Mega sales is a key occasion for marketers in Asia but Infobip’s Ruslana Reznikova writes that poor customer experience prevents marketers from effectively maximising it which is where AI can help. 

Shopping is in the DNA of Asia. According to Meta’s Seasonal Holidays Study, 83% of year-end shoppers in APAC made a purchase during a Mega Sale Day compared to the global average of 70%. However, economic headwinds have caused consumer caution to grow, with buyers becoming more price-conscious thanks to rising inflation and costs of living. Research from APAC Ayden 2023 Retail Report found that 36% of consumers in APAC opted to wait for big-ticket sale events, such as Singles’ Day or the year-end holiday shopping season. This is especially the case in Singapore, where two out of five shoppers delay purchases until they can get considerable discounts.

In a crowded marketplace, consumers are looking to be better rewarded for their loyalty and seek out personalized promotions to gain more value out of their purchases. Integrating omnichannel communication platforms means brands can use these peak shopping periods to build brand loyalty with consumers. Coupled with technologies such as AI chatbots and rich messaging apps, these channels allow brands to deliver faster and more personalised interactions with consumers, available 24/7 throughout the customer journey from onboarding to retention. It also allows brands to easily optimise perks ranging from personalised loyalty offers, product recommendations, and customer support at different points of the purchase process to drive conversion.

Yet, many brands and retailers struggle to achieve this during peak shopping seasons. Why?

Challenges in delivering consistent customer experiences

Organizations have adopted omnichannel communications, but the variety of touchpoints has created challenges in providing a seamless conversational experience. Integrating the different platforms across traditional and new channels has become increasingly complex.

More touchpoints have also resulted in a drastic increase in the volume of interactions, especially as consumers rush to complete their purchases in time to catch flash sales. So, businesses must find ways and resources to manage the large in-flow of queries from multiple sources to avoid falling short of providing the quick and personalised assistance customers expect.

This is made even more difficult with Gen Z shoppers getting increasing spending power and having higher expectations for services and features, viewing responsive customer support and personalised experiences as basic requirements of shopping experiences.

Starting with data and AI

Infobip’s Messaging Trends 2023 report showed a high uptake in messaging channels among customers, with a 2.5x growth in WhatsApp customer engagement in 2022 compared to 2021 enabling businesses to leverage popular features such as product catalogues, quick replies, and list messages to set up interactive promotional messaging.

This signals the rise of conversational commerce and reflects the shift in consumer demand toward rich, engaging, end-to-end experiences across various touchpoints. It is now of greater importance for retail and e-commerce brands to invest in customer data technology and AI to draw insights from communication, purchases, feedback and more to build a greater understanding of their customers, which can enable better and more informed business decisions.

AI comes in handy for businesses in automating the collection and processing of data from various channels, identifying consumption patterns and trends in customer data and segmenting customers based on a deep, systematic understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviours. With such capabilities at their fingertips, brands can capitalise on strong purchase intentions during peak shopping seasons to target marketing and product offerings and to personalise the customer experience with product recommendations and customer support that are more consistent across different touchpoints.

This hyper-personalisation of experiences and communication improves customer satisfaction and builds brand loyalty.

The future of commerce is enabled by AI

In the coming years, APAC will see growth in automation and hybrid customer experiences backed by AI. To stay ahead of the game, brands need to embrace conversational commerce, optimise their omnichannel customer communication platforms, and start understanding their customers through data. If peak shopping is here to stay in APAC, preparing for this via these technologies is key to growth.

Peak shopping seasons can be a stressful time for shoppers and retailers alike. Introducing new capabilities, automation, personalised campaigns, and digital-physical interactions enabled by AI and innovations will allow brands to stay on top of consumer demands. It will also put customers at the centre of the experience, by turning peak shopping seasons into successful key moments to build brand loyalty.