2018 was a record year for Lazada, Southeast Asia’s leading e-commerce platform. During its annual 12.12 Shopping Festival, the gross merchandise volume (GMV) for all six of its markets combined – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam – was 30 times more than a typical day for the Alibaba Group-owned company. Also, the number of site visits surpassed 1.3 billion, while over 1 million parcels were delivered in one day. Despite these records, President Jing Yin says Lazada has yet to reach its full potential. He sees an immense growth opportunity in a region whose digital economy is said to be on track to hit $240 billion by 2025.
On the eve of the group’s seventh anniversary celebration, Yin spoke with Alizila and shared the new initiatives Lazada is rolling out to better connect brands and consumers, how his team is able to drive growth in six significantly different markets and the secret to attracting and retaining the region’s new generation of consumers.
Lazada has a goal of hosting 8 million small and medium-sized merchants on its platform by 2030. Right now, you have 400,000. How do you get there?
Our business has three key themes – Empowerment, Experience and Efficiency. We want to empower our brands and sellers with tools operate stores that best fit their identity. At the same time, we want to ensure they can run a successful and sustainable business on our platform. That’s our definition of a “Super eBusiness.” We recognize the common pain points faced by merchants and to help them overcome these hurdles, we have a comprehensive solution package called “Super Solutions” that addresses branding, marketing and sales. These three are the evergreen forces that propel the growth for sellers and brands.
The tools include a Marketing Solutions package that will to help direct more traffic to the storefronts through ad buys and other means. This will boost visibility and places the storefronts front and center for the targeted audience.
Another tool is new and improved virtual Business Advisor, an online dashboard that gives brands and sellers valuable, real-time updates of their store’s performance, as well as broad-stroke consumer insights that are not readily available in this market. By leveraging the technology of Alibaba, Business Advisor provides the essential information merchants need to fine-tune and optimize their product listings so they can best capture, and even anticipate, the demands of their customers. These tools will give Lazada brands and sellers a huge advantage over their competitors because they would have a more-precise understanding of their consumers.
A significant milestone for Lazada in 2018 is the opening of LazMall, a platform that allows major brands to open their own flagship store. What is the latest progress?
We’ve seen tremendous growth among our key pioneer brands, such as Apple, Estee Lauder, Unilever, P&G and others. Consumer satisfaction remains high, as they are able to buy 100% authentic products from over 1,500 reputable international brands with a few simple taps on their phones. Moreover, with our ability to ensure next-day delivery and the 15-day hassle-free return policy, we are quickly attracting new consumers while retaining those we already have.
As part of the Super Solutions, we are welcoming qualified merchants to also open their online stores on LazMall. To make it easier for interested merchants, we have pushed out a new self-sign-up service. Qualified applicants can be approved within minutes.
Lazada operates in six countries that are all in different stages of development. How do you satisfy the unique appetite and demands of each market?
It’s true that each country in our coverage area has its unique consumption habits and preferences. Lazada is a regional platform with localized services customized to each market. Our local experts have their fingers on the pulse of each country’s e-commerce industry. They know the local sellers, they understand the shopping behaviors of the local consumers and they have a keen observation on what products would be most-attractive to them. With their help, we can bring onboard the merchants and products that would generate the highest reception. For example, we piloted our live streaming technology in Thailand because we recognize the power influencers who can speak directly to the audience. Since then, we’ve progressively rolled live streaming to our other markets.
Industry watchers say young consumers are the most-powerful engine driving the e-commerce boom in Southeast Asia. What is Lazada’s secret to attracting this demographic?
Young Southeast Asian consumers are extremely tech-savvy. They have demonstrated a fast adaptability to mobile and internet. Shoppers in Southeast Asia are not just looking for quality products at a reasonable price, increasingly they also are looking for a social experience when they shop online.
We have introduced a set of content-generation tools, such as in-app livestreaming, music, videos and endorsements by influencers and key opinion leaders. Gamification and entertainment are also a huge part of our campaigns. When you shop on Lazada, you can count on it being not just transactional but experiential as well. It is a fun social community where you can exchange views with other consumers. We are the number-one shopping website in Southeast Asia, as well as the go-to lifestyle platform. This is what we mean by shoppertainment.
On March 26, we will throw a concert party in Jakarta as part of our seventh birthday celebrations, featuring Mega popstar Dua Lipa along with a lineup of Southeast Asian celebrities and entertainers. The best part is you don’t have to be in Jakarta to enjoy the concert because it will be livestreamed on our app. This is the first time that an e-commerce company has done this in Southeast Asia. Definitely an experience you don’t want to miss!
Lazada is turning seven this month. Where do you see the platform seven years from now?
Lazada is building a legacy in Southeast Asia and we are here to stay. For the next seven years and beyond, we will continue to explore new technologies to enable our merchants with the latest innovations. We want to enlarge our consumer base and attract those who are still shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Not only more consumers will know us, they will use the platform and return to Lazada frequently. We have already redefined online shopping in Southeast Asia and we the standard bearer of quality and service.
You can say we are still quite young, but we have definitely accomplished a lot in the last seven years by being the dominant force driving Southeast Asia’s e-commerce development. In 2016, we became part of the Alibaba family. In 2018, we had a significant system uplift, and I believe 2019 is our turning point. This is our year to really shine.