it catches you later.

This is why Alibaba’s Tmall has its own list of Tmall Partners – specialised agencies that build functional stores for businesses on the Tmall platform. Tmall itself is not the enabler.

The same goes for marketing platforms such as MailChimp, payment gateways like Paypal and delivery companies like Kerry Express or NinjaVan – they may not be ecommerce enablers but they are important pieces of the ecommerce supply chain.

This distinction is vital to the growth of ecommerce in Southeast Asia, especially as most global brands – Samsung, Unilever, L’Oreal, etc. – are choosing to outsource their ecommerce BUs to other experts.

Why? Because inhouse teams aren’t sure how to structure themselves. Over 65 percent of global marketers feel teams are “somewhat integrated” or “broken out by channel”. For ecommerce to work, Marketing needs to align with Sales, and Service.

 

ecommerceIQ

But ecommerce isn’t a magical band-aid capable of fixing all problems – especially not corporate silos.

Aื FMCG industry leader recently asked me, “what is something you would do to improve my brand’s digital strategy?”

My reply?

“Establish internally what the business wants from ecommerce, who’s in charge of this division and the resources the business is willing to dedicate before even bothering to bring on an enabler. Without internal alignment, it becomes one inefficient mess and everyone ends up pulling hair.”

After working with some of the world’s top brands – Unilever, Microsoft, Reckitt Benckiser, Payless, Samsung – I’ve been fortunate enough to see how these well-oiled machines function and why it doesn’t necessarily work for ecommerce.

The beauty of digital is that it’s instantaneous, which is the complete opposite of how decisions are made in these enormous corporations. It’s new, it’s disruptive.

Online moves quickly and requires constant care because a store that never sleeps means inventory, pricing, recommendations, customer support need to be up to date 24/7. It gets even more complicated when the ecommerce enabler needs to manage a brand.com and a marketplace shop-in-shop (SIS).

What often gets overlooked by brands is the shift in power.

Dangling more visibility over the thousands of grey market and official sellers on its site, a marketplace will push aggressively for more deals, more exclusivity, more vouchers, now, now, yesterday, while the brand pushes back with the same tenacity, touting “channel conflict”, and scrambling to squeeze funds from other departments.

The brand finally ends up throwing paperwork at the problem two weeks past the deadline.

Who wins?

No one.

Certainly not the enabler.

How is it in 2018, we still don’t know how to do ecommerce?

As a marketplace, its job is to offer the best deals and shopping experience to customers to grab market share. It does this by subsidizing prices, and by nudging its merchants to sell more and offer exclusives.

As a brand, its job is to sell to as many customers as possible, keep its distributors civil, maintain brand consistency across channels and mitigate the amount of friction between departments. It does this by offering the same promotions to each channel partner, allocating resources in a democratic fashion and following processes to a tee.

As an ecommerce enabler, its job is to work with its client and ecommerce partners (marketplace, 3PL, payment gateways, etc.) to increase GMV by optimizing digital channels. It does this by executing on behalf of the brand a strong digital strategy, which sometimes means bartering with the marketplace for more visibility for its clients.

Ecommerce enablers are by far nowhere near perfect. Imagine a marriage counsellor trying to find compromise between two hot-headed and egotistic partners refusing to budge but still looking to have a long term relationship.

Oh, and sessions aren’t once a week, it’s an uphill climb everyday. This respondent hit it on the head when describing what they did not like about its enabler.

“Not mature business yet.”

While the concept of ecommerce is not new in the world, the execution, talent and best practices are still nascent in Southeast Asia.

Customers in APAC need education on ecommerce, a company’s ecommerce team in APAC needs education on how to work with other departments, and marketplaces in APAC are still figuring out how to be more like Alibaba and Amazon, two companies with over 10 years operating experience.

An ecommerce enabler is supposed to have all the answers. While a challenge to take on, especially in Southeast Asia, it’s a hot business with a lot to gain, and probably why ecommerce enablers have popped up all over Southeast Asia and India.

And it’s been somewhat positive for respondents using an enabler as majority would recommend it to a friend or colleague.

