Masaya Ueno, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rakuten Online Shopping
In the next year and beyond, we expect the rapid development of the e-commerce sector to continue, driven by three key trends as below:
1) Growing consumer expectations
One of the biggest trends that we have seen this year is that while people enjoy shopping online in Asia, their overall satisfaction rate with online shopping is relatively low. The Rakuten Smart Shopping Survey, released in October 2013, showed that the majority of Asian online shoppers are generally dissatisfied with their purchases. Only 29 per cent of Malaysian respondents were satisfied with goods they purchased online in the last 12 months. The remaining 71 per cent claimed to have regretted their buys, often due to mismatched expectations. The study also found that over three-quarters (76 per cent) of Malaysian respondents never or rarely interact with merchants during the online shopping process. Meanwhile, less than a quarter of shoppers even bother to complete their online purchases. In the coming year, retailers will need to “up the ante” and focus on delivering the most engaging, rich and personalised customer experience. If retailers want to stay competitive, they will need to focus on making it as easy as possible for customers to locate and purchase exactly what they want.
2) Multi-channel shopping
With the increasing proliferation of mobile shopping, customers will be looking for a synchronised shopping experience across multiple channels. This year, we have seen a significant increase in our customers’ use of mobile devices, with 20 to 40 per cent of our daily transactions coming from a mobile device. Be it a retail outlet, mobile app, or online website, retailers need to ensure that customers are able to browse, locate, and purchase products with ease, anytime and anywhere. From a retailers perspective, providing a cohesive shopping experience will ensure that they stay one step ahead of the customers’ expectations.
3) Making use of big data
There is a wealth of data available out there, and 2014 will see marketers and retailers making full use of it. From analysing customer’s shopping behaviour to predicting upcoming retail trends, big data will enable retailers to focus their efforts on providing each customer with personalised and effective product suggestions and offers. Rakuten Malaysia’s focus in 2014 is on fulfilment of orders and transactions, and we can definitely see how big data will come into play here. We are looking to improve our processes by improving tracking of shipped goods, better vendor management, automated product sourcing, and personalising the supply chain—all through big data.
As we look towards the coming year, it is important to recognise that changing consumer behaviour and needs will require flexibility and adaptability on the retailer’s part. Online businesses need to remain competitive and innovative in keeping their customers loyal, especially in an increasingly complex retail environment.
From a market perspective, the prospects are positive with Asia reportedly set to lead e-commerce growth globally with an expected 27.5 percent increase over 2012, reaching US$323.1 billion, according to Goldman Sachs. Rakuten Malaysia is optimistic about 2014 as we see increasing adoption and growth in e-commerce, online payment, and digital content businesses in the market. Malaysia’s online shopping market is expected to grow at an accelerated pace from RM842 million [US$256.20 million] in 2011, and according to Euromonitor, the number is expected to exceed RM1.72 billion [US$0.52 billion] by 2017.