Personalized Yet Sustainable Experiences Will Redefine the New Retail Playbook in Southeast Asia


Immersive, sustainable digital retail services and offerings could present a silver lining for Southeast Asia’s retail industry, but a robust digital foundation will be key in enabling the next wave of retail innovations, according to VMware, Inc. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the VMware Digital Frontiers 3.0 Study revealed that 41% of Southeast Asian respondents are not missing regular shopping in-store as much as they thought they would. With more consumers increasingly entrusting their personal data with retailers to create a hyper-personalized shopping experience, privacy-focused and retail innovations such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality will be pivotal in shaping the future of retail in Southeast Asia.

  • More than half (54%) would prefer shopping with a fashion retailer that already knows their personal preferences for items that they are likely to buy – for instance clothes size, color preferences and likely budget.
  • 63% welcome the use of virtual technology in a consumer experience – for example, to simulate what an item looks like on them, or how an item will fit in the desired space.
  • More than two-thirds (70%) trust that artificial intelligence would be used to benefit society in the next five years.
  • 64% of respondents have stated that they would leave a website or application if they could not get their issues resolved there and then (e.g., chatbot, live chat, telephone).
  • 41% would leave a retailer and visit a rival brand’s site or app if it cannot offer at a minimum next-day delivery.

Many brick-and-mortar stores in Southeast Asia are bearing the brunt of the pandemic as lockdown restrictions have pushed more shoppers online. While 61% of respondents in Southeast Asia are happy to engage with retail organizations digitally, 60% of them are prepared to switch to a competitor if a digital experience is not up to par – higher than other surveyed counterparts: US (50%), Germany (40%), France (36%) and UK (51%). With more than half of respondents (57%) expressing their excitement for digital services, harnessing next-generation technologies including Cloud, artificial intelligence and modern applications will be key in enabling the retail industry to accelerate innovations and deliver a more holistic and secure retail experience to shoppers in Southeast Asia.

“The pandemic has led to a digital sprint for the retail sector as it has permanently changed the way consumers shop. In Southeast Asia, businesses are now facing their ‘sink or swim’ moment of leveraging cutting-edge innovations such as cloud and modern apps to redefine how they connect with customers digitally or risk losing them to a competitor,” said Devan Parinpanayagam, Country Manager, Malaysia, VMware. “Apart from making sure that they are delivering hyper-personalized, seamless digital services, retail organizations now also have to focus on bridging the gaps in their offline and online operations and delivering a superior omnichannel experience to stay competitive in the digital economy ahead. At VMware, we are committed to helping retail organizations modernize and strengthen their digital infrastructure so they can unlock new, revolutionary shopping experiences for consumers.”

Southeast Asia is also pivoting towards sustainable development as consumers become increasingly eco-conscious and are making efforts to tap on digital technologies to become carbon-neutral:

  • 43% of Southeast Asian respondents are happy to pay a premium on goods and services that demonstrate commitment to being carbon neutral.
  • More than half (55%) will stop engaging with companies or buying from brands if they do not publicly share their ethical policies.
  • 63% want to use more digital services to reduce their carbon footprint – for instance, by driving less to shops.

As Malaysia sets to establish itself as the Heart of Digital ASEAN, the government is committed to implementing significant change across all industries to grow the nation’s digital economy, especially in the retail industry where Malaysian consumers are demanding personalized and sustainable digital experiences with innovative technologies.

  • 60% of Malaysian respondents welcome the use of virtual technology in a consumer experience – for example, to simulate what an item looks like on them, or how an item will fit in the desired space.
  • 38% are happy to pay a premium on goods and services from retailers that demonstrate their commitment to being carbon-neutral.
  • 60% want to use more digital services to reduce their carbon footprint – for instance, by driving less to shops.

Gain consumer trust first, before securing consumer loyalty

As Southeast Asia’s retail battleground goes virtual, consumers are placing higher trust in retail organizations and the digital offerings they are providing to tailor their shopping experiences:

  • At least one in two respondents (53%) are comfortable and excited to provide retailers access to completely accurate data about their daily lives for an improved experience and more relevant offers. This is significantly higher than respondents in other surveyed countries: US (24%), Germany (34%), France (20%), UK (18%).
  • More than two-thirds (68%) are comfortable and excited about the indefinite use of remote, virtual interactions with retailers, rather than in-store experiences.

That said, only 36% of Southeast Asian respondents believe that retail organizations have given them assurance that their data and information is secure. This highlights an urgent need for retail organizations in the region to build greater consumer trust by establishing transparency with consumers and building up a zero-trust approach to security to better safeguard end-users’ data from bad actors.

A Trusted Digital Foundation will be key to uncover the next wave of growth for retail

As we move full steam ahead towards the digital future, VMware outlines key priorities that will further strengthen the transformation of Southeast Asia’s retail ecosystem:

  • Empowering retail organizations to build a multi-cloud and app future: Unlocking a multi-cloud future with app-driven innovations in a consistent and more secure environment that enables continuous innovation
  • Enabling innovation and productivity for the region’s anywhere workforces: Future ready workforce solutions will enable a seamless and more secure digital employee experience, driving greater outcomes in the new world of work
  • Intrinsic security for uninterrupted innovation: An intrinsic approach to enterprise security will provide an additional layer of robust protection for retail operations and shoppers’ personal data to fast-track business innovation and resilience

9 September 2021

Author: VSDaily Editor

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