How Southeast Asian ecommerce companies should brace themselves for Singles Day

Mobilised and motivated by Alibaba, China’s Single’s Day (11.11) shopping frenzy is spreading to Southeast Asia this year. In 2015, the 11.11th drove US $14.3 billion in online sales in China. In comparison, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, sold a mere $5.8 billion in the United States.

Whether you are a merchant, reseller or marketplace, here are some tips that can help maximise returns on the busiest sales day of the year:

 1. Partner uppartnership

Stick to what you’re good at. There is no way one platform or merchant can do everything. Take Lazada for example. During key sales periods last year, the company saw its revenue uplift by six times on November 11 and December 12. Not to mention, there was a 55% spike in orders on Black Friday and a 45%.

Due to the growing consumer base, the company has changed approach over the years. Instead of trying to do everything in-house, the platform has moved to a partnership model of eBay and Amazon to work with specialist partners who can help everything from creating content, recommending photographers, to fulfilment and logistics partners. Spend on partnerships that exist to do all the heavy lifting for you.

 2. Automate onboardingautomate-onboarding-process

Merchants, if you manually upload stock to marketplaces, you’ll only be listing 50 out of 1000 products. Likewise, for marketplaces there are so many other things to worry about to prepare for sales spikes that there isn’t enough time to manually onboard sellers. Mountains of product data will come in and marketplaces need to restructure it to optimise it for search.

 

Onboarding should be outsourced, completely automated, and only quality control (QC) should be manually operated. You’ll be able to get new merchants onboard in a matter of hours, not days.

 3. Sync stocks to avoid sell-out

The worst case scenario for any ecommerce platform isn’t a lack of customers, it’s a lack of stock when demand is high. Calling up a customer to offer vouchers or refunds is expensive, and time consuming.sync

Australian gift-focused e-commerce platform, Gifts Less Ordinary got a wakeup call on the need for stock syncing when one of the merchant’s items was worn by the Prince George during Obama’s visit with the Royal family. At the time, the retailer, My 1st Years, was sold exclusively at Gifts Less Ordinary. As a result orders poured in faster than Gifts Less Ordinary founder Amy Read, expected.

“We were getting orders every five minutes. The product however is configurable and customisable, so we can’t mass produce these items.” The CEO explains, “Within two days the stock syncing platform we connected with linked to the availability provided by the supplier, and the website automatically displayed when items were low in stock, out of stock, and alerted customers when the next shipment would come in.”

 4. Expect an increase in mobile sales

Last year, 70% of purchases made on Alibaba were on mobile, and we’re seeing the same trend across Southeast Asia. Make sure your site is optimised for mobile if you don’t already have an app and has an integrated shopping cart.

There’s no greater sense of panic for an online shopper than snagging an in-demand item in their shopping cart only to have the checkout frozen or failing to load. Prior to days with expected high traffic, make sure the mobile site or app has enough bandwidth to handle a large amount of orders. With Amazon Web Services, you can actually scale your data plan up and down depending on how busy you think you’ll be.

 5. Beef up the logistics team

The logistics team will be the hardest hit during huge sales volumes. Take some weight off of your existing logistics provider by crowd sourcing drivers with resources like GogoVan in Singapore and Deliveree in Indonesia. Go one step further by asking your marketing team to drive foot traffic to the stores rather than through delivery.

The Southeast Asia ecommerce market is soon to be saturated with new players. The only way to keep on top is by scaling and automating wherever and whenever you can. If you missed the Singles Day rush, Christmas is just around the corner.

This post is also available in: English