Shopee Marketing Strategy
Here is a summary about How Shopee Marketing Strategy works and help Shopee become the leader in the region!
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How 5-year-old startup Shopee is leading e-commerce growth in Southeast Asia
- The value of Southeast Asia’s e-commerce sector is estimated at $38 billion and is on track to surpass $150 billion by 2025.
- Founded in 2015, Singapore-based Shopee is the region’s leading e-commerce platform by monthly active users
- The company has built its business on a mobile-first strategy that reflects high mobile internet usage in the region
- Shopee is investing in digital inclusion to help new and existing merchants recover from the pandemic
- Because of his work, Business Insider named Shopee’s COO, Terence Pang, to our annual list of the 10 leaders transforming retail in Asia.
While much of the retail sector in Southeast Asia was hit hard due to lockdowns and other restrictions in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce continues to grow at speed, with consumers and merchants alike increasingly turning to online platforms.
According to Google Trends, Thailand saw a 63% increase in e-commerce search interest in May compared to the same time in 2019. Malaysia and Vietnam also experienced positive levels of interest, with increases of 32% and 13% respectively.
This growth is nothing new for the region – the pandemic is merely accelerating an existing trend. A joint report from Google, Temasek and Bain and Company estimated that the eCommerce sector in SEA was worth over $38 billion in 2019, up from $5.5 billion in 2015. The report forecasts that e-commerce value in the region will surpass $100 billion by 2025.
Riding this boom is Shopee, the leading e-commerce site in the region measured by average monthly active users. Headed by CEO Chris Feng alongside COO Terence Pang, Shopee launched in Singapore in 2015 as a social-first, mobile-centric marketplace. Here are four key strategic factors driving Shopee’s journey from ambitious startup to a regional retail powerhouse.
Mobile first. Always.
Southeast Asians are the most engaged mobile Internet users in the world. According to the Google, Temasek, and Bain and Company report, there are 360 million Internet users in the region and 90% of them connect to the Internet primarily through their mobile phones.
From the beginning, Shopee saw mobile as an emerging trend and the way forward for e-commerce in the region. It immediately focused on optimizing user experience and engagement through mobile. The company says online shopping must evolve to fit the needs of younger users in particular who grew up communicating, collaborating, and entertaining themselves on mobile devices. Shopee’s mobile-first approach allows it to take advantage of the expected continued growth in mobile subscriber penetration.
Shopee says that over 95% of orders on the platform are now made on mobile. Responding to this demand, Shopee offers an end-to-end online shopping experience directly on the mobile app. Buyers are able to browse products, order, make payment, and track the status of deliveries. At the same time, sellers are able to use the app to take a photo, create listings, monitor shop performance, receive payments and track deliveries through integrated logistics and payment tools.
Taking a hyper-local approach
Southeast Asia is a region and not a single market. Each country has different e-commerce characteristics and challenges, and the demographics of consumers also differ from market to market. With this in mind, Shopee takes a hyper-localized approach in each market to bring the most relevant online shopping experience for brands, sellers, and shoppers.
By understanding each market and its user behaviors means Shopee is able to respond to their needs. As well as having local offices and teams in each of the markets it operates, each market is highly localized in its product categories and marketing campaigns. For example, in Indonesia Shopee launched Shopee Barokah to meet the needs of Muslim users for a variety of Shariah-compliant products and services, particularly during the fasting month.
Shopee also runs localized initiatives around festivals such as Chinese New Year or Tet, and at the operational level it offers seven different versions of the app and has a variety of payment options to match specific country-level needs.
For customers: more than just shopping
One important area of innovation for Shopee is its ability to provide a personalized and social experience for its users.
In terms of personalization, Shopee leverages data and AI to identify patterns and insights from users’ browsing and purchase data and uses new technologies like AI and AR-powered tools to help brands give their audiences distinct shopping experiences. Instead of focusing solely on driving transactions and competing on price, brands and sellers can win by engaging customers and creating brand affinity through these experiences.
