Retail in Asia


Opinion: Generative AI’s impact on APAC’s e-commerce industry

The retail and e-commerce industries, especially in the Asia Pacific region, have experienced unprecedented transformation in recent years, driven by rapidly progressing technologies and evolving consumer habits.

‘E-commerce 3.0’ is an industry term commonly used to represent a new era of online shopping, leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data analytics to deliver hyper-personalised recommendations, enhance customer engagement, and provide seamless shopping experiences. 

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Efficiency through Automation and Enhanced Business Insights

GenAI tools offer e-commerce merchants a powerful set of capabilities, enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and insight. By automating repetitive tasks such as content drafting, logistics management, and accounting, these tools eliminate errors and create greater operational efficiency, resulting in lower costs. In the APAC region, GenAI’s ability to automate repetitive tasks has helped to address one of the major pain points of rapid market acceleration.

Industry intelligence estimates that the APAC e-commerce market is worth around USD 3.82 trillion, and it is expected to grow to USD 6.15 trillion by 2028. The sheer size and rapid growth of the regional e-commerce market has strained business operations, as it is becoming a challenge for sellers to scale efficiently and meet operational demands while customer needs and expectations evolve simultaneously.

However, workflow automation GenAI tools have aided businesses through eliminating repetitive tasks. For instance, AI email-marketing tool, SmartPush, has helped  merchants reduce their preparation time on electronic direct mail marketing (EDM) by 25 percent.

Some message consolidation tools have also shown to reduce the manpower needed to handle daily customer messages by one-third. Gen AI’s big data analyses can also provide predictive analytics for invaluable insights into business’ customer segmentation based on data collected with consent, empowering merchants to better understand their customer base and effectively cater to their needs. This access to customer intelligence is particularly valuable for businesses seeking to expand into new markets, enabling them to make informed decisions. 

Personalised, Seamless Experiences for Consumers

AI technology also revolutionises the customer experience by addressing common shortcomings in online shopping, especially in comparison to physical retail.

Leveraging AI, e-commerce platforms can provide personalised product recommendations based on individual needs and preferences. For example, the fashion industry has witnessed the popularity of advanced sizing tools, allowing customers to select the most appropriate size without trying on the product physically.

Product try-on tools, like inFITS, are integrated with online clothing stores, and generate customised size recommendations based on the individual products’ specifications and the customers’ input for measurements and fitting preferences. This tool has been very popular in the Taiwanese market and has proven to increase conversion rate by 10 percent, while average customer purchase price grew by 7 to 8 percent, according to internal data. 

With live chats generating a 33 percent higher conversion rate for businesses,  AI-driven chatbots offer convenient, round-the-clock customer service, assisting shoppers with their inquiries, even outside of traditional business hours. Chatbots are beneficial for aiding simple queries and requests, showing potential for reducing costs associated with maintaining a large customer service team.

Moreover, as merchants operate more efficiently with GenAI and enhanced automation and consolidation tools, consumers benefit from improved order management and streamlined logistics processes, ensuring a seamless shopping experience.

However, on top of the efficient text conversations with customers powered by AI, it is the consolidation of various messenger tools on one platform that is key to convert chats to cash. These message centres automatically consolidate customer chats from multiple platforms into one interface, allowing merchants to keep track of and view messages with greater ease and efficiency. This ultimately leads to more efficient response times for customers, no matter their query format.

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Embracing the GenAI Revolution without breaking the bank

To thrive in the dynamic landscape of e-commerce 3.0, businesses must embrace and collaborate with SaaS platforms that offer built-in AI features. These platforms directly address common pain points in e-commerce, empowering businesses to scale operations, automate processes, gain valuable insights, and stay ahead of competition.

By leveraging ready-to-use GenAI features, businesses can meet customer expectations and accelerate growth without the need for costly development efforts. By choosing reputable tools and platforms, businesses can focus on their core competencies, allowing merchants to dedicate their passion to their products. Harnessing the power of GenAI is essential for businesses seeking to thrive in the APAC e-commerce market and position themselves for success in E-commerce 3.0’s ever-evolving landscape.

This piece is authored by Nick Gao, general manager, Hong Kong, at Shopline.