The latest e-commerce trends from research commissioned by FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and one of the world’s largest express transportation companies, shows that both Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and consumers in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region (AMEA) agree that there’s room for further growth in the already booming e-commerce sector. In Malaysia, nearly 90% of SMEs acknowledge the increased importance of e-commerce to their business over the past 3 years while 89% of SMEs believe it will continue to become even more important in future.
E-commerce revolution means a fundamental shift in the consumer’s mindset and behaviors around e-commerce. Older consumers, in
particular, have had their eyes opened to the benefits of online shopping during the pandemic and there is no going back. SMEs are largely excited by this revolution and are willing to invest and change their outlook to capitalize.
The Covid pandemic has hot-housed e-commerce growth across the AMEA region and Marketplaces are increasingly influential. SMEs are excited by the resulting opportunities and ready to capitalize. Consumers are also broadly positive about the heightened importance of e-commerce in their shopping experiences.
Of the 11 markets in the Asia Pacific, SMEs in India, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam were among the most optimistic about their future e-commerce growth in the next three years, a sentiment shared by consumers in these same markets. Looking ahead, for Malaysian SMEs, China is seen as the key market, within AMEA, that Malaysian SMEs will target for export growth, followed by India and Japan.
While the latest e-commerce trends from this research show that both SMEs and consumers in AMEA agree that there’s room for further growth in the already booming e-commerce sector, there are still challenges ahead. Many e-tailers are struggling to cope with the increasing demand and cannot recruit fast enough. This has a knock-on impact on service levels. E-tailers believe they are providing a higher level of service than consumers perceive.
Service experience mismatch means that SMEs believe they are performing better on e-commerce service touchpoints than they are in
reality. Online orders take longer to arrive than consumers expect, and there are clear issues with product returns that can frustrate. It’s critical that SMEs raise their game across the e-commerce experience and e-commerce trends in order to not get left behind.
There is a significant gap between SMEs’ assessment of their own performance across a range of customer experience metrics and how consumers experience this in reality. SMEs need to up their game to ensure that they do not lose customers as the market continues to evolve.
Talent challenge means the problems that SMEs are facing right now in needing to recruit for new e-commerce roles as they develop this side of their business –at a time when it has rarely been as difficult to recruit that talent. This e-commerce trend: talent challenge is negatively impacting SMEs’ ability to digitally transform their business.
SMEs are adopting a dual approach in response, recruiting talent from outside their business. SMEs across AMEA are finding the Great Resignation very challenging right now – this is hitting them hard and causing headaches at a time when they are looking to increase headcount by recruiting new e-commerce talent to drive their business forward.
Sustainability tensions means there is uncertainty—among SMEs and also among subject matter experts—as to just how important sustainability considerations are to consumers. Can sustainable business practices truly pay dividends for SMEs or are consumers just paying lip service to sustainability?
Whilst SMEs and Consumers are both very aware of the need for sustainability, in their words, their choices and their actions, it’s tough to get the balance right. Overall, SMEs tend to under-estimate how important sustainability is to consumers.
Commercial growth is not always good for the environment, and this is particularly pertinent for SMEs that are looking to get their goods in the hands of customers as quickly as possible whilst still demonstrating their sustainability credentials. And in particularly fast-moving markets, like those we see across AMEA, SMEs are racing to figure out the implications of the increased focus on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) for their business.
More effective e-tailing, part of the e-commerce trends, implies an understanding of the benefits and potential challenges associated with newer payment options and with businesses targeting consumers in more personal and engaging ways. SMEs need to know whether there will be a return on any investment in these innovations.
SMEs are already offering or planning to offer newer payment options, and targeting audiences more effectively, e.g., through personalization and shoppertainment – and consumers are very receptive to innovations in these areas.
Shopping festivals is one of the benchmarks as it conjuncts with the e-commerce trends, determines whether SMEs and/or consumers are losing interest in a range of different shopping festival events from seasonal discounts to specific events like Black Friday or Double Days. The clear finding is that SMEs continue to find these beneficial and over two-fifths of consumers would prefer to see more in future.
E-commerce events continue to make a difference to AMEA consumers – in fact, many would like even more. There is also a clear need from SMEs for increased logistics support during key pinch points.
The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive in July 2022 across 11 markets including Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. 300 small and medium businesses (with less than 250 employees) engaged in e-commerce were polled in each market alongside 500 consumers (1,000 in India) over the age of 18. To access the full report click here.
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