Weekly Focus APAC: Singapore Customers Expect Brands to Engage in Real-Time

In this edition of Weekly Focus APAC: Singapore Customers Expect Brands to Engage in Real-Time; China Digital Fuels Global Ad Spend; GOJEK Expands India Development Base with AirCTO Acquisition; IKEA Debuts Online in Thailand with Wirecard; UEFA Engages Fan with Alipay; and Prada Goes Digital in China on JD.com.

Singapore Customers Expect Brands to Engage in Real-Time

Some 71% of Singapore consumers expect businesses to interact with them in real-time, while 70% say companies need to change how they engage with customers.

In addition, 82% of consumers in the city-state expect brands to use new technologies to offer better user experiences, according to Salesforce.com’s State of the Connected Customer study. With more than 80% of Singapore customers using connected devices, 75% of respondents in the country are open to the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to improve their experience.

The global survey polled more than 8,000 consumers and business buyers across 16 countries, including India, Japan, Germany, and the United States. It also included more than 500 respondents in Singapore.

Apart from tapping technology to deliver better experiences, consumers also want to engage with trustworthy brands.

Some 73% in Singapore will stop buying from businesses that did something distrustful. Interestingly, 74% think most companies are not transparent about how they use their customers’ data.

Consumers also want brands to adopt sound ethics in their daily operations. Some 77% of Singapore customers believe a company’s ethics matter more today than they did a year ago and 56% will seek out environmentally sustainable companies in their purchase journey. Another 56% will actively seek out philanthropic companies.

Salesforce.com’s Asia regional vice president Jess O’Reilly said: “Singaporeans are becoming more discerning. They have higher expectations of how they wish to be engaged and also expect companies to use innovation to engineer a seamless customer experience. These customer expectations are driving transformation and innovation and reflect the future of Services 4.0, [which] is all about placing the customer at the centre of your business, and earning the customers’ trust with transparent and honest business ethics.”

China Digital Fuels Global Ad Spend

China remains a leading growth driver of global ad spend this year with a projected 5.4% climb to hit ¥671bn (£76.91bn).

Specifically, digital still is the biggest growth catalyst, contributing 63.6% of the country’s ad spend, according to Dentsu Aegis Network’s latest market projections. E-commerce continues to see robust growth and accounts for the biggest share within the digital ad spend segment.

However, the growth forecast for China will be at a lower rate than the previous projection of 7% in January, which Dentsu attributed to a higher-than-expected dip in TV spend at the start of 2019.

TV advertising is projected to drop 6.8% this year, dragging down local market growth, with spending in provincial and local TV channels dipping significantly. However, ad spending on CTV and provincial satellite TV still are on a growth projector.

Across the region, expenditure in Asia-Pacific is expected to climb 4% to reach USD$216bn (£171.47bn), as digital continues to fuel growth with an expected 11.9% climb. In fact, digital is predicted to contribute 52.4% of overall ad spend next year.

The region will also account for 39% of the global ad spend growth, followed by North America’s 34%.

Dentsu Aegis Network Asia-Pacific’s executive chairman Takaki Hibino said: “Asia-Pacific has long been the melting pot of digital and technology developments. Although we have been facing a tougher economic environment, our ad spend forecast has shown that digital connectivity in Asia-Pacific remains at its peak and consumer adoption rates have leapfrogged.”

GOJEK Expands India Development Base with AirCTO Acquisition

Indonesian online platform GOJEK has added a second engineer and product development centre in India, following the acquisition of a local artificial intelligence (AI) recruitment developer AirCTO.

The Bangalore-based AirCTO team has integrated with GOJEK and will build products that can help drive talent recruitment for its new parent company.

Financial details related to the acquisition were not provided, but GOJEK said it was open to more acquisitions in India, particularly companies with expertise in engineering, design, and product management.

It added that it planned to add 100 employees in India with the opening of its new development facility in Gurgaon, pushing its headcount in India to 500 by the end of 2019.

Its expansion efforts in Gurgaon also would include the setting up of product divisions for its food delivery unit, GO-FOOD, which supports more than 400,000 merchants, of which 85% are small micro-entrepreneurs.

Noting that the company had clocked an annualised gross transaction value of US$9bn (£7.14bn) last year, GOJEK’s India managing director Sidu Ponnappa said: “Our investment in Gurgaon underlines our commitment to growing the GOJEK India story. We have looked at multiple ways to expand our operations and concluded that Gurgaon is a logical destination to set up shop.

“With operations underway in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, we will now consider whether further acquisitions are needed as we seek to bring in entrepreneurial teams who can help us further develop the multi-service business model that makes GOJEK a leader in Southeast Asia.”

IKEA Debuts Online in Thailand with Wirecard

Swedish furniture chain IKEA has opened its first online store in Thailand, partnering with payments vendor Wirecard to deliver digital orders and transactions.

IKEA’s Southeast Asia head of e-commerce Koen Besteman said: “With the opening of our online store in Thailand, we are bringing affordable, beautiful home furnishing solutions to people in all corners of the country. Now, people who live hundreds of kilometres from our big, blue-box stores in Bangkok can find inspiration on our website, shop for any of the over 8,000 products in our range, order, pay, and arrange for delivery.”

The e-commerce rollout was enabled via a partnership between Wirecard and Ikano, which owns and operates IKEA stores in the region. The collaboration also sees Wirecard providing digital payment services for IKEA’s online stores in Singapore and Malaysia.

The partners noted that Thailand was expected to have 45.3 million online shoppers by 2022, up from the current 39.8 million. This growth was fuelled by a significant increase in internet users as well as a growth in e-commerce platforms and improved delivery logistics.

Last year, the Thai e-commerce market generated €3.3bn (£2.94bn) in revenue, with electronics and media, fashion, and furniture and appliances the top three product categories.

Wirecard’s regional managing director Jeffry Ho said: “As innovation and technology change customers’ expectations and shape the way people shop, it is crucial for businesses to transform to meet the needs of the new generation of tech-savvy shoppers.”

UEFA Engages Fan with Alipay

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has unveiled a digital platform that it says aims to reinvent fan engagement and boost the presence of European football teams in China.

Delivered on Alibaba’s mobile payment platform, the new digital offering comprised a UEFA lifestyle account that offered insights on European national team competitions and a ‘mini-programme’ where Chinese fans could apply for tickets to EURO 2020.

These features are accessible within the Alipay app, with the lifestyle account serving as a content hub for Chinese fans of European national football teams. The collaboration also marks the first time UEFA is supporting a digital ticketing channel outside its own website.

The football association group’s marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein said: “There is a real appetite amongst Chinese football fans for UEFA’s national team competitions, where they have the chance to see some of the best players on the planet in action. We want to be in a position to give our fans premium content in their own language and our new partnerships with Alipay allow us to do exactly this.”

The digital services are an expansion of an existing partnership between UEFA and Alipay, which was established last November as part of an eight-year deal through to 2026.

Prada Goes Digital in China on JD.com

Luxury fashion brand Prada has opened an online store on Chinese online retail platform JD.com, offering its upcoming fall/winter collection.

The launch was part of the June 18 sales festival and included brands under the Prada Group such as Miu Miu and Car Shoe, which would have their own flagship stores on the online marketplace.

Prada said its online business saw double-digit growth last year and it planned to establish an online presence for all its sub-brands by the end of next year.

JD.com’s president of international business for fashion and lifestyle, Kevin Jiang, said: “International brands are increasingly recognising the power of JD when expanding into China’s burgeoning luxury market and we look forward to helping Prada connect with China’s sophisticated consumers.”