Retail set for tech transformation

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 09:30

Clients shop for goods at AEON MALL Long Bien in Ha Noi. - VNS Photo Thai Ha

Viet Nam’s retail sector is anticipating significant changes, driven by a technology boom, in people’s spending and shopping habits, experts said at the Forbes Talks on retail development on Thursday.

At the event in Ha Noi, Ralf Matthaes, founder of Infocus Mekong Research, said technology is seen as 2017’s greatest growth opportunity as consumers crave connectivity via personal gadgets, promulgating the shift from traditional to digital marketing.

“This year will be defined by stability in confidence and spending and a continued digital boom,” Matthaes said. “Digital will be the new way to reach consumers.”

Trinh Lan Phuong, CEO of baby product retail chain Bibomart, expressed concerns that the Vietnamese retail industry is struggling with challenges such as shortage in talent, technology platform and management capacity.

Traditional retail will have to make a great effort to catch up with rapid development in technology, which is changing the entire retail industry,” Phuong said.

Traditional businesses should use omni-channel marketing and prepare for a sharing economy model, she said.

Omni-channel marketing, a multichannel approach to sales that provides customer a seamless shopping experience, is a critical step that brick-and-mortar retailers must take to survive and grow in the digital age.

Ngo Quoc Bao, director of business development and e-commerce Department of FPT Digital Retail, said that selecting only one centralised platform for business has the high risk of losing out on potential customers.

Selling through one channel might fail to reach a generation that is online, will mean a lack of instant response, and lead to restrictions of geographical proximity.

“Omni-channel retailing will focus on customers. Customers want convenience. They want the item they have decided on for less money and fast,” Bao said.

Statistics show that 92.2 per cent of all purchases are still made in stores, Bao said. “However, digital interactions are increasingly influencing sales,” he said, citing that 49 per cent of store purchases were influenced by digital interactions, and 57 per cent of those interactions were on the mobile phone.

In Vietnamese market, for consumer electronics products, for example, 63 per cent of users do their research online buy make purchases offline, compared to 20 per cent who buy online.

Search engines play a key role in people’s purchase decisions as 70 per cent of the customers use search engines to get information before making a purchase, compared to 36 per cent who visit specific brand websites and 26 per cent who check on their social network.

“Digital influence on in-store sales is expected to keep growing strongly,” Bao said. Retailers should make their websites accessible across all channels, and link online and offline campaigns so that customer experience is integrated for all channels. “The retail industry is now developing at omni-channel level, which is expected to move to mobile-first commerce, and then immersive commerce in the future.” — VNS

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