“Getting an ecommerce enabler should definitely be considered, regardless of what stage a business who wants or is doing ecommerce is in.”

“Allows me to focus on my core business capability and rest assured online segment is still moving along.”

ecommerceIQ

Now what?

Now that the distinction has been made between a marketplace, a payment gateway, a marketing tool and an ecommerce enabler who ties them all together, a business needs to decide whether it needs marriage counselling.

Is it more cost effective to invest and build a team to manage digital channels inhouse or outsource it to a third-party partner? The survey respondents listed reasons why they work with an enabler:

“Aligned with brand principal interest and cost effective”
“Short time to market, revenue growth”
“Strong communications, effective operations”

Now you’ve identified you need one, how do you choose an ecommerce enabler?

  • Assess the experience of its leaders – do they have a strong track record in high-performing digital businesses?
  • Assess the existing clientele – are you in a similar tier/size/industry?
  • Assess the company’s own digital footprint – their performance marketing will be telling of the performance marketing they do for you
  • Assess the scope of work – is the enabler incentivized to sell more for your business?

And now take a look at your own business and decide whether it’s ready to commit to ecommerce. Is there an efficient approval process in place for resource allocation and commercial sign off for digital channels? Is there a C-level stakeholder responsible for P&L?

If not, time to move fast because in the digital world, it’s either give all or risk losing a lot.

 

Want to build an ecommerce strategy in Southeast Asia or speak to an enabler? Send an email to hello@ecommerceIQ.asia or fill out the contact form below





The big deal about Ramadan in Retail

Once a year, approximately 2 billion Muslims worldwide observe a month of fasting to commemorate their Islamic beliefs. This year, Ramadan will start on May 16 and end June 14, 2018.

In Southeast Asia, more specifically the pre-dominantly Muslim countries Malaysia and Indonesia, family members scattered across the region travel home to celebrate the holy month together. In addition to fasting every day from dawn to sunset, there are other consumer behaviors that have awoken retailers and ecommerce players alike.

Eid al-Fitr, the three-day celebration of breaking fast at the end of Ramadan is similar to Christmas in the West. And what is commonly associated with these holidays? Gift giving, new clothes, and feasts.

While the month is a joyous celebration among loved ones, it’s also one of the largest shopping events in the retail calendar – think of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in North America. It pays to pay attention to the Muslim buying power.

ecommerceIQ was invited to speak at Facebook Indonesia’s event a few weeks ago to share its findings about Indonesian shopping behavior during Ramadan based on its new segment Consumer Pulse. This is what we learned.

The average Ramadan shopper profile

Regardless of online or offline shopping preference, majority of Indonesians will buy more during Ramadan.

Based on our survey results, the average Ramadan shopper in Indonesia is a female, between 31 – 40 years of age and spends the most on items in the fashion and groceries categories.

Ramadan 2018

The more indulgent spending may be explained by the fact that prior to the start of Ramadan, working Indonesians have a major influx of disposable income as they receive their bonus for the year.

Unsurprisingly, the more income made, the more they will spend during Ramadan as shown by our survey.

Ramadan 2018

What is important to note is the middle-class household count in Indonesia is expected to rise to 23.9 million in the next 12 years from 19.6 million in 2016.

The country already holds the fourth largest middle-class count on a global scale.

A growing middle-class means emergence of middle class characteristics – more spend on travel, holidays and gifts for family. This is why companies are spending to build credibility early on as reliable brands and influence the behavior of future generations.

This is also what makes the archipelago such an attractive and exciting market.

Shopping peaks during Ramadan

Given the growing popularity of ecommerce across the mobile first region, what trends can we identify in online buying behavior during Ramadan such as what device are they shopping with and at what times?

As soon as the sun goes down, the spending spree begins. Data from aCommerce Ramadan in 2017 show that mobile browsing on ecommerce sites peak at 4-5am and 5–8 pm when people are sitting in traffic.

Ramadan 2018

While the average web session length is longer on desktops, there is more traffic coming from mobile during Ramadan making a great mobile UX important to encourage conversions.

The data also shows that males tend to browse more than females, but females have a higher conversion rate. While marketers should tailor campaigns appealing to both, converting males can be a bit trickier.

