Kopi Chat Da Bao: How has technology enhanced the e-commerce industry?

Featuring Kopi Chat Da Bao with Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President of Category Management, Lazada Group

Contributed by Chen Yi Ting

From mobile shopping to online ticketing — eCommerce, which refers to online transactions, is experiencing rapid global growth. Brick-and-mortar restaurants and stores downsizing, closing down or enforcing strict regulations in-store due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a greater number of consumers turning to online purchases and an emphasis on omnichannel commerce, which aims to provide a seamless experience for customers through all online and offline platforms.

On September 2, we invited Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President of Category Management, Lazada Group, to share his understanding of Lazada’s approach to eCommerce and advice as a CMO and serial entrepreneur. Lazada, one of the largest eCommerce platforms in Southeast Asia, is the regional flagship of Alibaba group.

Soh Hui Min, NUS Enterprise (left) with Sridhar Ramaswamy, Lazada Group (right)

Since 2016, the Alibaba group, with 20 years of experience in eCommerce, has invested in Lazada and brought some of its core technology and capabilities into Lazada. Below are the key focus areas of Lazada.

1) User experience

Lazada examines the buyer’s journey to ensure buyer’s intent is quickly being translated into actionable products relevant to their needs. This enhances and creates a smooth user experience. At the core of this, artificial intelligence (AI) is used to analyse and provide relevant searches for each user. This will enable customers to receive search results rapidly in the fewest number of clicks possible. With millions of products in an online marketplace, search outcomes may be very dynamic. However, with AI algorithms in place, browsing and customer experience are enhanced with greater probability of transactions.

2) Technological considerations

The key technological considerations include ensuring operating systems are available on and compatible with platforms used. This is because the best user experience has to be seamless with reasonable storage and high performance. In this fast-moving economy, customers are used to the instant gratification, have greater expectations for responsiveness of the software and look to having responses within a few milliseconds.

3) Backend Logistics

Fast and convenient delivery is essential for customer satisfaction. As such, Lazada excels in large shipping infrastructure and is one of the few platforms which owns their own infrastructure such as warehouses, transport links and supply points dynamically distributed across regions. Such a developed system allows for fast quality service, which in turn builds up trust and customer confidence.

Sridhar also provides insights on marketing in eCommerce.

Marketing is all about users and understanding what users are looking for.

Rather than attempting to influence the way customers behave, Sridhar highlights that it is critical to get under the skin of your customers. The most valuable trait as a marketer is to be able to understand the main problem your customers face and offer a solution which can address the problem directly, resulting in a good product-market fit.

It is essential to recognise the way customers are buying.

Group buying and good deals are what buyers are consistently looking out for. However, Sridar urges eCommerce marketers to look beyond the obvious. Currently, shoppertainment, the confluence of virtual shopping and entertainment, is gaining traction by providing a sense of normality and localisation for shoppers stuck at home during the COVID-19 crisis. Sridhar gives the example of the rising importance of live streaming in China, which has become the most popular video format.

If you are keen to learn more about entrepreneurship and technology, check out similar events on NUS Enterprise website (https://enterprise.nus.edu.sg/).

Join our upcoming Kopi Chat on 7 Oct here.