Southeast Asia’s projected rise to become the world’s fourth-largest economic bloc in 2030, along with its acceleration in eCommerce, has made it one of the most attractive markets for companies worldwide. However, businesses outside the region find that entering it is a complicated process that requires a deep understanding of eCommerce fundamentals and the SEA customer experience. The key to helping them establish a beachhead is a partner that can equip them, digitally advise them on each country’s diverse legal and cultural nuances, and help them create a fulfilling customer experience.
“Going into the SEA market, you will never make it without a partner,” stressed Alexander Friedhoff, CEO and Co-Founder of eCommerce enabler etaily. “Players who want to enter into SEA need strong local partners for import licenses, eCommerce expertise in customer service, influencer management,—all these nitty-gritty things which are happening in the back end which are completely underestimated when it comes to observing the overall eCommerce outlook.”
etaily has established six strategic business locations across SEA including the Philippines. The company’s suite of services including eCommerce strategy, data and analytics, and multi-warehousing has also made it a strong partner for European brands such as Nivea, Alpecin, Sebamed, and many others.
Friedhoff, who is immersed in the SEA digital platforms and legal frameworks, discussed the requirements of brands who want to penetrate the regional eCommerce market in two recent events: the first held by the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the second organized by the Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines.
A partner on ground in the concerned SEA country can guide international brands entering into the local industry’s inner workings which are held by channels like Lazada. It can also make them familiar and aligned with the different markets’ complex warehousing, delivery, and customer infrastructures. Finally, that partner can help the brands scale in the region through a skillful implementation of eCommerce, data analytics, and core technologies.
Brands also need to continually update their granular, deep-dive understanding of their SEA customer in their campaigns. The ability to understand the customer’s journey, the competitors, and what both are looking for can make a difference in their digital strategy. “It’s always about the customer. Making the customer happy to allow them to buy, fulfill, return, and get information about the products they want to have,” emphasized Friedhoff.
Technology can infuse them that adaptability needed to respond to a changing regional market, such as social media data on market behaviors, efficient logistics and inventory that can be viewed on real time, and a multi-regional warehouse system and supply chain system for distribution.
A seamless omnichannel experience can also bridge the brands’ offline and online platforms, allowing the SEA market to see offerings from their home countries’ and giving them the assurance and security that these products can be brought to their doorstep.
An eCommerce enabler like etaily can give international brands the building, management, and scaling solutions needed to thrive in SEA. The data-driven social media abilities in its platforms also provide them massive userbases for their marketing campaigns. Within its two years of starting operations in the Philippines, the company developed a regional multi-warehouse system.
Another advantage to having a partner is that the brands will be free to focus on their core business and deliver more rewarding preferred products and services to their new SEA markets. As Friedhoff explained, “Online is, was, and will always be relevant and the pandemic was its semi-accelerator.” However, their proven foundation remains as the brands’ strength: “the fundamental methods which have also made eCommerce important and thriving.”
Entry into the SEA market ultimately means a combination of the essential offline methods and digital technology translating into a rewarding customer journey. “In the end, we are here for one thing: to build great customer experiences, and we are happy to do this with you,” said Friedhoff.
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