How Ninja Van has capitalized on the rise of e-commerce in South East Asia
As part of The Drum’s latest Deep Dive – Marketing Secrets of Fast-Growth Brands – we look at Ninja Van’s phenomenal rise in South East Asia.
Launched in 2014 as a tech-enabled logistics company and headquartered in Singapore, Ninja Van has become a leader in the regional logistics space, known for creating visibility and reliability across the entire parcel journey process.
Building on this solid foundation, the company has seen steady growth over the years, thanks also to the growth in e-commerce and rising internet penetration across South East Asia.
Winston Seow, chief of marketing and enablement officer at Ninja Van, says shifts in consumer behavior brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in an overall increase in parcel deliveries, with more people starting to shop online and existing online shoppers buying more.
“Businesses have also seen their priorities shift, with many investing more in online retail as opposed to selling through physical stores and looking at supply chain management solutions to mitigate disruption risks caused by the pandemic,” he explains.
“These conditions have presented Ninja Van with growth opportunities and we have made investments in infrastructure to boost our operational capabilities, but also in the expansion of new areas of growth including supply chain solutions – such as procurement, financing, warehousing and fulfillment – that help business owners build more robust supply chains.”
Focus on marketing and branding
As a young company, Ninja Van’s success was built upon investments in its operations and technology, allowing the company to scale the business. In addition, its investments in marketing have helped to power that growth even further.
“Think of it as doing the right things at the right time to maximize the probability of success. We now run our regional marketing teams as a Center of Excellence (CoE) function to drive consistencies in the local markets and, more importantly, develop regional assets, know-how and marketing tech to benefit the local marketing teams,” explains Seow.
“As e-commerce is growing significantly there will always be more customers for our business. We need to continue to invest in marketing to ensure our brand stays top of mind when it is the right time for them to make a decision.”
While there are many different ways of interpreting what makes for a hassle-free delivery experience, Seow says the overarching brand proposition is simple – to provide a frictionless delivery experience and efficient resolution of issues for businesses of all sizes across SEA.
He explains acquisition does not come without an accepted brand or product, so depending on how Ninja Van is perceived in each market, it tweaks its strategy based on the identified needs. More importantly, he says Ninja Van believes in taking a “right channel, right audience” approach, and using the right mix of touchpoints and channels to engage with its intended audiences.
“For example, [for] the recent launch of our self-serve mobile app called Ninja Van Biz, Vietnam was the first market we launched it in. For this launch, we targeted social commerce sellers to ride on the high smartphone penetration rate in Vietnam. With the self-serve app, sellers can seamlessly manage their orders in a breeze, freeing their time to focus on other business areas,” he explains.
“We plan to do a subsequent roll-out of the app across all markets, but closely monitor and take into account how each country’s unique cultural nuances and user habits impact the user experience and performance.
“There is also no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to acquisition or retention, so the ‘Effortless’ branding campaign with BlkJ Havas that we have just rolled out hopes to further cement our brand’s proposition through a broad mix of methods and channels. In a tongue-in-cheek manner, this campaign positions Ninja Van as a drama-free logistics company that can effectively manage parcel issues, allowing shippers to enjoy a seamless and effortless delivery experience.”
At the end of the day, Ninja Van’s marketing is to ensure there is a consistent messaging and tone across all touchpoints, bearing in mind the cultural nuances in each market.
For example, based on maturity levels and consumer behaviors, what works for its brand messaging in Indonesia might not work for our brand in Vietnam, and vice versa.
That means Seow’s team at Ninja Van has to come up with bespoke proposals and strategies that add value. More importantly, it is also focusing on ways to bring to life its brand in a more authentic way to build trust with everyone who interacts with Ninja Van.
“A team without passion is no team at all, so we’re really lucky to have a company that understands how important it is to build a strong culture and continually invest in our talents. The marketing team is made up of a group of passionate people who are given the autonomy to find new, inventive solutions to keep our brand fresh and relevant,” he explains.
“As a CoE function, the team aims to drive better value creation between both local and regional teams and makes sure standards are well-defined throughout all touchpoints. This team of dedicated individuals is split into branding and digital marketing, and act as subject matter experts who can be leveraged where and when [they are] needed, based on their specific skills and experience relevant to project needs.”
The road ahead
Having landed $578m in funding in 2021, Seow says the funds will be used for various initiatives, including tactical and strategic marketing.
This includes driving positive mindshare among its talent acquisition teams in the markets it operates in and taking stock of its creative assets that can be shared in markets for consistency in quality and positioning.
In addition, Ninja Van will also use the money to invest in its marketing systems to drive higher effectiveness and cost efficiencies in markets, as well as investing in its people to drive even better opportunities and growth.
“The pandemic has disrupted supply chains and this has created opportunities for us to explore and develop new areas of our business, particularly in the upstream supply chain side of our business. As modern supply chains continue to expand, they can become more complex for merchants, both new and old, so Ninja Van aims to continuously enhance our customer service experience by building an ecosystem that enables easier access to quality logistics services across the supply chain,” explains Seow.
“With customers increasingly making their purchases on social commerce such as Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok, businesses are focusing more on their retail strategy online as opposed to selling through a physical store. Ninja Van will work to help these businesses grow, compete and succeed by providing training and resources on how to increase online sales.”
He adds: “The rise of online stores and e-commerce is amplifying and redefining logistics around the world. Customer’s overall expectations will only get higher so our teams are constantly brainstorming how we can deliver differentiated experiences to not only provide more value to our customers but more delightful experiences too.”