It is 9pm in Singapore, but the team in charge of Shopee Live is still working hard to ensure the live streaming feature that enables Shopee's ambassadors, sellers and brands to interact and engage with users in real-time, is running smoothly.
“As a company, our aim is to provide the best online shopping experience for all our users,” Tiger Wang, the head of marketing for Singapore at Shopee, tells The Drum as we watch the hosts of the live stream segment play a game of hangman with the unseen online audience.
“All business units in Shopee work tirelessly towards this goal — the different functional teams under the marketing umbrella, including the creative and production teams, work together to employ highly localised strategies and create content that is relevant to, and can resonate with our local users.”
On a day to day basis, Shopee’s 50-strong in-house marketing teams work together to drive an integrated and 360-degree marketing approach to engage users effectively across all channels, including social media and offline channels.
This includes Shopee's latest shopping and entertainment strategy, Shopee Live. The live game of hangman, for example, is designed to integrate the personalised and social element of live interactive entertainment into the platform, and deliver an integrated shopping experience for users.
The teams also activate offline channels to further boost visibility and maximise awareness. For example, for Shopee’s advertisement for the upcoming 11.11 sale which features the famous Cristiano Ronaldo, the ad is currently being aired in cinemas and elevators in office buildings and shopping malls across the country.
Shopee has also rolled out several out-of-home initiatives such as full-sized advertisements featuring Cristiano Ronaldo on buses, bus shelters, taxis and train platforms.
“The team also engages with top local influencers extensively to amplify our sale campaigns. For example, we are currently working with top local influencers Naomi Neo, Jianhao Tan, Soh Pei Shi and more to promote the upcoming 11.11 sale,” adds Wang.
As the annual 11.11 sale rolls around again, the pressure is on Shopee’s in-house marketing teams to deliver and up its game as rivals like Lazada spend more and introduce more features to gamify the e-commerce experience.
Recently released data from Criteo has revealed that 11.11 is still Singapore’s largest shopping festival, amongst other festivals such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and 12.12. The sales festival in the country saw a 368% increase in online retail sales and a 255% increase in online retail traffic in 2018.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam, 11.11 is still amongst the most dominant festival.
This is when the decision to in-house marketing, creative and production work, instead of outsourcing it to agencies, pays off, as it allows Shopee to respond faster and be more nimble in the extremely fast-paced world of e-commerce across the multiple South East Asian markets it is operating in.
Wang says the marketing team goes out in full force to prepare for the 11.11 campaign, noting that the various marketing functions, including public relations, social media and partnerships, start their preparation months ahead of the campaign.
He claims Shopee’s 11.11 sale this year will be its “biggest shopping event ever” as it will feature an upsized and improved collection of non-stop promotions, including the return of the highly-popular themed days, new in-app games and more.
“Since the beginning, all our creative content and assets have been developed in-house by local teams,” Wang says.
“This enables us to better cater to the needs of our users in each market. Each market has a different app, which enables us to create hyper-localised user experiences through nimble marketing campaigns that directly target local cultural nuances.”
He adds: “For instance, in celebration of Singapore’s 54th birthday earlier this year, we paid tribute to the iconic Singaporean phrase “mee siam mai hum” with an adaptation of Shopee Slice. Users were challenged to avoid the hums and slice as many limes, tau poks and eggs to win Shopee Coins and brand-dedicated vouchers.”
Building in-house marketing capabilities means finding the right talent and culture is critical at Shopee, Wang says, taking pains to highlight that people are Shopee’s most important assets.
He claims Shopee is a firm believer in equal opportunity and inclusivity, as the company places a strong emphasis on growth and development in the workplace and beyond by striving to understand the needs of its workforce and provide ample opportunities for personal development as well.
“Our team in each market is made up of local talent, and we have taken an aggressive recruiting stance as we were competing against much more established companies,” says Wang.
“From the design of our office space to internal welfare and team-building activities, Shopee has successfully built a strong collaborative and supportive culture among all our employees, which attracts like-minded individuals who embrace and identify with this culture. When employees feel proud to be part of the company, they create a positive impression on new candidates through word-of-mouth, which helps to amplify the Shopee brand and attract more like-minded individuals.”
He continues: “Talent development is core to our people strategy and we strongly believe in supporting the growth and development of our employees. We have invested heavily in building our learning and development approach through the founding of Shopee Academy, our training institute. Building Shopee’s learning and development programme have allowed us to bring in a fresh talent pool and train our workforce to become one of the key tenets of the business."
Wang adds that initiatives such as detailed onboarding programmes, structured training roadmaps, career development, and internal and external training courses, are tailored to each employee’s job scope and level. This allows them to understand the entire organisation and the relevance of their role within the ecosystem.
Despite building an in-house team, Wang says he does not see companies like Shopee with in-house capabilities ultimately becoming competitors to agencies and consultancies.
A recent study from Infectious Media found that 59% of global chief marketing officers plan to bring more media functions in-house in 2020. Of this group, 27% are intent on carrying on their own programmatic buying, while a further 17% are set to in-house media buying.
For Shopee, it sees the agencies it does work with as an extension of its in-house teams. As of now, the only agency it works with on a retainer basis is public relations firm AKA Asia.
“With the e-commerce landscape being a fast-moving and ever-changing one, we work hand-in-hand with agencies and consultancies collaboratively, adapt quickly, and foresee problems before they arise, so that we can stay ahead of the competition and ultimately deliver the best shopping experience for our users, sellers and partners alike,” he adds.
As Shopee turns five in 2020, Shopee’s in-house approach will ensure its highly localized strategy and a user-centric approach remain at the forefront of its approach to consumers.