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One of the most attractive points of listing your brand’s products on Lazada is the ability to take part in its multitude of campaigns, accessed by thousands of customers.

Such campaigns aren’t limited in size and scope: they range from huge events like its heavily marketed Online Festival, which include 11.11 and 12.12, to smaller weekly campaigns such as the current ‘Fall In Love’ event for Valentines Day.

Not only does Southeast Asia’s largest ecommerce platform promote campaigns via large banner adverts on its main landing page, it drives traffic via paid acquisition channels and email marketing.

BrandIQ

Valentine’s Day campaigns this week include ‘Valentine Day Sale’ with Unilever in Indonesia, ‘Lazada Delivers Love’ in Philippines, and ‘Fall In Love’ in Thailand

For brands, such visibility is critical; Southeast Asian consumers increasingly use online marketplaces to begin their product journey, bypassing even search engines.

ecommerceIQ

A study by ecommerceIQ found that 57% of Indonesians start their product search on marketplaces.

Lazada promises significant internet traffic during its biggest campaigns – the 11.11 sales event attracted 10 million site visits in the first 24 hours and garnered 10 times the sales volume when compared to non campaign days.

While traffic is definitely attractive to brands, an analysis of campaign promotions by data analytics platform BrandIQ found that companies have limited control over the visibility of their products during such events.

Provided brand managers meet Lazada’s conditions of discount percentage and relevant categories, they can pitch as many SKUs as they like for campaigns such as ‘Flash Sales’ and ‘Daily Deals’. However, this only accounts for a small percentage of the ‘shelf space’ available on the Lazada campaign page with the majority of product placement within the campaign categories out of the brand manager’s control.

BrandIQ

The ‘Flash Sales’ portion of campaigns are among the few ways to boost sales of brand’s products.

Marketplace and Brand relationship

Brands shouldn’t take a hands-off role after agreeing to participate in a particular campaign. BrandIQ discovered that the maximum mileage garnered from these campaigns lean more towards promoting Lazada’s own inventory and not the brand’s official shop-in-shop (Amazon, anyone?).

Lazada holds inventory of major products, and sells it via a retail model. These campaigns offer a window for Lazada to boost sales of its own inventory.

How? BrandIQ deep dived into a current category campaign, ‘IT on Sale‘, running from February 6-9 on Lazada Thailand. The sale advertises ‘up to 70% off’ electronic category products.

BrandIQ

BrandIQ

Both the ‘Recommended Items’ and ‘Mobiles on Sale’ portions of the ‘IT on Sale’ campaign lists Lazada’s own retail SKUs over brand’s Shop in Shop SKUs.

The data indicated that the products listed under ‘Recommended Items’ were sold by Lazada. This is also the case in the sub-category ‘Mobiles on Sale’ portion – for example, all listed SKUs are sold directly by Lazada, rather than the Samsung or Huawei official stores.

Directly under ‘Recommended Items’ is another portion of the landing page titled ‘Top Brands on Sale’.

BrandIQ

Clicking on the brand’s logo takes customers to the brand’s official store, but where is the user directed after clicking the individual SKUs shown to the right of the brand logo?

BrandIQ

BrandIQ ascertained that 13 out of the 20 products listed were those sold directly by Lazada itself, rather than the official store.

This is despite the fact that official shop-in-shops offer the same product; it’s a conscious decision by Lazada to sell its own retail SKU over the brands.

Brands should pay close attention to the evolving nature of marketplaces and look to them as a way to jump into ecommerce, but not the long term game. As the ecommerce landscape becomes increasingly competitive and incentivized; companies need careful monitoring of all acquisition channels if they desire sustained growth.

 

With Alibaba’s acquisition of Lazada and Southeast Asia’s mirror-like ecosystem to that of China, it’s no surprise that the region’s more popular marketplace is moving towards a more Tmall-like model.

The largest sign being the opportunity for brands to design their own shop-in-shop – called Tmall flagship stores in China. They drive on-site traffic and simply optimizing shop-in-shop text and images can lead to maximum conversions.

In this article, we look at some best practices from popular Tmall flagship stores in China and explore opportunities for brands to improve their shop-in-shop performance on marketplaces in Southeast Asia, specifically Lazada.

