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Lazada exec says consumer engagement crucial to growth in e-commerce sector

2019-07-29 10:26 Monday


Lazada Malaysia CEO Kevin Lee recently took part in a discussion at the Alibaba Business School Asian reunion in Kuala Lumpur, where he gave advice to would-be digital marketers and professional startup managers.

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Lazada is the country’s leading e-commerce platform used by millions across the nation, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia. It was founded in 2012, and is now a subsidiary of the Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group, which also owns Taobao and Tmall.

Speaking at the event, Lee highlighted the importance of using social marketing and emerging trends in entertainment and digital consumption to inform companies' strategies of reaching consumers and building loyalty.

He said that marketers should make use of relevant tools, especially the new ways of engaging with content on smartphones such as live-streaming and gaming, to develop their interactions with consumers.

Developments in technology and a higher adoption of mobile internet devices are enabling businesses to better engage with their customers in a more direct manner This will give them a bigger opportunity to build brand loyalty, according to the e-marketing executive.

At the event, Lee took part in a panel discussion in front of an audience of over 200 entrepreneurs and participants from Malaysia and neighboring countries.

Lee commented: “Adoption of smartphone in Malaysia is skyrocketing and that’s such a huge opportunity for engagement. For us, this is important because we’re creating reasons for customers to think about Lazada.”

In the past several years, the popular e-commerce site has launched multiple formats such as live shows and games to engage with customers and enhance marketing opportunities. Lee says the success of some of these programs came from building wider interaction with the market.

In more developed e-commerce markets such as China, merchants are using various tools already to create a closer relationship with the consumers. This has given rise to the term “shoppertainment”. Such tactics seek to engage customers through an enjoyable and stimulating in-store shopping experience.

Lee says: “There is so much interaction now from something that was transactional before.”

With a seemingly endless stream of new tools emerging, retail stores can no longer depend on their brand’s homepage just being about transacting goods and services for money. For example, in China live streams have become a key component of engaging with customers and building a following.

Platforms such as Meipai and Tmall Live Streaming have been credited for increased sales for online shops. Additionally, the use of big data allows merchants to engage specifically with audiences in certain niches. This targeted engagement can help build success for digital marketing and create a stronger relationship with consumers.

Meanwhile, there is also a need to make it easier for consumers and merchants to find content and learn how to use the new tools available.

While efforts at raising awareness have previously focused on bringing content to consumers and merchants, e-commerce platform need to now move towards getting sellers to understand the importance of content engagement.

“You can’t teach people the specific steps to be creative, but you can tell them why it’s important,” Lee explains. “People need to jump on this and see how they can increase engagement and interaction of content and how to monetize.”

Alibaba Group, the parent company of Lazada, has been central to the booming growth of e-commerce and digital marketing in China. The group has been attempting to replicate its success in other countries. But it notes that customers’ shopping behaviors have been different across markets

This differentiation makes it a challenge to easily duplicate its success in China. Every country has its own trends and preferences. Also, in some cases, merchants have not been able to use the tools provided by the e-commerce giant properly.

“Without a suitable ecosystem, it’ll be hard to reach the full potential of the Alibaba platform. We need many of the entrepreneurs in the region to be a part of this ecosystem. Only by having strong support from partners and by getting feedback, can we fine-tune operations in various markets,” the spokesperson said.

For the meeting in the Malaysian capital, the Alibaba Business School Asian reunion brought together graduates from its eFounders fellowship and Alibaba Netpreneur Training Programs. The training programs are part of the Alibaba Group’s education effort to encourage and provide a launch pad to entrepreneurs from emerging markets.

The initiative aims to leverage the power of the digital economy to create economic development, according to the group. “We want to inspire entrepreneurs to create inclusive and sustainable digital ecosystems in their home countries and encourage collaborations across the region,” said Alibaba Group vice president Brian Wong.

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