Shopee has from the beginning integrated shopping and social. The platform creates immersive experiences by building a strong community that enables users to connect and interact with one another.
Features include: Shopee Live (a live streaming feature); Shopee Games (an in-app gaming function); Shopee Feed (an in-app social feed allows users to share content on what they are listing, buying, and selling with the larger Shopee community); and Shopee Live Chat (a chat function that allows buyers to speak with sellers directly and find out more information before and after making a purchase).
The company is also using data and AI to make online shopping more secure. For example, scripted machine learning is used to detect potential fraud cases and counterfeit products on the platform, offering users greater peace of mind. At the same time, its integrated mobile wallets ShopeePay and AirPay offer users a convenient and secure option, and in turn helps businesses capture new opportunities.
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Shopee’s marketing strategy says to engage more with customers.
The core of Shopee’s philosophy is customer experience, which the company tries to connect and enhance through social features.
As stated by Chris Fend, CEO of Shopee that as the first shopping event took place in 2016 and has reached further with an increasing number of sellers, brands and partners celebrate this special day with Shopee. Chris explained Shopee’s marketing strategy to get ready for the biggest sale event, there are few aspects that need attention which are
- Shopee’s website: Chris wants to put extra steps on ensuring the supporting system available during the sales period and maximize the site’s technological availability which enables retailers and brands to manage properly, correctly, and smoothly the upsurge number of orders during this 2020 11.11 sale season.
- Tutorial course on the website: Also known as Shopee University, these series are an important part of Shopee’s marketing strategy in connecting with partners. This helps brands and sellers with instructions on establishing, running, and controlling their online tills on the website. Furthermore, dedicated lessons available on summing up what to expect for sellers on big sales day.
- New feature: Shopee intends to insert more friendly useful facets on the website for buyers to easily navigate the site. For example schedule notifications for upcoming sales and stock of their wishlists, make use of the in-app games to earn extra rebates.
Shopee’s in-house marketing strategy
On the daily basis, Shopee’s in-house marketing department works together to an integrated and 360-degree marketing approach to keep customers participated in all Shopee’s online, offline platforms.
On the upcoming big day sales, the marketing team has put effort to enhance customer engagement on all channels as much as possible by these means
- Kick-off offline channels with celebrity ambassadors: Shopee’s marketing strategy progressively aims to further boost the brand’s coverage and boost visibility about the upcoming 11.11 sales. Doing this by feature celebrity, KOL endorsement on every Shopee’s advertisement and offline marketing campaign.
- Out-of-house initiatives: Shopee utilizes the celebrity endorsement on the banner, poster, billboard on buses, taxis, trains.
- Local influencers engagement: Shopee targets to work more closely with local influencers to further promote the upcoming sale event 11.11
As the annual 11.11 sales come around the corner, the pressure is getting higher on Shopee’s marketing department to deliver and come up with an up-level strategy to outrage the rival Lazada such as splurge more, introduce more facets to intensify the e-commerce experience.
Shopee marketing strategy to support sellers
Thanks to the sharp growth of eCommerce marketplaces in SEA, there is a growing opportunity for SMEs, retailers, and brands. This is proven with Shopee, as the number of sellers on Shopee’s website raise around 60% annually.
To cope with the constant growth, Shopee’s marketing strategy is to come up with support solutions that match all SMEs
- Shopee 9.9 Super Shopping Day: All sellers signed up for Shopee’s Seller Support Package in April, during 9.9 sale day Shopee will highlight these new sellers throughout super sale days 9.9, 10,10, and 11.11. Sellers has reported 6 times higher in the number of orders during that period
- Shopee University Program: This program includes online Seller Education Hub, Shopee Masterclass, e-tailer’s social commerce tutorials which insist sellers on improving e-commerce skills along with familiarizing with the Shopee Live platform.