Best Practices for Shop-in-Shops: Learnings from China

Tmall’s shop-in-shop concept called flagship stores – 天猫旗舰店 in Chinese – became officially available to brands in 2010. Ever since then, global and local brands and retailers have opened their own branded stores on China’s biggest ecommerce platform.

They include Apple, P&G, Estee Lauder as well as retailers like Costco, Macy’s and even Amazon.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

P&G store on Tmall

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Apple Tmall store

With the help of official TPs (Taobao Partners), agencies who help brands design and operate flagship stores, Tmall stores in China have undergone a massive transformation.

Although every brand has a unique Tmall flagship store identity, there are several patterns that successful brands employ that could be applied to marketplace presence in Southeast Asia, whether today or in the near future. They include:

  1. Bundling
  2. Rich, often video, content for branding, testimonials/social proof, and product tutorials/walkthroughs
  3. Coupons and promotions
  4. Flash sales and time-based offers
  5. Live chat (often split between pre-sales and post-sales live chat)
  6. Reviews management
  7. Unique store design
  8. Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)

Bundling

Bundling is a very common concept on Tmall brand stores because it helps brands achieve three things:

  1. Address channel-conflict, usually online, by creating ‘new’ products by combining them together into a single SKU.
  2. Increases average order values (AOVs) to offset delivery costs. This is frequently applied by CPGs such as Unilever, P&G and Coca-Cola whose products, if sold in single units, wouldn’t make sense for ecommerce.
  3. Quickly testing new product combinations and their traction. For offline retail, it often takes months to get new SKUs into the distribution chain and then another few months to get feedback from customers.
Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Example of P&G product bundling

Rich content for branding, testimonials/social proof, and product tutorials/walkthroughs

Tmall flagship stores have evolved over the last decade to become a viable alternative to brands’ creating their own ecommerce sites. Nowadays, Tmall allows brands to soup up their stores with not only banners and graphics but also more engaging videos.

Why is this important? Because viewers can be 64-85% more likely to purchase after watching a product video.

Below are examples of Estée Lauder and Johnson’s Baby using video on their Tmall flagship store homepages.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Estée Lauder home page on Tmall rich in content

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Johnson & Johnson informative home page on Tmall

Coupons and Promotions

What is Tmall without promotions? Neutrogena’s flagship store has a dedicated section for coupons that can be redeemed and applied right away to increase chances of a browser converting.

Neutrogena coupons on Tmall flagship store

 

Johnson & Johnson’s Aveeno brand offers customers a chance to enter a lucky draw for each purchase.

P&G offers customers a gift set if they spend over 159 RMB, approximately $23.

Flash sales and time-based offers

Aveeno offers 50% off for buyers in the first 5 minute of its flash sale, limited to 1,000 units.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Live chat (often split between pre-sales and post-sales live chat)

Often credited as one of the reasons why Alibaba/Taobao was able to defeat eBay in China is live chat. Since the early days, Taobao offered a way for customers to talk directly to merchants through it’s WangWang chat platform.

When Tmall spun off from Taobao, WangWang was also applied to the B2B2C Tmall model. Nowadays, customers can login and chat directly with the customer service reps of a brand’s Tmall flagship store.

Neutrogena offers dedicated chat lines for pre-sales and post-sales live chat.

Lazada Shop-in-ShopReview management

Tmall allows customers to leave reviews after their purchase and also for merchants to reply to their customers. This offers brands a way to manage their online reputation – something most brands have engaged TPs to help manage due to high volumes.

Below is an example of Neutrogena’s TP helping address a customer’s negative review.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Store design

Having a great-looking and brand-aligned store design can mean the difference between a high and low conversion rate. In China, brands often engage TPs to help them not only manage but also design and decorate their stores.

Adidas’ Tmall flagship store design follows its brand guidelines so customers browsing the store will feel like they’re on the Adidas.com official brand site.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

 

Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)

Product detail pages (PDP) don’t have to be bland and boring. Tmall’s official stores have taken PDP design to the next level by including high-res images, videos, customer reviews, company details/history, and much more. All this is to help increasing conversion rates by providing customers with as many relevant details as possible as well as establishing trust through brand consistency and social proof.

Left: Tide product detail page on P&G Tmall flagship store

Right: Tide product detail page on P&G Lazada Philippines shop-in-shop

Which one has a higher conversion rate?

