Retailers must redesign digital channels or lose sales

Innovative digital strategies are vital to retain consumers in Southeast Asia's evolving retail landscape.

As Southeast Asia's retail sector navigates post-pandemic recovery, retailers are increasingly focused on redesigning their digital interfaces to meet changing consumer preferences. 

Quan Yao Peh, a Senior Analyst at Euromonitor International, emphasised the necessity for retailers to adopt new digital tools and platforms to maintain relevance and competitiveness.

"Retailers and brands are exploring new ways of reaching and engaging with consumers online," Peh said. 

He highlighted the adoption of social commerce and live streaming, which have gained significant traction over the past two years, particularly through platforms like TikTok. Additionally, technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and applications within the metaverse are being leveraged to create more immersive shopping experiences.

According to Peh, AI is used to create innovative and immersive shopping experiences that help customers make more seamless and confident decisions online. This technological integration is a direct response to the heightened expectations consumers now have regarding their online shopping experiences.

Euromonitor's research identifies three key themes driving innovation in Southeast Asia's retail sector: new digital interfaces, experiential retail, and responsible retail. These themes reflect a broader trend of enhancing online experiences and creating memorable in-store experiences as a differentiation strategy in an increasingly competitive market.

"Experiential retail transforms stores into spaces offering memorable experiences, which are crucial for differentiating from competitors," Peh explained. He also notes the growing importance of responsible retail, which focuses on creating a positive environmental and social impact. This approach aligns with the increased consumer expectations around sustainability and ethical practices that have been amplified by the pandemic.

Consumer behaviour in Southeast Asia has undergone significant changes since the pandemic, with a shift towards greater integration of technology in shopping. "Consumers now have greater choices across physical and digital channels and are more comfortable using technology to facilitate their buying decisions," Peh stated. 

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of social and environmental issues, with consumers expecting retailers to prioritise sustainability and ethical practices across their operations. 

"Consumers in Southeast Asia are increasingly expecting retailers to do good and do right across their stakeholders and value chain," Peh added, underlining the need for retailers to integrate these values into their business models.

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