- International connection: Shoppe’s marketing strategy to reach out for international connection among local, global brands with the region‘s digital-first shoppers. At the beginning of 2020, Shopee has successfully connected 600 brands with big-name as Samsung, Disney, and L’Oreal which generate 2,5 times sales during 10.10 sale days.
Besides preparing for the massive sales 10.10, Shopee steps up their marketing strategy by putting emphasis on their partners, offering more opportunities for their online shopping value chain consisting of businesses, retailers, sellers.
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Shopee takes lead in Southeast Asia with aggressive marketing
E-commerce platform Shopee has claimed a leadership position in the region ahead of Lazada, according to a report by product comparison website iPrice.
Owned by gaming firm Sea, the platform came in tops with a monthly average of 200.2 million visits via both desktop and mobile gadgets in the second quarter, while Alibaba-owned Lazada was ranked second with 174.4 million visits.
The report noted that Shopee and Lazada continue to take the top two spots after achieving the same feat in the first quarter of 2019.
Shopee was also the most downloaded mobile e-commerce shopping application in Singapore in Q2 2019. The e-commerce company also saw improvements on its website as Shopee saw an increase in traffic by 11% when compared to the previous quarter, garnering more than 2.8 million average visitors in Q2 2019 in Singapore alone.
The report surveyed the e-commerce landscape in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand using data from App Annie and SimilarWeb. The next three most visited sites were all from Indonesia – Tokopedia, Bukalapak and Blibli.
According to iPrice, Shopee’s jump in users could be attributed to the introduction of new features in its recent sales event which recently saw an increase in sales up to 75% , such as a live streaming feature called ‘Shopee Live’ that enabled sellers to engage with customers. In addition, the high number of total downloads was probably driven by marketing initiatives to promote its 7.7 Orange Madness sale which took place in July 2019.
The platform has been making significant investments in its marketing efforts alongside partnerships in a bid to establish dominance in Southeast Asia’s highly competitive e-commerce landscape.
It recently announced a partnership with L’Oréal to bring its AI and AR powered tools, Shopee BeautyCam by ModiFace and the Effaclar Spotscan by La Roche-Posay onto the app. Users can digitally try on different shades of lipsticks as well as receive personalised advice on the best skincare treatments to tackle acne.
The e-commerce platform also introduced professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo as its regional brand ambassador, nearly a year after it tapped South Korean girl group BLACKPINK as its first-ever regional brand ambassador.
Ronaldo will work with Shopee on a wide range of initiatives to engage and inspire people in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, starting with the upcoming 9.9 Super Shopping Day.
A joint study by Google and Temasek Holdings last year found that the region’s digital economy is poised to triple in size to US$240 billion by 2025. E-commerce, a key driver of this growth, is projected to reach US$102 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025.
The iPrice report noted that the e-commerce scene in South-east Asia is set to be more competitive as more new companies enter the market and existing players step up their game.
“This was evident as the e-commerce sector experienced a surge of investments over the last four years, garnering as much as US$2.7 billion in funds in the first half of 2018,” it said.
In 2015 Shopee was launched by its parent company Sea Limited as a social-first, mobile-centric marketplace. Although a latecomer to the game, it has managed to become the leading eCommerce platform in SEA in just 5 years.
According to Shopee’s chief commercial officer Zhou Junjie, being late to the industry was not a disadvantage after all. They were able to observe the market closely and detect the trends or areas that they can improve that the existing players were not addressing.
Now, Shopee dominates all six countries in the SEA eCommerce, with a report boasting its performance across nations as the app with the highest monthly active users, the highest number of total downloads, and websites with the most visits on both desktop and mobile web.
So what are the driving strategic factors that led to Shopee’s journey from an ambitious startup to a regional retail powerhouse?
Southeast Asia’s average usage of mobile internet is the highest among regions, with around 90% of the region’s population accessing the internet through their smartphones. Shopee soon realized that the future is mobile and was right to tap this internet audience by launching the Shopee application first instead of their website, reaching the market of mobile users.