Ramadan 2018

Males tend to appreciate a straightforward and simple online shopping versus social and comprehensive experiences. They also buy based on logical steps (versus emotional) and like to research before buying, which can account for the increase in browsing activity.

Capturing the Ramadan shopper

Based on our survey, the most popular online channels for shopping during Ramadan are Shopee and Lazada Indonesia.

While the top players have moved past the question of whether they should have an official online presence, having a shop-in-shop isn’t enough given the number of sellers available.

Questions brand managers need to ask themselves include: how well do my products rank in search? What’s my pricing strategy? How are my product reviews? How attractive is my brand presence? How quick is delivery?

Consumers in Indonesia shared the top three reasons that would convince them to shop online more often.

  1. Special Ramadan promotions on products they need i.e. food and fashion
  2. Payments option cash on delivery
  3. Same day delivery with no additional fees

Sites that did not feature lower priced items suffered a hit in conversions. Indonesians are price conscious and even with disposable income from their bonus, thriftiness is a major factor in consumption behavior.

While it is okay to mix normal priced items on the homepage, lower priced items should be brought to the forefront. This is a great time of year to flush out inventory.

Ramadan 2018

Logistics and payments remain the toughest challenges in Indonesia ecommerce due to infrastructural immaturity and lack of financial knowledge. Most companies have been smart to outsource the two pain points to improve their shopping experience efficiently.

Ideally, fulfillment partners should have a strong local footprint across Indonesia through hubs/sorting facilities and offer multiple payment options to shorten delivery times and give customers flexibility.

Ramadan retail takeaways

During this period, retailers, brands, companies, social merchants are all vying for the same consumers making competition fierce. Everyone is spending more in hopes to catch more customers.

Because not every company has million dollar budgets to burn, marketers have to be smart with their spend and the first step is understanding consumer habits and preferences.

Dear eIQ reader,

First of all, we’d like to thank you for taking the time to visit our site to read our articles in 2016. After reviewing the numerous responses to SPARK40 | 2016, we would like to address the most common comments:

  • Have more frequent posts 

We’re working hard to increase our content output without compromising quality. Our small editorial team combs through research and in our archives to provide the most accurate data to support our insights pieces.

We will aim to publish 3-4 original pieces a week so stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter to receive the eIQ weekly (coming soon).

  • Why is there not more up to date news?

Although we do share headline stories, ecommerceIQ focuses on bringing value as a market research portal over reporting ecommerce related news. To the companies sending us the latest press releases, we will review and include in our daily “Brief” when relevant.

  • Partnership opportunities 

For those who have contacted us in regards to advertising or possible partnerships, please take a look at our media kit to find out more about us – are we the right platform for your business? Will our audience of ecommerce professionals benefit from your content?

We have recently begun accepting sponsored posts and will review your proposal at hello@ecommerceIQ.asia. You can expect a reply within 2 business days.

  • Looking for startup stories

Find them here in our ongoing interview series: eIQ Insider. If you know of any companies that deserve a spotlight, please send their contact details along and we will be more than happy to check them out.


What can you expect from us this year?

Last year, we reported on the state of Southeast Asia’s online maturity and the different types of opportunities available for both global and local businesses. These are a few examples:

  • ECOMScape series: Who are the biggest players in your market?
  • beautyIQ series: How can a brand optimize content and channels to perform better online?
  • Cainiao Network: Intensive dive into Alibaba’s plan to dominate logistics in China
  • SPARK40 | Individuals Shaping Ecommerce in 2016
  • The Brief: Round up of all the important daily ecommerce related headlines
  • 11 ecommerce trends for 2017
  • eIQ newsletter – sign up here if you haven’t

Now that most businesses understand the opportunity that presents itself, eIQ wants to dig deeper into the verticals and their forecasted performance for the next few years. We started with research on the pet and baby industry potential in Southeast Asia.

You can expect more research papers and case studies from us in the next few months and as always, reliable and trustworthy content.

We aim to continually provide ecommerce professionals like yourselves with valuable and insightful data-driven articles. Your feedback and comments are extremely important to us so thank you.

