Omnichannel Commerce: The Blurring Boundaries of Online and Offline

E-commerce in Southeast Asia is characterized by innovative business models and fast growth. Highly fragmented markets, amazingly mobile friendly population and wide spread loyalty towards social media are some of the features that make Southeast Asia a unique e-commerce market. While mature e-commerce markets such as US or China have slowly evolved and transitioned from one prevalent business model to another, Southeast Asia has fast forwarded to incorporate B2C, C2C, Brand.com and Social commerce, all at once!

Thus, the rise of Omnichannel commerce in this region does not come as a surprise to most experts. So, what is Omnichannel Commerce? What’s the main reason for the rise of Omnichannel? And, how exactly is it going to affect the e-commerce market in the long run? Let’s find the answer to these questions!

What is Omnichannel Commerce?

The dictionary meaning of Omnis is All. In the e-commerce perspective, Omnichannel Commerce refers to a multi-channel approach where consumers can enjoy a uniform shopping experience across all channels, be it the e-commerce website, the mobile application or the brick and mortar store from the same seller.

Combining offline and online sales channels together to create a unified user experience is the main motto of Omnichannel commerce. In Southeast Asia, where e-commerce battle field is getting increasingly ruthless, businesses are striving to create unique and more engaging user experience to attract customers.

The Singapore Post Centre (SPC) shopping mall is one of the main examples for Omnichannel commerce. The futuristic mall intends to combine online and offline shopping by letting customers browse through various products in the mall and place an online order to get them delivered at doorstep.

While SPC Mall in Singapore is all set to take the Omnichannel model to the next level, many offline retailers in Southeast Asia are setting up online shops to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon. Brands such as MatahariMall and Nguyen Kim (electronics retailer, Vietnam) are perfect example of brick and mortar brands setting up online shops, creating an Omnichannel experience for the buyers.

Reasons Behind the Rise of Omnichannel

In today’s world, when the boundary between online and offline is slowly blurring, the rise of Omnichannel is no surprise. However, while mature e-commerce markets such as US or China took years to step into the Omnichannel scene, Southeast Asian market has started experimenting with multi-channel business models in its formative years only.

The main reasons for this trend are:

Break-Neck Competition

Southeast Asian e-commerce market is noted for its highly competitive atmosphere. The simultaneous co-existence of B2C, B2B, B2C2C, C2C models coupled with the rise of social commerce have created a highly-charged market condition, where businesses are fighting to capture market share by creating innovative business models and user experiences.

Thus, retailers are creating an Omnichannel experience to facilitate better customer engagement and in turn, capture a fatter market share.

Cross Channel Purchase Habits

Southeast Asia as a region is highly mobile friendly. On average, a Thai user have 1.4 mobile phones. As a result, most customers tend to use their smart phones for browsing products, but more often than not they place the order for the same product through the desktop website or in a brick and mortar store. In short, often a sale is initiated on one platform and concluded on another.

Owing to this multi-channel shopping behavior, marketers are forced to present their products across all possible channels, giving rise to the Omnichannel trends.

Consumers’ Bias Towards Mall Culture

In most part of Southeast Asia, shopping malls are not just a place where you buy your regular supplies from; they are also the center of social interactions. The hustle-bustle of a shopping mall, the opportunity to check the look and feel of the products and the appeal of being attended by a live person creates a unique shopping experience. The lack of this direct interaction opportunity is one of the biggest obstacles for e-commerce in the region.

Thus, brands are creating an Omnichannel experience for their customers. With online and offline presence, the customers can now choose the channel they like most.

Benefits of Omnichannel Commerce in Southeast Asia

With more and more established brands venturing into online market while keeping their offline store intact, Omnichannel commerce is one of the most prominent e-commerce trend in Southeast Asia today. Reputed offline brands such as Cdiscount, MatahariMall and Central have started capturing e-commerce market share with their online stores. So, what’s in it for the businesses and customers?

Benefits of Omnichannel for Businesses

In a highly competitive market such as Southeast Asia, Omnichannel commerce presents the opportunity for creating an all-around experience for the users.

Presence on more than one platform ensures accessibility as well as 360 degree marketing opportunity for most brands.

The offline counterparts of any online shop are highly useful for offering after sale services too.

Moreover, a great offline network ensures faster delivery for online purchases. For example, Nguyen Kim, one of the popular electronics retailers in Vietnam can offer same day delivery service to their online customers, thanks to their extensive offline footprint.

Benefits of Omnichannel for Buyers

While Omnichannel presents much opportunities to the businesses, the model offers amazing freedom and flexibility to the buyers too.

Thanks to multi-channel presence, the buyers can check out a product in online store and make the actual purchase through the brick and mortar store and vice-versa. The customer has the ultimate freedom to choose the purchase channel while shopping from their favorite brands.

In short, the rise of Omnichannel commerce presents a win-win situation for both businesses and buyers in Southeast Asia. This is especially true in regards to timely delivery and after sale services offered.

With more and more online brands investing in offline stores and traditional offline businesses migrating towards online, it can be safely said, that Omnichannel commerce model is here to stay for good.

On one hand, the Omnichannel model works to solve the pressing logistical issues faced by Southeast Asian e-commerce players, on the other hand, it offers flexibility and choice to buyers too.

 

By |2017-05-03T16:29:28+07:00January 5th, 2017|eCommerce Update|