Lazada, arguably the most dynamic e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, is scaling up rapidly following US$4 billion in investment from Alibaba since 2016.
In line with its backer, the platform has adopted a more competitive online events strategy while strengthening relationships with brands and sellers.
What’s the planning process behind Lazada’s online retail events?
A lot starts from creative conceptualisation. We try to get sellers to participate in our campaigns through bundles, discounts and flash deals. As a marketplace, we rely a lot on what the brands offer, we manage around 350 brands. There’s the humdrum of managing budgets as we pick the channels we want to market on, which are typically the online channels. We go through social media and do search marketing, and of course, we do a lot of KOL engagement.
A lot of work pre-campaign and on the actual event day is getting the info out and conveying the unique selling propositions (USP). Real-time, we do a lot of social activities using live stream. For example, on the first day, say our USP is 300 flash views, you would know on the day of the launch which hours this flash news comes on, and what are some of the brands and price points customers are looking at.
How does Lazada capitalise on the experiential trend?
We found a partner in CapitaLand [Singapore-based real estate company]. We signed an MoU that’s going to take us through three years where we’ll collaborate on omnichannel for both of us.
Throughout the year, we have planned activities to be present at malls. And on the other hand, for the malls to help communicate to their customers to shop on Lazada.
So in that respect, we’re trying to look to brand activations where the stores that are already present in physical spaces can do a lot of engagement and drive traffic. We’re trying to build that ecosystem.
How do you manage brand relationships?
We build stores for brands in the ecosystem and allow them to engage the customers themselves. We built an instant messaging tool where the brands can communicate with the customers directly and vice versa. We have built-in tools like a business advisor where they can look at the performance of certain products. They can also get real-time sales data of what’s being sold on their page.
They’re able to create vouchers, send out push notifications to customers who follow their store, post lifestyle images, and to work with KOLs with us. It’s a symbiotic relationship that we’ve built with both KOLs and the brands.
We are definitely looking to empower brands to do more than sell, as they’re also investing in our tech infrastructure. In terms of how competitor brands are levelling themselves, it’s the same in the physical retail space. Next to Laneige you probably have L’Oréal.
How do you measure the success of online events?
Very effectively, it’s all about sales. It’s very numbers-driven. One of our metrics is also visits to our site and frequency of users.
In terms of regional applications, it’s more about strategy and getting information about different markets. The expertise of learning the local culture and nuances of the people is very different from market to market, especially in Southeast Asia.
How has the Alibaba investment changed Lazada’s marketing strategy?
Alibaba has played a significant role in levelling us up. A lot of what they’ve done since they’ve invested is help us level up our tech, creating tools that are not just great for our sellers but also strong for our consumers to get on-board. We launched ‘Shaking News’, for instance. It’s a game where you basically shake the app and get a voucher.
Does Lazada foresee diversifying its event format in the future?
If you look at what Alibaba has been doing successfully in China—they’re creating offline experiences like no other. They’re creating virtual spaces or spaces in malls where customers can interact with augmented reality.
They have virtual changing rooms where customers can select their lipstick colour and buy off the rack. Or when they walk into a store and try on a pair of jeans, and the store is out of stock, they can just scan the QR code, and the correct size will be delivered to their home.
Looking simplistically, we really just want to simplify the journey in the customer loop when someone walks into a retail mall and thinks about they’re looking for. And a lot of this is based on data that we have that can help us grow.
If you could pick one dream tech trend that you’d like to see Lazada incorporate, what would it be?
VR would be very interesting. What we basically do now is create a screen for people to interact with brands, it’s a carousel, it’s a list, it’s an inventory. You choose, you search, you filter. But in a VR space, customers are able to put on goggles and enter a realm where we can populate the environment with brands they want to interact with.
If you’re thinking of buying a home, for instance, you can tell us your style and brands you’re interested in. And lo and behold, we’ll put up sofas and lamps and bedsheets and you can swatch out the colours or interact with products immediately on the spot.
And obviously, you can transact and get anything you see in the room that you like or swipe away things that you don’t like. At the moment, Instagram shopping is a 2D representation of this.