Ambitiously yours,

eIQ Editor-in-Chief and team

Amazon just had its greatest quarter ever. Revenues hit $29.1 billion versus the projected $27.99 billion, citing a 28% year-on-year growth. More importantly, it marked Amazon’s fourth consecutive profitable quarter, reporting $513 million in net income, the highest ever in the company’s history.

As a result, Amazon’s stock price peaked at a record $767.74. Over the last two years, Amazon’s stock has more than doubled while those of its traditional retail peers like Macy’s have remained flat or even declined. And this is just the beginning of Amazon’s growing success and decay of the traditional retail model.

A colleague asked me a few weeks ago which stocks I would invest in. “One, Tesla, and two, Amazon,” is what I answered. Little did I know he had regrettably sold his Amazon shares a few years back expecting it to decrease in value.

Why would someone want to invest in Amazon stock at such a peak price? Very simple. Amazon’s dominance and stock value will only keep increasing with the ongoing global structural shift from offline retail towards ecommerce. Ecommerce penetration in the US today is “only” 7.7%.

Can you imagine Amazon’s stock price when this number hits 50%? Never mind economic recessions impacting people’s purchasing power, America’s consumers – Amazon’s home field audience – will keep on buying even if that means borrowing more money from the Chinese.

ecommerceIQ, 10-year returns for major retailers in US

10-year returns for major retailers in US. Amazon stock beat the Nasdaq index by almost 20x over the last 10 years whereas traditional retailers’ stock prices have remained flat or declined. $1,000 invested in Amazon stock in 2006 would have been valued $26,993 today (unadjusted for inflation). Source: Google Finance, August 2016

Short-term, traditional metrics impede long-term strategic vision for traditional retailers

When speaking to traditional retailers across Southeast Asia about doing ecommerce, the question that always comes up in one way or another is, “What’s the Cost of Sales (CoS) for investing into and growing my ecommerce business?”. In ecommerce and the tech space, many of us are familiar with using metrics like customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), and return on investment (ROI).

However, the metric that resonates most with offline retailers is cost of sales, which is essentially marketing investment divided by revenues. It’s the percentage of revenues that traditional retailers allocate for marketing spend in their annual budgeting.

CoS for traditional retailers often hovers around the 5% mark, driven by legacy organic offline traffic and brand awareness. For ecommerce, especially during the first few years and depending on how aggressively the business acquires customers to grab market share, this number can be somewhere between 50-150%. Obviously, this is much higher than the number traditional retailers are accustomed to and, as a result, is often a major deal breaker for offline businesses thinking of moving into ecommerce.

Fortunately, CoS goes down when the number of SKUs online increase, leading to more organic traffic, higher basket size, and more frequent repeat purchases. In the long run, as ecommerce businesses are able to build up their customer database and find multiple ways to monetize it (more on this later), CoS will decrease and potentially be comparable to comfortable offline retail channel values. aCommerce internal data shows an example of a multi-category online retailer in Thailand starting at approximately 25% CoS and trending down to 5-10% at the end of year one and 5-8% by end of year two.

Unfortunately, most of the traditional retailers in Southeast Asia fail to adopt a long-term vision and never make the initial jump into ecommerce. The lack of talent in the region exacerbates the issue as many retailers have no choice but to put offline retail people into ecommerce positions whose mindsets aren’t wired to think beyond the next holiday season.

In year one, CoS is a whopping 30% but trends down towards 15% by the end of year two, indicating an alignment with offline retail costs in the long term. Source: aCommerce Internal Data, May 2015

In year one, CoS is a whopping 30% but trends down towards 15% by the end of year two, indicating an alignment with offline retail costs in the long term. Source: aCommerce Internal Data, May 2015

Controlling the last-mile: It isn’t about selling more physical products, it’s about who owns the customer

Traditional retailers often see ecommerce as just another store but online. This legacy mindset prevents them from seeing the grand scheme of things.

Unilever didn’t buy Dollar Shave Club (DSC) for $1 billion for better razors, it bought the direct relationship DSC has with more than 3 million male dominant members and the potential to sell them adjacent products and services. Rather than going through retailers like Walmart, Unilever can now go direct to its consumers with all the benefits including higher margins and deeper customer insight.

