Marketers in Asia have a significant opportunity to improve performance in e-commerce, according to a regional specialist.

In an interview with WARC, Harshal Acharya, Head of Consulting for Edge – an e-commerce readiness and analytics company – in Asia Pacific, cautioned that the current strategies being adopted are not sustainable.

“In the developing markets for e-commerce – the Asian markets and India – everyone is now focused on driving promos,” he said.

“That’s why a lot of consumers are seeing value in buying on these platforms,” he explained – “because they see it being cheaper than what they would see it on the shelf on a store.”

That can’t be a long-term play, but it does help get people comfortable with the idea of e-commerce. “It’s more about, at this point in time, changing the habits of someone who actually is going to the shop to get online and purchase there.”

In this context Acharya proposes a four-step system to determine the level of e-commerce readiness a company has in any particular territory. (For more, read WARC’s report: Four steps to e-commerce readiness: crawl, walk, run, fly.)

A lot of the industry is in the crawl or walk stage at this point in time, Acharya says, either still figuring out where e-commerce sits within their sales strategy or having defined an e-commerce strategy but not yet integrated this into the wider company strategy.

Data is the crucial element, with crawl-stage businesses not collecting this systematically or using it effectively; in a walk-stage business, however, e-commerce data is being captured, analysed and actioned.

Moving from walk to run, analytics starts getting more granular and more informative: “not just about price and promo, we’re now talking about doing specific promotion analysis to optimise the promotion: which promotions are working, which promotions are not working, which ones should you run more, which ones should be run less, what is the competition looking like,” said Acharya.

By the time a business enters the fly stage, “data is not only getting captured automatically, but there’s enough machine learning applied on it for that information and data to be passed on to the right people in the organisation to act on.

“It becomes accurate and real-time.”

Sourced from WARC