Tiger Wang, Head of Marketing, Shopee Singapore

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Beyond the process of product development itself, the success of a product is often determined by how it is marketed towards its target audience.

We have written extensively about the COVID-19 outbreak when there are several noticeable changes in user behaviour. In this situation, startups might find themselves scrambling to adjust their marketing strategy to changes in the market.

In this second edition of our deep-dive series, e27 speaks to Tiger Wang, Head of Marketing at Shopee Singapore, to understand the best practices in building a marketing strategy as implemented in the company.

He explains how Shopee is building its marketing strategy — and how it adapts to the challenges of the time.

Topics covered in this article:

Marketing Strategy 101: Principles and process
Marketing Strategy 101: Testing a campaign
Marketing in time of a pandemic

Marketing Strategy 101

In this part, Wang explains the main principles and process behind a marketing strategy

At Shopee, we pride ourselves in our highly localised marketing approach. We have seven different apps live across our markets, and each market differs significantly in terms of culture, user behaviour and shopping preferences.

When building a marketing strategy, it is important to understand the local consumers’ needs, expectations and nuances to ensure that it is customised for that particular market.

In all our markets, including Singapore, we recruit and support local talent so that we possess in-market expertise to better reach out to our users, helping create meaningful engagements with our consumers.

Additionally, our data science team works closely with the local marketing teams to build shopper models based on various behavioural and demographic data that is available to us.

An example of a marketing campaign run by Shopee

Some examples include gender, age, brand preferences and preferred shopping features.

We then leverage data-driven insights using our strong data capabilities and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict user preferences based on their past purchases. By identifying relationships and patterns in users’ shopping and browsing behaviour, we can curate a more personalised shopping journey for them.

We continuously refine our recommendation engines to offer more customised and relevant shopping suggestions, promotions and push notifications made to fit their needs. Personalisation is critical in the e-commerce of today.

Also Read: Report: Shopee, Lazada compete for top spots in Southeast Asian e-commerce scene

The use of tech is a key factor that businesses need to consider when building their marketing strategy — particularly how to leverage their available resources and data to keep up-to-date on consumer trends and to adapt their strategies accordingly.

In a world of options and distractions, consumers are broadening their horizons and spending less time shopping in only one place. The need to create new ways of engaging consumers and capturing their attention is more important now than ever before.

AI has become an important element in the future of retail, enabling brands to optimise efficiencies and create personalised experiences. It is crucial at a time when brands need to provide more than just transactional experiences for shoppers.

Beauty brands such as L’Oréal use AI-powered digital innovation tools to offer instant, personalised and professional acne analyses without the customer having to visit a physical store, which is essential as more people remain confined at home.

It’s not just big players that should be using technology to implement an effective marketing strategy; SMEs can also leverage online platforms to create unique, memorable, and enjoyable experiences for their customers. This goes a long way towards building consumer loyalty.

Secondly, the need for engagement, entertainment and social interaction in a marketing strategy has never been more compelling as consumers increasingly value shareable experiences.

Therefore, companies need to elevate the customer journey by integrating these elements into marketing in order to cater to an increasingly demanding consumer base.

Tried and tested

Once we understand the principles of building a marketing strategy, it is time to get it tested. How do we know we have done it right? What to do when it fails to reach expectations?

The digital economy is constantly evolving. In order to succeed, we need to continue to keep our ear to the ground and adapt our strategy accordingly.

Nimble marketing is the recipe for success, and it’s crucial for marketing teams to collaborate and adapt campaigns as needed once they are live.

We monitor the performance of each of our marketing campaigns closely and gather relevant insights along the way. This allows us to make necessary adjustments when needed, following changes in local trends and current events.

Also Read: Lazada, Shopee and Zalora are most visited e-commerce sites in Philippines

The definition of success varies with each campaign depending on the objectives involved. We place great emphasis on powering the next wave of e-commerce, and one key pillar is quality consumer engagement; we consistently work to integrate a personalised, engaging, and social element in our shopping experience.

Certain campaigns are aimed at deepening engagement, such as those focused on games and live-streams.

For example, during our recent National Day Sale, we launched a host of localised games, including Shopee Flappy – Siam the ERP edition, Shopee Candy – Mama Shop edition, and Shopee Shake – Satay @ Lau Pat Sat edition..

All of our campaigns are formulated with data-led insights, which ensure they do not undergo trial and error — instead, they cater directly to shopping behaviour patterns.