Alibaba didn’t buy Lazada as a distribution channel for more Chinese products, it bought the direct customer relationships and distribution power to bring in higher margin products and services such as payments and insurance.

It’s only a matter of time before Jack Ma brings his trojan horse Ant Finance and all its associated products such as Alipay (third-party payment platform) and Yu’e Bao (online mutual fund) into Southeast Asia. Alibaba’s foray into insurance through Zhongan and its recently announced partnership with AXA shows us a future where Alibaba can increase its average revenues per user through selling non-physical products online.

Xiaomi pretty much gives away its smartphones for free by selling it at close to bill-of-material prices. Their goal is to amass a huge user base and monetize through selling them peripheral products, plush toys, software, and online and mobile advertising. With over 170 million users as of 2016, Xiaomi has more users than Snapchat (70+ million) and is catching up to LINE (220 million).

The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy by Domenico Tiepolo (1773)

The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy by Domenico Tiepolo (1773)

Pure-play, Internet first retailers are bringing their game to traditional offline retailers

Traditional retailers still believe they have one unique advantage over pure-play retailers: their physical stores. All the hype and buzz about omnichannel retailing has been a ray of hope for the Macy’s and Walmarts of our world. Even as Macy’s shuts physical stores, it has been ramping up its omnichannel game by transforming the surviving ones into show rooms and mini-fulfillment centres for in-store pickup of online orders.

Today, the company no longer breaks out online sales in its investor reporting, arguing the lines have blurred between website and stores. Walmart, having missed the ecommerce boat, has doubled down on omnichannel as well, expanding its ‘buy online and pick-up in store’ initiatives to around 30 markets in the US.

Unfortunately, even that advantage is slowly being eroded as pure-players are quickly moving offline, not so much for distribution but more as an extension of their online brand.

“By opening stores, brands have increased consumer awareness and subsequent site traffic. These disruptors saw the Internet as a way to establish a proof-of-concept and access cheap capital before making the leap to retail.” — L2 Inc

Warby Parker has 12 retail locations across the US, with plans to open seven more. The same applies to Birchbox, the online subscription beauty retailer, which has a flagship store in SoHo in New York and is planning to open at least two more by end of 2016. Even Amazon launched its first physical store in Seattle in late 2015 with a second one planned for Southern California.

Online player Warby Parker has 12 offline stores in the US.

Online player Warby Parker has 12 offline stores in the US.

Contrary to traditional retail merchandising strategies, these stores typically go beyond the “big head” of products and focus on displaying as many product variations as possible, including “long tail” SKUs. The objective isn’t to sell in the store; the goal is to get customers to experience the brand and the products so they’re more likely to buy online.

“These stores carry little physical inventory onsite and are instead designed to help customers zero in on their ideal sizes and fits. This approach echoes that of the company’s website, giving every single item its own opportunity to shine.” — Erin Ersenkal, Chief Revenue Officer of Bonobos.com

It’s not hard to imagine Alibaba and Lazada opening offline stores across Southeast Asia to serve as marketing and branding channels. With the shortage of online and offline customer acquisition channels and increasing cost-per-clicks in emerging Southeast Asian markets like Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, having your own proprietary offline channels provides a strong competitive edge over traditional retailers as well as online peers.

Debunking the omnichannel advantage myth for traditional retailers, pure-play, Internet first retailers going offline are seeing better store efficacy. Source: L2

Pure-play ecommerce going offline has better efficacy than many traditional retailers. Debunking the omnichannel advantage myth for traditional retailers, pure-play, Internet first retailers going offline are seeing better store efficacy. Source: L2

 

Pure-play, Internet first retailers opening offline stores see a significant lift in organic traffic to their websites. Offline stores are more than just another fulfillment centre; they’re becoming a proprietary branding and customer acquisition channel. Source: L2

Offline stores serve as a branding and marketing channel. Pure-play, Internet first retailers opening offline stores see a significant lift in organic traffic to their websites. Offline stores are more than just another fulfillment centre; they’re becoming a proprietary branding and customer acquisition channel. Source: L2

