Key lessons for South East Asian retailers ahead of 9/9 Super Shopping Day

Brands matter and developing brands takes time.

Super shopping days are not a new phenomenon in retail. After all, for decades Americans have been queueing outside of big box stores on Black Friday, the first official shopping day before Christmas, and the National Retail Federation says 165m people took advantage of related deals over that weekend in 2018.

More recently, China’s Singles Day (11/11) has grown dramatically. Originally launched as a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day, Singles Day drove $30.8bn in sales for Alibaba in 2018.

In South East Asia, online ecommerce platform Shopee has successfully established a Super Shopping Day for the region on September 9 (9/9). According to the company, more than 5.8m orders were placed in 2018, and the event was supported by 7m sellers through the platform.

Like Singles Day, 9/9 originated as a project of a single retail platform company and has gradually been embraced by major retailers and leading brands across the region. If you are looking for ways to capitalize on the 9/9 super shopping day, consider these six lessons from the 2018 season.

It’s about more than “pile it high and sell it low”

9/9 is absolutely an event-driven by hot deals in a variety of categories. But Shopee and other companies in the region have made this (almost) as much an entertainment event as it is a mega sale. Last year, for example, Shopee hired celebs from across the region to personally deliver purchases to shoppers and filmed their amazed faces for a Facebook Live broadcast.

This focus on the entertainment value of the event mirrors what has happened with other such shopping holidays. That’s a winning strategy that has been a part of the success of both Singles Day and Black Friday.

Big growth comes from smart promotion

While this event began with the efforts of a single platform, 9/9 is driving big dividends for a host of players across the industry, from the 7 million sellers on Shopee to the various partners that drive traffic and sales for the event. Price comparison platform iPrice and leading coupon site Cuponation have both reported strong 9/9 results, with significantly above-normal uptake of offers and incentives on the growing holiday.

Don’t think cookie-cutter

Every mega-shopping event has its own personality, and the best merchants capitalize on those nuances. To avoid shopping fatigue, one needs to treat each of these events differently by shaping offers and messaging to the key events happening at similar times, like back-to-school sales.

As more and more as shoppers become attuned to the schedule of these mega promotions, they are changing shopping behaviors dramatically. To get the best results, retail programs need to look and feel distinct and capitalize on consumer needs.

Brands with more limited resources would also do well to prioritize the events that can deliver most for their businesses, and then try to ride the tide of the others.

Partnerships can be valuable for 9/9

Partnerships is an extremely powerful tool for retail and promotion in SEA, and should be an important part of any effort to get the most revenue out of the 9/9 event. Partners give brands credibility, and ensure that brand offers are available when they are most likely to sway customers.

With literally millions of sellers vying for transactions on 9/9, partner marketing can help a brand cost-effectively maximize their brand presence and sales impact across the region. Consider both classic affiliate partner types, and other types of partnerships, like influencers and loyalty partners. A multi-pronged effort can yield great results.

Brands matter and developing brands takes time

Retail and digital are incredibly dynamic in SEA. Literally millions of people come online for the first time every week. This is all great news for both new and established businesses trying to attract first time buyers and grow customer loyalty.

Understand, though, that creating brand meaning and loyalty takes time and resources. Partnerships are a great resource here, as they offer a way to amplify limited resources on a performance basis. But partnerships aside, think about 9/9 as one of the many opportunities you will pursue to drive more growth and customer loyalty.

This is a mobile-first holiday

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone how important is mobile readiness for the partnerships industry in SEA. Sure, consumers can make purchases on PCs on 9/9, but the vast majority of the web traffic for the region is mobile and is dominated by Android devices.

Optimized mobile shopping experiences are critical every day in the region. But on 9/9, traffic demands and the need to reduce shopping friction make mobile-optimized shopping experiences especially critical.

In summary, 9/9 is a growing phenomenon, and many retailers would do well to participate. By focusing on these simple principles, they can dramatically improve their odds of success.

Kelly Guerin is the customer success director for APAC at Partnerize

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