Digital commerce can transcend borders, but for businesses looking to expand into international markets, local partnerships and campaigns are still key. The Drum speaks to retailer iHerb about how about it is growing its presence in Asia Pacific.
Health retailer iHerb, which ships vitamins and supplements around the globe, is an American firm. But Asia Pacific, a region with strong demand for US-made goods, is a key region for the business’ growth, and already boasts one of its highest penetration rates. In a difficult year for business growth, expanding from California across the Pacific could be a crucial move.
Ed Hsu, affiliate and partnerships manager, at iHerb says the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked an increase in demand for nutritional supplements, with consumers hoping to boost their overall health and wellness.
To cope with this growth in demand, it is working with Singapore-based e-commerce platform ShopBack to drive sales by sharing part of its commission revenue to users, in the form of cashback.
The cashback savings provide additional incentives for customers to shop from, and build loyalty with, iHerb. At the same time, it also ensures that iHerb marketing investments are effective in driving quality traffic and conversions through a cost-per-sale model.
“We are also able to drive customer acquisition through ShopBack’s targeting capabilities and new ShopBack Challenges feature, whereby users can complete specific tasks or challenges set by ShopBack to receive bonus cashback and other attractive rewards,” explains Hsu.
“For instance, we collaborated with ShopBack to run a challenge for users in Singapore whereby they would receive a cashback bonus if they made a purchase on iHerb for the first time – it was well received, and over 1,000 users completed the ’challenge’.”
The supplements platform has also run themed campaigns on ShopBack such as its ’Health Essentials Campaign’, held in February 2020, and seasonal campaigns aligned to Chinese New Year, Ramadan and 11.11.
In addition, iHerb has worked with ShopBack to drive product discovery of its key brands such as California Gold Nutrition, Neutrogena, MuscleTech and Aveeno, through exclusive discounts and tactical upsized cashback promotions.
Keith Foo, head of merchant solutions at ShopBack, explains that as e-commerce spending has increased during the pandemic, ShopBack has in turn rolled out new features such as a product comparison tool, vouchers, and the Challenges.
“We have noticed the trend of brands increasingly spending their advertising dollars on marketplaces such as Shopee and Lazada, as they want to capture a larger share of voice and reach out to more potential customers,” he adds.
“ShopBack has deepened its partnerships and teamed up with the leading marketplaces on an Affiliate Marketing Solutions program. This enables brands (especially those without a dedicated e-store) to list their marketplace stores directly on ShopBack, thereby further extending their reach to a new group of shoppers and driving sales.”
In Singapore and the Philippines, ShopBack ran campaigns encouraging users to ’#supportlocal’ by purchasing online from local grocery stores such as Fairprice and Metromart, as well as promoting local restaurants through food delivery services such as Foodpanda and Uber Eats.
The health, household and food categories were ShopBack’s top categories during Singapore’s Enhanced Community Quarantine, growing by more than 90% compared to 2019, says Foo.
To ensure that iHerb and ShopBack’s messaging are aligned and objectives are met, both e-commerce players are shifting their focus towards building an app-to-app experience, partially integrating both retailers’s shopping apps.
The partnership will allow iHerb to tap into ShopBack’s group of influencers and brand ambassadors, especially in countries like Australia. Back in Singapore, the ShopBack team has also featured iHerb’s products and promotions during their livestream events.
ShopBack previously collaborated with Night Owl Cinematics, JianHao Tann, Xiaxue in Singapore, as well as local celebrity Martha Kalifatidis and reality TV star Abbie Chatfield in Australia.
“Generally speaking, influencer partnerships are important to us to reach out to a broader audience and with the ShopBack partnership, it helps us reach a new audience. This could definitely be a focus for us in 2021 if the opportunity presents itself,” explains Hsu.
Content-to-commerce partnerships are set to become the mainstay of marketers’ plans in 2021, as the likes of SGAG and Lazada have previously formed a livestream commerce partnership.