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Best Practices for Shop-in-Shops in Southeast Asia

Obviously, Chinese ecommerce and Tmall are several years ahead of Southeast Asia. However, as Lazada is already moving towards a Tmall model and offering more and more features to brands operating shop-in-shops, there are several best practices that can already be implemented for brands to benefit from:

  1. Brand-centric store design
  2. Rich (video) content
  3. Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)
  4. Onsite SEO
  5. Live chat
  6. Product sampling

Brand-centric store design

Launched as early as 2013, Maybelline was one of the first shop-in-shops on Lazada. As one of the pioneering brands in Thailand ecommerce, Maybelline’s Lazada shop-in-shop store design arguably is the most sophisticated, offering high-res, brand-aligned banners and creatives as well as video content.

Lazada Shop-in-ShopRich (video) content

Lazada offers YouTube video embeds that Maybelline has used to feature campaign and branding videos. Others like La Roche Posay are leveraging videos to explain how to use their products via walkthroughs.

Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)

Brands on Lazada still under perform in terms of PDP optimization. Most SKUs use only a few lines to describe the product and only a few brands have utilized images or videos to spruce up content.

Maybelline PDP on its Lazada Thailand shop-in-shop

Maybelline PDP on Tmall flagship store

Again, which one would convert better?

Onsite SEO

To gain organic traffic coming from Google and also from Lazada, brands should increase the amount of text on their homepage, category and product detail pages. Some of this is done by Lazada but brands should be actively driving this process, either directly or via partners.

Below is an example of the Maybelline Lazada Indonesia shop with footer text optimized for SEO.

 

Live chat

Live chat is pretty much the default standard on Tmall flagship stores but only a few brands are offering it on their Lazada shop-in-shops. One example is La Roche Posay who recently piloted a live chat feature on its Thailand Lazada shop-in-shop for a short trial period that has since ended.

 

Product sampling

Another unique feature that’s currently being piloted on some Lazada shop-in-shops is product sampling. Purina One’s shop on Lazada has a link out to a form where users can sign up to receive free samples. This is a great way for brands to not only acquire new users for their CRM database but also increase the exposure of new products.

As ecommerce continues to develop in our region, more brands are faced with the choice to set up on popular marketplaces or build their own brand.com website.

Setting up shop on marketplaces is more than simply uploading product pictures and hoping for a sale – it requires a similar strategy to setting up a brand.com. Businesses on marketplaces shouldn’t forget about the variety of tools available to them to influence sales and conversion rates and can either choose to do this themselves or partner with a specialist, “TP” in Southeast Asia.


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The first two articles of beautyIQ series looked at how to get customers’ attention by blending transactional and discovery content and localizing it according to Southeast Asian customer cultural preferences. The next step to any brand’s successful ecommerce journey in Southeast Asia is to figure out where to sell their products, which will be the focus of this article.

Two thirds of shoppers in developing Asia say access to branded goods is at the core of their ideal shopping experience.

Yet Southeast Asia has only one third of retail stores per capita compared to the United States, limiting offline shopping of branded apparel, beauty and other products and making the internet a great distribution channel. In order to sell products in Southeast Asia, it is vital for brands to be seen online.

Brands have typically three options when selling online:

  • Create a localized brand web store
  • Partner with official distributors or sell on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LINE
  • Open a flagship shop (shop in shop) on a marketplace or online retailer

Of course, each option has its pros and cons for brands to consider. The channel on which to sell online will depend on the particular brand guidelines and its positioning, for example, Kiehl’s strictly cannot sell on a marketplace. Yet, in Southeast Asia having a localized brand web store and presence on a marketplace might bring in more dollars.

Where to Sell

The beauty of selling on your own webstore is complete control over the branding of your products, sole ownership of customer data and higher margins as you would sell directly to consumers and no commissions would need to be paid to ‘middlemen’.

aCommerce internal data showed localized webstores of particular brands in Thailand last year experienced 15% month-on-month growth of gross merchandise value (GMV) and GMV of products sold on brand webstores made up 45% of total product sales on various online platforms.

The risk is that the creation of a brand webstore is pricey as brands might have to invest up to $100,000 over a one year period with additional costs for logistics or marketing.

