Embracing e-commerce amid the pandemic
Increasing need for businesses to capture online opportunities, boost digital capabilities
7 Aug 2020 | Darryl Yu

As Covid-19 continues to spread throughout the globe, concerns over social distancing and prolonged lockdowns have forced businesses to re-evaluate how they engage with their customers. Already several businesses with retail services are looking at either improving or deploying e-commerce strategies to maintain their revenues despite reduced foot traffic.

The pivot to online can be stressful at times with businesses facing questions around strategy and execution. To make the most of this e-commerce move, businesses need to adhere to a few simple guiding principles to get their online services off the ground.

One is flexibility, particularly when it involves digital payment options. While credit cards have been the norm when it comes to conducting online payments, companies looking to attract additional customers online should consider adding other payments methods. Adhering to the local digital payment networks like Thailand’s Promptpay or to e-wallets like Alipay or WeChat Pay will make your e-commerce platform easier to use.

“When it comes to that all-important payment experience, it’s critical to have checkout flows that feel invisible for digital natives, yet inspire trust for those late-adopters,” states a report from PPRO, an e-payments services provider.

In addition, companies that are already doing e-commerce transactions should look at their internal data and examine the reasons why potential customers have abandoned using their online platform to make purchases.

For instance, a survey of online consumers across Europe by B2C Europe found that 40% of consumers had stopped purchasing online due to high shipping costs, while another 20% cited the non-availability of their preferred payment method. Other reasons included slow websites and security concerns. However, some of these concerns can be addressed through the use of data, which can eventually boost online transaction conversion rates.

Digital opportunity is particularly bright for companies operating in Asia, which already has the largest e-commerce market in the world. The region accounted for more than half of global e-commerce activity in 2019, according to data from Statista. And, with markets like China, India and Indonesia expected to cement that growth in the coming years, the overall Asian e-commerce industry in 2024 is predicted to be worth US$1.92 trillion.

“Although Asia already accounts for 57.4% of the global e-commerce market in 2019, its share will only get bigger,” states an Eastspring Investments research note. “Robust logistics networks, a rising middle class, improving financial infrastructure, and rapid innovation will fuel Asia’s e-commerce revenues, which will, in turn, drive GDP growth, productivity, and economic inclusion in the region.”

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