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Marketing Brand Safety Brand Strategy

APAC marketers get ready, contextual commerce is coming

By Amit Bapna | APAC editor-at-large

December 13, 2022 | 8 min read

As e-commerce evolves and matures and shoppers become smarter and savvier, what will be the next big trend in digital commerce? The Drum sat down with Mohammed Sirajuddeen, commerce lead (growth markets) for Accenture Song to find out more about trends that will define the category in 2023 and beyond.

A peep into the future of e-commerce

A peep into the future of e-commerce

The "inevitable" arrival of contextual commerce

The emergence of highly personalised one-stop shopping experiences that are integrated into everyday living and facilitated by automation.

That is the future of digital commerce, according to Accenture Song’s commerce lead for growth markets, Mohammed Sirajuddeen.

Contextual commerce is the result of mixing 2022's buzzwords together: AI, data modelling, blockchain, 5G, and the metaverse. Sirajuddeen says the rapid adoption of these technologies has made the increased interactions between businesses and their customers "inevitable".

Backed by emerging technologies and rapidly evolving consumer needs, contextual commerce sees products become channels for identifying needs and context and providing additional services to consumers.

Demystifying the contextual commerce shopper

The rise of contextual commerce will result in three new consumer types: Mirrored Consumers, Curators, and Collectives, each of which will require a unique strategy for marketers, according to Sirajuddeen.

“Mirrored Consumers are comprehensive digital versions of consumers with their likes and dislikes aggregated into a unique profile. Curators are akin to technology agents working alone or with humans to help consumers achieve desired outcomes, including product and service recommendations tailored to an individual’s preferences.”

The third type, Collectives, are consumers who group buy and join collectives to either use products and services in new ways or enjoy purchase discounts.

For brand marketers, the emergence of these cohorts has immense significance, as it requires new marketing strategies and methods. Businesses, too, must re-examine their systems and prepare for hyper-personalisation at scale, which may mean re-tooling for mass customisation. Businesses would also need to enable digital threads that track how products and services are used throughout their lifecycle to predict and cater to new demands.

The other significant shift, according to Sirajuddeen, will require a rethink of businesses' approach to data, privacy and security. “Trust becomes the new currency on the back of data privacy, helping the brands to get rid of concerns around security and privacy.”

Companies need a "mindset makeover"

Companies often define themselves by their industry, drawing comparisons with peers that offer similar products and pursue similar goals - many businesses take pride in being labelled an ‘industry leader.’ However, Sirajuddeen argues it is time to abandon this thinking, “It has never been a better time to shed the boundaries of industry and find new, creative ways to apply technology and talent to solve new problems.”

He cites the example of ride-sharing apps, which expanded from connecting people with cars to offering scooters, motorbikes, bicycles, food deliveries, product orders and more – all backed by the belief “that they saw themselves as competition not just for taxis but for any point-to-point movement of people and goods.”

The shift here is about the entire journey, he adds. “From being not just a technology update; but a mindset makeover that brings creativity into the boardroom to seize opportunities for value creation, growth, and relevance in the process.”

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Unique trends of the Asia-Pacific markets

The technological changes are global, but they are also impacting markets differently, depending on their respective lifecycles, as well as their unique regional nuances. Sirajuddeen shares the key trends for APAC:

Rise of Metaverse: Across the Asia Pacific region, brands are taking advantage of the rise of the metaverse. According to Gartner, 25% of people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026, with usage rates to grow significantly after that. “The interesting trend here is for brands to continue navigating the metaverse while retaining a footprint in the physical world and working in ensuring unified experiences," says Sirajuddeen.

  • Thailand’s largest mobile operator Advanced Info Services (AIS), opened a virtual shopping mall, V-Avenue, letting users browse over 200 shops and attracting some two million unique visitors.

  • Alibaba Group is deepening the metaverse shopping experience with its luxury shopping platform, Tmall Luxury Pavilion, with an AR fashion show and also introducing a Meta Pass, which confers priority digital access to brands’ products from Burberry to Bogner.

Rise of Social commerce: This subset of commerce has been showing very high growth surpassing physical stores to become Southeast Asia's second most popular shopping format, points out Sirajuddeen. From social media scrolling to playing mobile games, consumers can now buy anything, anywhere and at any time.

  • KFC China gamified the buying experience by allowing consumers to order from their friend's social stores on WeChat and pick up their food at a nearby physical store. This meant that consumers need not exit WeChat to order a takeaway.
  • TikTok has been expanding its e-commerce marketplace in Asia to allow users to make purchases while scrolling through the platform.

The India growth story

In the region, India remains one of the most exciting opportunities for digital commerce, particularly as the China economy slows amid the ongoing uncertainty. India already has more than 600 million internet users, and this figure is expected to grow to 900 million by 2025. “Within the APAC region, India is strongly positioned for retail transformation and growth with a huge focus on digital payments as well as increased digitalization in the B2B commerce space," says Sirajuddeen.

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