Selling on social networks is another important channel to capture consumers in Southeast Asia as this is a mobile first region. According to Bain & Co, around 30% of sales in Indonesia come from social media, blog shops and messaging apps as 27% of consumers in big cities and close to 80% in the countryside research and buy products on their phones.

This channel may not be appealing for established brands as social networks are mostly used for consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sales but up-and-coming local, regional or global brands may consider partnering with LINE or Facebook for more personalized communication and direct channel to communicate with potential customers.

Opening a flagship store on an online marketplace or “shop-in-shop” provides more powerful distribution. For example, Lazada drew more than 150 million visitors in August from six Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore), SimilarWeb data shows. While it is extremely popular in most markets, it’s not the number one go to marketplace in every country.

By analyzing average monthly web traffic, businesses can decide which marketplace to sell its products on for heightened exposure. eIQ has compiled the rankings for Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The benefit of selling on a marketplace is the opportunity to tap into an existing large pool of potential customers. There is no such thing as a free lunch and the cost in this case is more competition and a commission that marketplace will charge for brands to sell their products on their platform.

Tricks to Know

If your brand does decide to sell on Southeast Asia’s popular marketplaces to capture their millions of visitors every day, it is best to keep in mind no two are alike.

Each platform has its own guidelines and product content needs to be modified accordingly.

For example, marketplaces tend to promote products on their front page from brands who have proven good sales, so sellers may find it beneficial to work with a brand solutions team to secure higher visibility for their campaigns.

Lazada allows brands to create a “shop-in-shop” that incorporates interactive features such as sliding banners and video content. This is so sellers can customize their shops to feel like a brand.com and provide shoppers with a pleasant shopping experience. This option may be wise for brands who do not have the budget to create a full ecommerce website.

Maybelline Thailand official “shop-in-shop” on Lazada. Source: Lazada Thailand

 

L’Oreal Thailand “shop-in-shop” on Lazada. Source: Lazada Thailand

 

For beauty brands, Sephora may be a good marketplace to sell on as it features detailed product descriptions and reviews, but all product images are shot from one angle and there is no brand related content. However, compared to, for example, Lazada where almost any brand can sign up to sell their products, getting sold on Sephora is dependent on a decision by retailer’s buyers.

Display of L’Oreal Paris products on Sephora Indonesia online store. Source: Sephora Indonesia

Zalora allows brands to provide a short description or visual, while the product descriptions are standardized. As product reviews are rare on Zalora, the marketplace might offer a discount or some other incentive for users to leave reviews which is a great tool to persuade customers to buy products.

L’Oreal Paris shop on Zalora. Source: Zalora Thailand

 

Brand Spotlight

La Roche Posay’s “shop-in-shop” on Lazada is a good example of how to exercise engaging content into a marketplace site. With multiple product displays, sliding banners and video content, the brand stands out amongst other standard displays.

La Roche Posay’s “shop-in-shop” on Lazada. Source: Lazada Thailand

 

How to Make the Most of Your “Shop-in-Shop”

Follow these tips and they will help your brand gain more visibility and increase sales when selling on marketplaces:

  • Fully optimize page design and brand banner (use slides, images, graphics)
  • Consider ‘knowledge buttons’ that lead to more discovery content. For La Roche Posay, the knowledge button leads to tips from certified medical professionals. Rich content here is advisable, as the page could be redirected to engaging/actionable content
  • Optimize product images: create 360 degree view of products. Currently a lot of brands showcase one dimensional product images, but customers should have a complete view of what they intend to buy as they can’t touch it
  • Banner should re-direct to product category page
  • Optimize video content to differentiate brand identity: tell a visual story
  • Fully engage customers in product details: explain benefits, ingredients/nutrition and instructions (if applicable)
  • Create engaging content such as product endorsement (for example, from doctors) and brand history

Brands should consider the above mentioned benefits and drawbacks of selling on various online channels in Southeast Asia as preferences will vary. It would not suit premium and luxury brands to open a “shop-in-shop” on marketplaces as that could tarnish their brand image.

Yet, for many brands, especially new, having both – a brand web store and a shop on various platforms will ensure that more customers see and can buy their products, especially if they are not widely available in the limited amount of retail stores in the region.

Stay tuned for the next article in our beautyIQ series the following Monday.

BY ANUTRA CHATIKAVANIJ AND AIJA KRUTAINE


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