The role of ecommerce for traditional retailers

Traditional, offline retailers are left with two choices when it comes to ecommerce adoption:

1. Ecommerce as another store branch

Treat the online store as another physical store and benchmark it based on the same cost of sales metrics (Eg. 5%), or in Jack Ma’s terms, “Ecommerce as a dessert, not the main course.” Don’t expect hypergrowth with this approach due to short-term metrics ruling out any big, upfront investment. The long-term threat here is that brands being sold by the retailer will cut the retailer out and go direct to consumer themselves as they get the upside of higher margins, customer data, and transparency. Unilever’s move to buy Dollar Shave Club is to do just that, and razors are just the beginning.

2. Ecommerce as the channel to own customers

Use ecommerce as a scalable and cost-efficient channel in the long term to acquire and own direct customer relationships. Later, use these relationships to sell more products, both physical and non-physical, especially higher-margin products like financial services (insurance, loans) and advertising. By owning more customers, retailers increase their bargaining power vis-à-vis brands that increasingly take the option to cut out retailers and go direct.

Not all retailers in Southeast Asia are settling for ecommerce as just another store branch. Lippo Group’s MatahariMall is one example. With top-down support and a long-term outlook from John Riady, heir to the Lippo empire, MatahariMall.com is quickly becoming the number one competitor to Lazada in Indonesia. Moving beyond only retail, MatahariMall is also going into payments and financial services through a partnership with Grab. In Thailand, Central Group is stepping up its ecommerce game with the recent acquisition of Zalora Thailand and Vietnam, and Cdiscount Vietnam.

It’s evident that in order to survive, traditional offline retailers like Matahari, Central Group, or The Mall Group need to successfully reinvent themselves to take on the foreseeable onslaught of pure-play, Internet-only retailers like Lazada moving into their territory.

Traditional retailers also need to worry about online brands cutting them out entirely and adopting a direct to consumer model, something already bubbling in the works for brands like Nike. However, the best bet is on the smart retailers who can carve their own ecosystem, own customer relationships – most of which are increasingly digital, and monetize through a multitude of ways (eg. insurance, advertising, services) and not by peddling products at increasingly low margins. Then, and only then, will the traditional retailer as a distributor survive the disintermediation brought upon them thanks to technology. 

Don’t suffer the same fate as Circuit City.

By Sheji Ho

Share your feedback to @ecomIQ and @sheji_acommerce

Does Ramadan Boost Ecommerce in Indonesia?

This is the question aCommerce sought to answer this Ramadan 2014. With over 200 million Indonesians concluding the holy month of Ramadan with Eid celebrations on Monday, July 28, aCommerce released a case study that analyzed the ecommerce data of five clients during Ramadan in Indonesia. We were interested in the implications of how 88% of the Indonesian population eliminating food and water from their daily life for religious reasons, 66.8 million of whom are online, would affect consumer behavior in ecommerce. Would consumerism decline during this holy month, or simply shift? Would the type of goods being purchased change? Are people spending more or less?

Our sample set includes five diverse clients in both size and category such as beauty, Muslim wear, general (department store), sports and fashion. Given the range of ecommerce development of these various clients this case study is intended to provide a snapshot of consumer behavior and may not be indicative of the whole Indonesian ecommerce market at large.

The data analyzes a data the period two weeks prior to Ramadan, June 7-20, and two weeks during Ramadan, June 28-July 11, and looked at the following data points:

Peak shopping hours: When were Indonesians shopping online?
Strongest performing shopping categories: What were they buying?
Average basket size: How much was being spent?

Below is a summary of the key learnings.

Traffic stayed constant, but shifted earlier

Overall traffic saw a marginal increase of 3% of visitors shopping during Ramadan, but the most important take away was that there was a major shift as to when they were shopping. This stems from the fact that the day starts and ends earlier. Instead of going to the office at 9am Indonesians start the day at 8am and leave around 5pm. See Figure 1.

However, for clients with Ramadan targeted or conscious campaigns and products such as Muslim Wear and Sports, these categories saw spikes in traffic of 29% and 18% respectively.