Investing a lot of resources into app development, thanks to the tremendous support of its sister company Garena, Shopee was able to create a user-oriented design that offers an end-to-end online shopping experience for both retailers and customers, providing a personalized and social experience for its users.
The company saw this emerging trend as the way forward for eCommerce in the region, and they believe that online shopping must evolve to fit in particular to the needs of the younger users who grew up communicating, collaborating, and entertaining themselves on mobile devices. This approach allows Shopee to take advantage of the expected continued growth in mobile penetration.
Shopee continues to record strong momentum as the company observed a 40% increase in the time users spent in-app per week last year. In the Indonesian market, it registered over 430 million orders for the Q4 of 2020 alone or a daily average of around 4.7 million orders. Aside from SEA region, the platform also ranked first in Taiwan and globally it was the third most downloaded app in the shopping category. This proves the ability of the company to provide more than just a transactional shopping experience.
Shopee has a strong customer-first philosophy and they have successfully provided a customized online experience for their users through a proficient and friendly buying and selling environment. This has served as one of the competitive advantages of Shopee, which include unique features of culture, language, and marketing strategies in their operations for each market.
To build brand loyalty and create memorable experiences, Shopee focuses on understanding each market and its user behaviors through a lot of hyper-localized activities. Local offices and teams operate in each of the markets where the focus is to present product categories and marketing campaigns according to what is appealing to the market. The company has also partnered with local banks and logistics for their operations in each country to cater to the demands. In the Malaysian market, Shopee saw one of the pain points for user transaction – the local shipping price – and they addressed over-inflated shipping costs by providing sellers an option for free shipping across Malaysia for items weighing up to 5kg.
When it comes to user engagement, a proven effective localization approach by Shopee is to have each market use celebrity endorsements, influencers, and ambassadors that are respectively popular for each country and to whom consumers are most receptive. In the Philippines, the latest ambassador was the famous Filipino singer and songwriter Jose Mari Chan, who is known for his Christmas carols and is great fit for a country known to have the longest Christmas celebration. His campaign was released on the start of Christmas season in the country last September 2020. In other markets such as Thailand, consumers are seen to have a preference with mixed-race celebrities, and the Vietnamese market runs campaigns with celebrities from movies, music, sports, and comedy industry. This year, Shopee Indonesia is welcoming its new promo called “Big Ramadan Sale”, a month-long sale with a series of best offers that caters to users’ needs during Ramadan.
Promotions & Discounts
Instead of focusing on advertisements, Shopee managed to capture customers through various campaigns, for promotions from free shipping, discounts, to flash sales all year round.
In 2020, the anticipated yearly Singles Day, or 11.11, proved how Shopee’s marketing strategy is still dominating the marketplace as it topped all six countries in the region during the said shopping day, as the platform saw 200 million items sold in one day. The drive of promotions per market is becoming increasingly creative as well in setting up deals and attracting buyers. In Malaysia, Shopee focused on different demographics via app in February 2020. Shopee Malaysia launched a men’s sale option as the platform observed that women shop as a form of entertainment, whereas men focus on higher ticket items and there has been a steady increase of male buyers making purchases of laptops, phones, and appliances.
Shopee also added an interactive marketing strategy called “Shoppertainment” to increase traffic and enhance engagement in the platform. This feature includes streaming events, in-app interactive games, and Livestream events that are usually hosted by local influencers and treat viewers with giveaways such as Shopee coins or products from participating brands. In Singapore, Shopee reported that users have spent 40% more time in-app and on live streams by brands and sellers, increasing by 40 times while regionally it increased 70 times. Indonesia also saw a similar increase in usage of live streaming in the second quarter of 2020, reaching 30 million viewing hours. Usage of in-app games also increased, with Singaporean users playing 60 million times while users in Indonesia playing 10 billion times.
