SINGAPORE: Mobile commerce and in-store technology integration are two of the trends set to shape retail in Asia for 2018, as the region’s shoppers embrace shopping via smartphone.

The shopping habits of consumers in Asia are markedly different from their counterparts in other regions, according to Jake Shepherd, GfK's head of retail in Asia Pacific. (For more, read WARC’s exclusive report: Five Asian retail trends for 2018.)

The popularity of smartphones for shopping is growing: 71% of consumers in the region use their smartphones to help them shop, versus the 59% of all global shoppers.

"The portability of smartphones is becoming the most important thing. For the first time, shopping doesn't have to just be at home. It doesn't just have to be in the office. You literally can shop anytime anywhere and at any place as well," Shepherd said at the New Retail Asia event in Singapore recently.

Two markets in particular stand out: Indonesia, where 76% of shoppers shop using their smartphones, and China, where 90% of shoppers do the same.

"The smartphone is huge in the region. Indonesia is slightly different to China in that many people actually don't start their online shopping on a desktop or a laptop at home, they've gone straight to smartphone because of the high penetration," Shepherd noted.

Despite the mobile boom, traditional retail formats still play an important role in the region, with technology integrations offering exciting opportunities.

"It can't just be about mobile. It has to be about what happens in-store as well," said Shepherd.

Smart kiosks and augmented reality are two solutions: "This is really how the retailers are starting to make that jump between having something on mobile and having something activated in-store," he said.

Other advantages of in-store technology include reduced stock-holding in the store and supply chain; likewise, virtual and augmented reality can drive in-store footfall.

"In general, (consumers) want to be entertained. Shopping at times is not always a time of experience. It can be quite dull. If you make it exciting, the more people are going to like coming into the store.”

Sourced from WARC