It is important for marketers to understand that each campaign is a vital learning lesson and is an opportunity to continue fine-tuning the ongoing marketing strategies — don’t define campaigns by fails and successes, but rather use it as a stepping stone to perfecting marketing strategy.

Our signature 9.9 Super Shopping Day has been very successful over a number of years. It was introduced in 2016 to cater to the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

As an annual shopping event tailored for the region with the largest collection of deals across all product categories, it is now a key date in the year’s online shopping calendar.

Each year, our campaign and hyper-localised approach for each market means we successfully outperform previous year’s 9.9 performance, proving that we continue to bring value to our users, sellers, brands and partners, through a personalised, engaging and social shopping experience.

In 2019, we celebrated our biggest-ever 9.9 Super Shopping Day, with three times the number of orders compared to 2018, and over 113 million deals offered on September 9. At its peak, 187,606 items were sold in a minute.

The success of 9.9 shows that our consumers’ appetite for deals and promotions is strong, especially in Singapore.

Also Read: Report: Shopee, Lazada compete for top spots in Southeast Asian e-commerce scene

Marketing in time of a pandemic

Since the start of the COVID-19, Shopee says that users in Singapore have spent 40 per cent more time in-app per week and the number of Shopee Live streams from brands and sellers have increased 40x. In Singapore, its in-app games were played over 60 million times and 1.6 million plays from February 1 to April 24. 

So how does their marketing strategy differ in times of crisis?

Regardless of external factors, the fast-moving e-commerce landscape regularly conditions us to be flexible and adaptive in our marketing strategies.

This means that during times of crisis, we are well-prepared to shift our strategies to meet users’ needs quickly and efficiently.

There are no one-size-fits-all blueprints or hard-and-fast rules when it comes to marketing during a time of crisis.

Rather, we believe the most important thing is to consider the most pertinent needs and concerns of our audience.

Needless to say, their priorities and habits will change during moments of crises. Brands thus need to be able to see things from their perspective in order to be able to market to them successfully.

For example, as people continue to adhere to social distancing measures, more users are shopping online for a growing number of different product categories.

There is a greater demand for health and personal hygiene products, as well as essential household items. In order to address this increased demand, we have implemented additional support measures wherever necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, partners, sellers and users.

In all of our markets, we rolled out ‘Shopee from Home’ campaigns, which made it easy for users to search for and purchase the products they want on our platform.

In Singapore, we took additional steps to limit the over-purchasing of essential health items such as masks, thus ensuring sufficient supply for all our users.

We also worked to support our sellers and made sure they are able to cope with the increased online demand through enhanced logistics infrastructure, to further drive seamless shopping experiences during this period.

We are determined to use the Shopee platform to aid the evolving needs of all our users to help them to adapt to the new normal. The pandemic has definitely led us to shift our focus and priorities to address certain key trends and issues.

In Singapore, our recently-concluded Great Shopee Sale campaign focused on empowering local businesses — a huge topic of concern amongst Singaporeans.

As part of the campaign, we featured one seller a day on our ‘#SGUnited Shopee Support Local’ campaign microsite and social media platforms to drive more visibility to their online stores.

Also Read: How Shopee is using data science to take their platform to the next level

We have improved our social features to provide entertainment and engagement during this time of evolving needs:

• Shopee Feed: We have upgraded our in-app social feed to cater to the increased time spent and levels of social interaction on Shopee. Users can share content on what they are listing, buying, and selling with the community without having to leave the Shopee app. Users can follow and receive the latest real-time updates from their friends, as well as sellers and brands more quickly and efficiently than before. Shopee Feed is a key component that addresses the exploratory and social nature of online shopping today.

• Shopee Live Chat: Conversations between sellers and buyers are a crucial part of the social experience on Shopee and we have added new functions in our popular Shopee Live Chat feature to enable more meaningful interactions, based on observed user behaviour.

Being a home-grown company, Shopee has always prided itself in doing its part to help nurture and empower local businesses and SMEs. The strategies for our campaigns and initiatives targeted at local businesses and SMEs are designed to focus on this objective.

The COVID-19 period has been particularly challenging for these groups, and we have scaled up our efforts to help sellers on our platform navigate the current economic environment. We launched the ​Shopee Seller Support Package (SSSP) and the ‘#SGUnited Shopee Support Local’ campaign microsite to increase exposure for local sellers by driving greater traffic to them.

We provide these businesses with much-needed marketing support that helps establish themselves online, further optimise sales, and construct sustainable, long-term e-commerce strategies.

Image Credit: Shopee

The post How Shopee uses AI, data to build a marketing strategy that suits changes in user behaviour appeared first on e27.

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