Retail in Asia


Why are brands championing their official websites to sell direct-to-consumers in Asia?

In Asia, the time is ripe for brands to put at the centre of their digital commerce strategy. The region has been experiencing phenomenal growth in online retail, with annual sales expected to reach USD 2.8 trillion by 2025, up from USD 1.7 trillion in 2020 – a growth of 65 percent over five years, according to research and consulting firm Forrester.

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In South East Asia, where much of this growth is happening, a report by Google, IPSOS and Sixth Factor showed that 55 percent of shoppers have used throughout the path to purchase journey, and 41 percent of shoppers indicated that gave them an immersive experience (compared to 35 percent of marketplace users). Interestingly, across product categories the purchase value via official websites is on average 20 percent higher than on marketplaces.

Beyond the opportunity of growing Direct-to-Consumer sales, an e-commerce enabled website provides the most direct access to customer data, an essential asset in Asia’s competitive retail environment.

In their latest co-published white paper “Asia Mapping the journey for strategic digital commerce transformation in 2022”, e-commerce agency CLEARgo and digital solutions platform Adobe Commerce lay out the challenges and opportunities for brands looking to sell directly to consumers through their official website.


As brands in Asia consider the opportunity of digital commerce transformation, the white paper outlines three key dimensions informing the process of creating an e-commerce enabled official website.  

Omni-department: Getting all hands on deck

According to Adobe and econsultancy, 77 percent of senior APAC executives believe that marketing and IT have a shared vision to unlock creativity and innovation, whereas only 27 percent agree that their disparate marketing and technology teams collaborate successfully today.

Yet collaboration is key: creating an omni-channel experience requires complete integration with a brand’s existing infrastructure, including its ERP and CRM systems, third-party logistics providers, the many different payment options available across markets, and so on.

Yue Hwa, a prominent department store in Hong Kong and Singapore, is currently carrying out its own review process to drive collaboration as it launches its e-commerce website: “As a more traditional department store, online was a new concept for the brand when we launched our first site” shares Yue Hwa’s Head of E-Commerce Alan Cheung. “Internal communication has been key to changing mindsets and ensuring buy-in from all departments into the potential of an integrated The next stage will be training our store sales staff to make the most out of our and help them raise the customer experience even further.”

Source : ShutterstockOmni-channel: Crafting a unified experience

Across Asia, consumers expect the option to buy online and collect in-store, or be offered a host of quick commerce options, loyalty offers, VIP benefits, etc. In 2021, Global Data’s survey of 6,000 APAC consumers showed that convenience (73 percent) and time-saving (67 percent) are the two primary drivers of online shopping in the APAC region. Shoppers also relied on online channels to take advantage of lower prices (48 percent) and variety & choice available (47 percent).

Leading luxury, premium and lifestyle brand operator Bluebell Group has made this process a priority to meet evolving consumption trends. “In order to complement our sales commissions model, we have introduced systems to track sales driven by offline staff, even when they happen online” previously shared Jacky Leung, Chief Information Officer at Bluebell Group.

In Hong Kong and China, retail company Swire Resources sought solutions to increase online sales for its sportswear retail chains under the Marathon Sports & Catalog, to consolidate e-commerce sites to simplify management and operation, connect backend systems for faster product fulfillment and delivery and gain greater visibility into loyalty member preferences across online and off-line channels.

Following an upgrade of its owned e-commerce interface, the company was able to achieve faster time-to-delivery with more efficient operations, substantial sales growth over a nine-month period, 50 percent growth in membership with its unified loyalty programme, and accelerated response time on the e-commerce sites. “Part of the growth can be attributed to our new site with better UX/UI design, but it’s also a result of increased cross-selling, smoother checkout and faster website response from Adobe Commerce” shared Kelvin So, General Manager of IT, Swire Resources.

Omni-market: Testing new waters

As part of their growth process, many brands look for tools that will allow them to capture new segments, reach new markets, or diversify their business models. 

For multi brand retailers like Yue Hwa, a offers a springboard to do all three.  

One of the department store’s objectives with its new website will be to capture a younger segment of the market – newly married and young families – and this requires diversifying its product offering. To do so, the company will introduce a B2B2C corner with a marketplace, allowing suppliers to setup their own online shop, with their own inventory and marketing capabilities. 

“Creating an omni-department, omni-channel and omni-market is a discovery process” shares Charles Chan, Founder and Managing Director at CLEARgo. “Many brands begin this process with an idea and strategy of what a new or upgraded website might do for their business – but along the way we often introduce a host of tools that can enhance their initial vision and can help further enhance their customer journey.”


Beyond highlighting these brand case studies, the white paper outlines the key steps for brands to craft a best-practice in Asia.

  • Building compatibility

Today’s consumer browses, researches, engages, and transacts across various screens. As a result, they expect their experiences to be lightning-fast, seamless, and intelligent across devices, calling for brands to build compatibility for every facet of their website. Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Product Information Systems (PIM) 

  • Designing Convenience

In South-East Asia, online represents around 80 percent of channels that consumers use to browse and discover new products, according to a 2021 report by Facebook and Bain & Co. For this reason brands are opting to address the full customer experience under one site, using AI to drive product discovery and serve personalised marketing and promotional content. 

  • Managing Inventory

Developing and managing an integrated product catalogue is among the toughest challenges facing brands when building their digital commerce-enabled Inventory management tools like multi-location tracking have become key to meeting demand across diversified sales channels.

Source : Shutterstock
  • Acing the checkout

Far from being the last touch point with customers, the check-out experience – from delivery options to pricing transparency and local payment options – is one of the most important steps in driving consumer satisfaction and ultimately loyalty. Order Management Systems (OMS) can help brands enhancing their customer experience by offering multiple payment and shipping options.

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  • Making the most of data

In a global survey by Accenture, 91 percent of consumers said they were more likely to shop with brands who recognise, remember and provide relevant information. Website and customer analytics solutions provide invaluable data that brands can leverage to adopt and roll out ever more creative steps to enhance the customer experience. 

Download the white paper “Asia Mapping the journey for strategic digital commerce transformation in 2022” here.