Indonesians eat, pray, shop shop shop

152% increase in traffic at 4am in all categories except fashion. Instead of waking up, praying, eating and then returning to bed, Indonesians are increasingly using the time to browse online. See Figure 2.

There was a 400% increase in traffic at 4am and a 7x increase in orders for our Muslim wear category. But these gains are not only seen for religious related retail. Sports saw a 189% increase in traffic and 26% uptake in sales at 4am. Lunch time browsing boosted during Ramadan with 12% more than normal at 11am, suggesting Indonesian Muslims are turning to ecommerce and retail consumption instead of going to lunch. See Figure 1.

6pm is the lowest time for ecommerce as people head home, but during Ramadan that drop off was even steeper with a 19% decrease. During Ramadan Indonesians are leaving work earlier and gathering with friends and family to break the day long fast at 6:30pm. See Figure 1.

The majority of shopping still takes place between 11am-2pm, but evening shopping hours were being shifted to early morning. See Figure 1.ecommerceIQ, aCommerce, eIQ

Religious related retail rules

Muslim wear category saw its sales skyrocket during Ramadan. The night long dinners, socializing with families and people returning home out of the city capital means that the demand for traditional and conservative clothing ran strong. There was a 96% increase in transactions of Muslim wear and 84% increase in revenue after Ramadan started.

And shoes. The majority of the sales in Sports rose in the shoes category.

Provocative sells, but not during Ramadan

Contrast this with modern female fashion, which saw a sharp decline in orders per day, suggesting that while Indonesia is a progressive Muslim nation, marketing provocative fashion during Ramadan needs to be done with care. We saw that the CTR for Ramadhan themed fashion (not necessarily including a hijab) but with long sleeves and little skin exposure performed stronger during this month. “Indonesians find it distasteful to see bare legs and bikinis during Ramadan,” MatahariMall.com CEO Hadi Wenas said.

A tisket, a tasket, a big sporty basket

Ramadan is not like Christmas where gift giving is the norm. Nonetheless average basket sizes saw significant increases. People were buying in much bigger quantities. For example, our sports category saw average basket size increase by 67%. The more decadent spending may be explained by the fact that prior to the start of Ramadan, working Indonesians have a major influx of disposable income as they receive their bonus for the year. The median basket size was around 120,000 IDR or 10.3 USD.

ecommerceIQ, aCommerce, eIQ

4 Strategic Recommendations for Ramadan Ecommerce

1. Shift marketing to 3am

Boost SEM, online marketing and promotional offers to between 3am-6am. Indonesian Muslims are waking up and staying up and they are shopping online as Figure 1 shows. Save money from marketing spend (online or offline) during the traditional prime time of 6pm-8pm. Prime time has shifted to the morning as families are eating together and going out in the evening. Do not miss the opportunity to capture the new age Indonesian customer.

2. Remove provocative images from homepage

That doesn’t mean you have to change your whole product to be religiously targeted or non-secular but use this month to feature more conservatively dressed models, long sleeves, no cleavage or bare chests, longer skirts etc. Or else risk facing major bounce rates (if you receive traffic at all). As a time for family and religious sacrifice, Indonesians find provocative imagery especially distasteful during Ramadan.

3. Rethink your bestsellers

For non-Muslim wear categories rethink your bestsellers and home product page to reflect Indonesian values and culture. What sold best last month will not necessarily work during Ramadan. Consider products and marketing that focus on family, community, their upcoming vacation time, etc.

4. Feature affordable items

Sites that did not feature lower priced items suffered a hit in conversions. Indonesians are price conscious year round and even if they are playing with a spike in disposable income from their bonus, thriftiness is a major factor in consumption behavior as we saw with our brands. Be aware of mixing up high priced items on the homepage with bringing the lower priced items to the forefront as well. This is a great time of year to flush out some of that inventory.

Conclusion

Ecommerce during Ramadan has the potential to be explosive as seen with the amazing shift in behavior as Indonesians woke up and immediately hit the internet for online shopping. Whether those potential shoppers are captured or not depend fully on strategic timing of marketing and a consciousness of traditional values integrated into product choices and campaigns.