Top five things Asia retailers need to do in 2022: Publicis Sapient

Transforming into financial firms, monetising data among key points As counterintuitive as it sounds, brick-and-mortar still relevant

Publicis Sapient has released its inaugural "2022 Retail Guide to Next'' report, which highlights the top five things retail companies in Asia must do in the year ahead to transform their businesses into shopper-first organisations.

In a statement, the company said that as retailers adapt to changing consumer behaviours and strive for transformational growth, it is critical for them to consider how they incorporate new customer needs and expectations into their current business models

"In 2022, retailers must continue to reimagine their businesses for the new age of retail, from evolving as platforms and transforming their store experiences by integrating online and offline to monetising data, investing in financial services products and optimising return costs by focusing on a better customer experience," said Guy Elliott, retail industry lead at Publicis Sapient.

The data is based on shopper data collected through an online survey sent to 1,000 participants across France, Sweden, the US and UK.

Publicis Sapient partnered with McGuire Research to complete the survey.

Additional data points are also based on Publicis Sapient’s Digital Life Index global survey of 9,300 consumers from the US, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and the UAE.

Here are the five key takeaways:

1. Evolve As Platforms To Create One-Stop Shopping For Customers

Based on findings from Publicis Sapient research, the future winners of retail will be those that build a connected ecosystem of related services that customers can engage with through one seamless experience.

Shoppers want to interact with retail brands that offer convenience. Retailers that create value-enhancing, differentiated ecosystems are able to provide a range of items specific to their category, which can become a convenient "one-stop shop" for consumers.

Publicis Sapient research found 65% of consumers in Asia have purchased non-grocery items online in the past three months, while over three in five Singaporeans (61%) and Thais (69%) anticipate shopping online more in the future than they do today.

Signalling a market for one-stop shopping platforms, 85% of shoppers from Singapore and 71% from Thailand make their purchases on online marketplaces (e.g., Etsy, eBay, Alibaba, Shopee) that are typically equipped with retail, content, and community-building capabilities.

Meanwhile, 39% of shoppers globally are more likely to buy from a marketplace that offers a wider selection of products. Instead of bouncing from website to website, shoppers can manage multiple needs in one place, as retailers become their go-to destination for owned products, content consumption and ancillary services.

2. Reimagine Store Experiences By Integrating Best of Online and Offline

Over the last 18 months, Publicis said retailers have faced lockdowns and restrictions, resulting in a surge in e-commerce that has changed consumer expectations and the role of physical stores.

Publicis Sapient research found that 56% of global respondents and 61% of Asia respondents are shopping online at least weekly.

Although the shift to online shopping shows no signs of slowing, there is still room to grow when it comes to returns and trying out items, as only 38% of shoppers globally stated they are satisfied with the ability to try on and try out items online.

Physical brick-and-mortar stores are and will still be relevant and will play a huge role in the retail landscape by allowing consumers to experience a brand in-person.

This brings front and centre how having a seamless integration of online and offline will be critical to retailers’ success in 2022 and beyond.

Some 55% of consumers globally indicated they sometimes go to a physical store to check out an item before purchasing it online, highlighting how store experiences need to be digital and data-driven.

By seamlessly integrating data across web, mobile, storefront and inventory channels, retailers can digitally expand their physical footprint while providing the connected, personalised experiences shoppers want.

3. Monetise Data To Increase Brand Engagement and Sales

According to Publicis Sapient research, smartphones remained the most widely-used device (63%) for Singapore respondents when it comes to online shopping, and even more so for Thai respondents (84%).

In addition, 37% of shoppers globally who buy online would like personalised offers based on spending preferences, while 31% want personalised content or advice to help them shop.

Retailers must therefore break down data silos within their organisations to gain a clearer view and better understanding of their customers' preferences.

Connected data from point-of-sale transactions, website traffic, email engagement and media impressions enable retailers to create targeted campaigns, personalised offers and customer-centric products and services, which ultimately can result in increased brand engagement and sales.

4. Transform Into Financial Companies

Many retailers today are offering financial services or connecting customers with financial services providers as a natural extension of their retail function of buying and selling consumer goods.

They're creating a new ecosystem that serves a large demographic that they currently cater to in retailing.

By leveraging technology and the vast data they have on their customers, retailers are unlocking a large customer base that is either under-banked or has no current banking relationships but still needs financial services like loans, advice or payments.

Publicis Sapient research found that almost half (47%) of Singapore respondents want cash-back partnerships tied to their favourite retailers or grocers, while 34% of shoppers globally want installment payment options tied to their favourite retailers or grocers.

From digital wallets to banking, customers will have their own personal CFO in their back pocket – a one-stop shop for all of their financial needs while still being connected into the retailers' larger business suite.

5. Optimise Returns By Delivering Better Customer Experiences

Publicis Sapient research found that 46% of shoppers globally said that when shopping online, they are more likely to buy from a brand that offers an easy way to manage returns.

By truly knowing the customer, retailers can get ahead of returns. Data is key to improving customer experiences and operational efficiency.

Retailers need data about their products and insights into how customers are buying and returning their products so that the data can be fed into the customer experience.

Providing as much information as possible about products will help customers make better purchase decisions. In the case of apparel, retailers should use data to ensure that, from the start, a product fits the customer.  Returns can be prevented with better customer experiences.

To view the full "2022 Retail Guide to Next" report, please visit here.


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