The eCommerce landscape across Southeast Asia has had to adapt rapidly to the impact of COVID-19 and “digital availability” will be essential to future marketing strategies, writes Carlos Matriano, Head of Innovation & eCommerce at PHD Singapore, for WARC.

Matriano outlines key developments in Southeast Asia’s eCommerce landscape that will inform brand strategy beyond COVID-19:

  • The influence of COVID-19 on eCommerce can be seen most prominently in the areas of behaviour, infrastructure and the resulting opportunities that exist in times of crises;
  • Brands that move quickly to meet consumer desire for steady fulfilment of essential needs will set themselves up for long-term success;
  • Drastic improvements made in infrastructure throughout South East Asia (SEA) in the last 12 months, but also immediately following lockdown, have been instrumental.

Matriano notes how changed consumer behaviour and infrastructure enhancement has thrown up new opportunities, particularly in eCommerce, which has become a primary space for engaging with consumers. The underlying factor for success is the tried and tested philosophy of innovating and adapting to the changing conditions and behaviour changes – and this includes “digital availability”, a must for any future marketing strategy.

“Brands that take advantage of this behaviour are the ones that are positioning themselves to win in the long run,” Matriano says, offering the example of Grab, the local tech company that offers ride-hailing transport services, food delivery and payment solutions.

Grab was quick to adapt and pivot with addition of new services and a focus on same-day delivery of essential goods, he observes: GrabMart, which started as an on-demand daily essentials delivery service to support consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, scaled from two to eight Southeast Asian countries in three months and is now live in 50 cities across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia and partnering with over 3,000 stores in the region.

Brands like Grab that can complement the behavioural and structural changes that have come with the pandemic and resulting lockdowns and improve their “Digital Availability” by being visible and easily transactable will be the ones that benefit the most.

Read the full piece by PHD Singapore’s Carlos Matriano on WARC.