ShoppersEngagingFormatsIn Southeast Asia, the growth of the digital economy has contributed to the addition of 70 million new online shoppers since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that clearly accelerated shifts in shopping behavior since physical retail came to a standstill amidst global restrictions and lockdown orders. Adobe expects global e-commerce sales to reach US$4.2 trillion this year, making clear that competition is heating up, and data from the region’s leading e-commerce player, Shopee, shows a 60% year-on-year uplift in the number of active sellers on the platform.

What this means is that even though the e-commerce opportunity is apparent in the region, retailers need to work harder than ever to win consumers’ attention and share of wallet.

Meltwater studied online consumer conversations across the Southeast Asia region to help retailers stay on top of consumers’ ever-changing preferences and identify emerging trends and opportunities to make the most of the shopping season.

Anyway, mega-sales are as popular as ever among Southeast Asian consumers, with more than half a million online conversations on the subject in 2021, Meltwater data found. Most of these conversations took place on Twitter, and peaked right before the annual 9.9 shopping sales, as consumers sought discounts and deals during campaign days. Corroborating this, Shopee found that consumers across the region started adding their desired items to cart as early as 30 days in advance.

Shopping events like 9.9 have become an annual affair, as e-commerce players in the region beef up their calendars to maintain a steady pipeline of year-round sales events. But even with the increased frequency, these sales events haven’t lost their luster. Data from Shopee shows that sellers participating in the 11.11 event for the first time last year saw 10 times more orders than on an average day.

Mega-sales are also an opportunity for brands to engage their audiences at scale and in more meaningful ways. Many e-commerce companies do this by bringing in big names from the entertainment world to bedazzle at these events. And consumers are lapping it up: nearly one in every five conversations about mega-sales this year revolved around e-commerce partnerships with popular K-pop groups like Mamamoo, BTS, Twice, and Treasure. Retailers need to go beyond price and promotions to attract and engage audiences in the long run

Having spent over a year-and-a-half in some form of lockdown or pandemic induced restrictions, consumers are missing the experiential aspect of shopping in physical stores. As a result, shoppers are now increasingly seeking differentiated and immersive shopping experiences. One example of this is livestreaming, which has quickly grown to become a billion-dollar global phenomenon. In Southeast Asia, more than 1.4 million social media conversations around livestream shopping have taken place in 2021 so far, which is twice (213%) more than the same time last year. Shopee also reported 2.5 times increase in annual live stream viewership on its platform. Notably, the fastest growth came from audiences aged between 34 to 50, proving that the popularity of this format is not limited to younger generations only.

Gamification is another trend consumers are toying with. Social media conversations around this increased by 48% in the region this year, as consumers took to Twitter and online forums to discuss different aspects of gamified shopping experiences. Importantly, three in five (60%) consumers say that they are more likely to buy from a brand if they enjoy playing a game with it. Shopee found that brands that incorporate interactive elements like quizzes to engage customers saw 6 times more likes and 7 times more clicks per post on the platform.

The fact is that the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated people’s reliance on e-commerce for a range of essential needs. According to a report by Facebook and Bain & Company, groceries were this year’s fastest growing online shopping segment and the enthusiasm trickled to social media, as conversations around online grocery shopping nearly doubled (93%) since last year. But not only are shoppers buying more – and different – products than they used to, but they’re also transacting differently. Changing necessities and preferences have accelerated the shift towards real-time payments as nearly half (53%) of Southeast Asian consumers report using these more frequently now.

Consumers are nowadays not only driven by prices and discounts, but they are also seeking deeper, more real-time engagement in their online shopping journey – and they’re being vocal about this. The post-pandemic e-commerce surge is real, and it’s here to stay. Brands that want to make the most of this growth need to keep up with shifts in shopper preferences. The key to capturing these emerging opportunities starts with keeping an ear out for what consumers are saying.

By Meltwater