Evolution of Southeast Asia's online shopping festival


Posted at Oct 29 2020 01:04 PM

Conceived in 2009 by Alibaba's platform for premium brands Tmall, the date November 11 is now synonymous with the biggest shopping celebration in the region. Originally an obscure holiday to celebrate singles, November 11 has now become a day where many companies are promoting the best deals and lowest prices to consumers on almost all categories available. 

Lazada was the first to bring this retail event to Southeast Asia and 2020 will be the eighth edition. Filipino consumers eagerly wait in anticipation for not just exclusive deals but a range of entertaining activities on the platform such as the Super Show concert, LazLive content like the interactive game Guess It!, and voucher deals through in-app games. 

But how did 11.11 evolve from its beginnings on Lazada to the super shopping festival it is today?

Humble beginnings

Launched in 2012, Lazada used to operate as an online retailer, wherein items were stocked and then sold directly to customers online. Lazada took care of the logistics, making sure purchased items were conveniently delivered to customers' doorsteps. While e-commerce is prevalent now, it wasn't the same eight years ago. Back then, Filipinos preferred to do all their shopping in traditional brick and mortar stores.

MemoXpress, one of the pioneer brands that joined Lazada in 2014, sold mobile phones and accessories. They are a known brand in retail malls, but it was a challenge to build and grow their customers on e-commerce. Filipinos were resistant to the idea of buying products online, especially big-ticket items like mobile gadgets. The team knew they had to build a strong foundation for their online business to gain the trust of their customers. 

''Buyers were quite wary to purchase online back then, always making sure that the seller was authorized and the products were legit. It was crucial for us to really build our team and adopt the mindset of understanding our customers' needs and how we can better serve them through an online platform,'' said MemoXpress Division Head for e-commerce Wilton Yu. 

Mighty Baby, another pioneer on the platform, has been with Lazada for six years. Selling mom and baby merchandise, the brand received a similar reception from buyers wary of purchasing products online.

''When we joined Lazada, many people were unfamiliar with the concept of shopping online. People were skeptical about buying from a platform, asking if this is a legit website to purchase from. There was a curiosity to buy online but they were not sure if it was a scam,'' said Meryll Dy, Mighty Baby owner.

The brands' online business evolved along with the e-commerce platform, maintaining faith even in the face of rocky beginnings as Lazada worked to grow its presence and improve its back-end capabilities. 

''When we were first starting, the back-end support on our Seller Center was rudimentary and simple. We had to do everything manually like churning out reports and figuring out the transactions since our items had higher price values. Even our training modules were all just in PDF,'' recalls Yu.

Using the tools and limited knowledge they had, the brands embarked on their first 11.11 journey and got a taste of what was to be their biggest sale day of the year. 

''We really did not expect anything when we first participated, and we were surprised to find out that it was a big shopping event. We were also available on other platforms and offline stores then, but we saw a healthy spike in our sales on Lazada,'' shares Dy.

Platform evolution

As the years passed, Lazada got bigger and bigger. More brands and sellers joined, and the back-end technology available for sellers became more sophisticated and helpful in improving their business operations. 

''Sellers now have access to their sales reports, store audience, and page views – all the different metrics to see if the store is doing well. We have the option to dress up our store and make it more appealing for customers. Likewise, we can also showcase our products in more creative and appealing formats like videos and livestream. We saw that these are effective in driving more consumers to click and shop on our store,'' said Dy. 

Not only has the Seller Center's tools evolved with better technology, but resources like training modules used to educate sellers on the ropes of e-commerce have also improved as well. From the simple PDF modules, it has blown to a full-fledged course training program via Lazada University. Innovations have also been introduced to give brands and sellers better visibility and traffic on the platform, such as the newly launched Lazada Sponsored Solutions. 

During the recent 9.9 Big Brands sale, Johnson & Johnson utilized the Sponsored Affiliate and Sponsored Search, with the former contributing 23% of total sales. Likewise, electronics brand Coocaa saw it boost their daily sales, contributing to 10% of their total sales since activating the use of Lazada Sponsored Solutions. 

''Lazada's Sponsored Solutions opened up new opportunities for our Johnson & Johnson LazMall store, making our brands stand out more than ever within the platform. The full-funnel solutions allowed us to strategize where our big bets will go best in alignment with our business objectives,'' said Johnson & Johnson Digital Brand Manager, Charmaine Obedencio-Gumban. 

Apart from the back-end tools, Lazada's overall look and feel has improved since its humble beginnings, especially with the latest refresh of LazMall unveiled last September. The current app provides an easy and seamless shopping experience from start to finish, with added features available such as livestreaming and games, digital payment capabilities, as well as access to everyday essentials like groceries, medicine, and even fresh produce. 

MemoXpress noted that the launch of LazMall helped increase their visibility as a trusted seller, differentiating their brand from the thousands of other sellers on the platform. 

''Searching for a product on the platform was not very straightforward in the beginning; it was a whole jumble of results every time customers tried to search for products. When Lazada established LazMall, the categories were better sorted and brands offering quality products gained better visibility on the platform,'' said Yu. 

Even the businesses that have started out small in Lazada's early stages have grown phenomenally on the platform. 

Unisilver Time also started on Lazada in 2014, being conservative with their scale as they were just starting to dip their toes on e-commerce. 

''When we were starting, we only listed around less than 500 products on our Lazada store. At present, we have over a thousand products for our customers, really giving them the whole variety of our product offerings,'' said Unisilver Time Operations Manager Maricris Alovera. 

Lazada and 11.11 at present 

Now that 11.11 has become a mainstay on shoppers' calendars, sellers make plenty of preparations for their biggest sale day. 

''At the start, we were not so focused on our e-commerce presence and did not have enough manpower. But we saw how much our store has grown as the online space continues to evolve. During our last 11.11 in 2019, we had over 500 visitors and more than 3,000 page views within the first 30 minutes. We know this year will be even bigger, and we are continually increasing our assortment to provide our customers with more choices and deals. We really want to build Mighty Baby as a go-to shop for mom and baby products,'' said Dy. 

With e-commerce seeing explosive growth, more brands and sellers on the platform are seeing their businesses flourish and are quickly adapting their strategies to better cater to the growing online market. 

''Before, we really invested in our physical presence by opening a lot of physical stores. With the evolution of technology and e-commerce, it has also evolved consumer preferences and led us to become more flexible with our business. 11.11 now really has a big impact on our business; people expect great deals on quality products that we have on offer. On our end, we find ways to provide for their needs and make their e-commerce experience seamless from adding to cart to receiving their products in the best condition,'' said Yu. 

''The road to becoming the leading e-commerce platform in the Philippines has not been easy and we have overcome many obstacles in our journey to build Lazada to what it is today. Seeing the growth of our brands and sellers through our 11.11 mega campaign together with Lazada is incredibly rewarding to us. I am proud that 11.11 and our other mega campaigns throughout the year have helped businesses boost their sales and provided them with a wider audience reach for their growing product assortment. This year's 11.11 will be bigger and better, and we hope that more brands celebrate with us as we bring more non-stop happiness to consumers and celebrate more campaigns to come,'' said Lazada Philippines Chief Executive Officer Ray Alimurung.

To know more about Lazada's upcoming 11.11 sale, visit its website and follow its Facebook or Twitteraccounts for updates. 

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