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Shopee Brand Strategy Briefing Report — Key Findings
The e-commerce and digital economy in Southeast Asia is fast developing and with great growth potential. Shopee identified these opportunities which the brand leveraged to differentiate itself from other e-commerce platforms and improving its user engagement approach. The report covers Shopee’s initiatives and how it contributes to the growth of the industry.
Mobile-first focus as a key advantage
- Leveraging on the growth of mobile penetration in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, Shopee focuses on the first touch point of their consumer journey, the Shopee mobile app.
- The mobile app provides a clean interface, easy-to-use design and quick links to each feature of Shopee.
- The user-centred design and intuitive interface accommodate both the buyer’s and seller’s experience from the beginning of their journey.
Hyperlocalisation driving memorable digital experiences
- Shopee operates in a highly diverse environment and its campaigns are hyper-localised to cater to the demands of each market. For example:
- Vietnam’s large millennial population of 30% or 27 million rely on their mobile devices and demand a more personalised shopping experience. To engage this segment, Shopee launched month-long sales campaigns and selected a popular Vietnamese actor as its brand ambassador.
- Thais view celebrity endorsements favourably, 60% of respondents in a survey affirmed that they trust celebrity endorsers. Some of the most popular celebrities in Thailand are of mixed ethnicity, Shopee Thailand selected Thai-Norwegian actress and Thai-Austrian actor/model as endorsers for their multi-faceted campaign.
- Malaysian online shoppers are most receptive to discounts and flash sales. Shopee Malaysia launched a daily campaign called “Shocking Sale” which covered Lowest Price Guarantee, and free shipping with a minimum purchase.
- Localisation goes beyond marketing campaigns and product categories. Shopee also actively partners with local banks in each country for payment methods, as well as logistics partners to ensure seamless and cost-effective shopping and delivery.
Non-conventional business model and value-added services
- Shopee Feed is a personalised list of items available to users which allow them to like and follow.
- Shopee Live Chat is a built-in instant messaging feature that allows buyer-seller engagement. Buyers can get replies from the sellers directly and quickly and it also enables sellers to cultivate deeper relationships with their customers.
- Shopee Mall was launched last year as a dedicated in-app space that showcases Official Brands and Shopee’s Top Sellers.
- The simple and intuitive interface has earned a high level of user engagement with Shopee buyers making an average of 3.7 orders per month during the second quarter of 2017.
- Shopee University is a Shopee-wide initiative aimed at assisting local entrepreneurs and businesses in setting up their online stores. It offers tutorial modules to help grow their businesses.
- Shopee also provides operational support through Shopee Seller Centre. The centre provides seller’s access to a Seller Assistant tool that helps manage their online store, help with inventory management, order tracking, and profit and loss management.
- Shopee Guarantee was also set up to protect buyers by withholding payment to sellers until the buyer receives their orders in an agreed-upon condition.
Big Brands Share How Shopee Helps their Business Grow Online
With the pandemic causing significant changes in consumer shopping behavior, brands ramp up their marketing efforts by expanding their presence on e-commerce platforms like Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. With the surge of online shoppers fueling the need for digital transformation, three brands share how they remain top-of-mind while establishing themselves as a strong player in the digital space through the support of Shopee’s ecosystem.
Unilever has continued to optimize its marketing strategy based on what’s most relevant to shoppers and what will help address their present needs. Through Shopee, the brand provided Filipino shoppers with safe access to a wide range of personal care, home care, and food essentials. Timely feedback from shoppers is now easier to enrich their online shopping experience while also maximizing the full suite of in-app solutions within the Shopee platform, such as search, affiliate marketing, and livestreams. With these strategies, Unilever recorded a 23x uplift in orders and achieved a 15x increase in shop views during its Beauty that Cares Super Brand Day campaign in August 2020.
This growth even transcended into their ‘Malasakit for all’ mission to help communities and partners during the pandemic, with Unilever contributing to the first Shopee Bayanihan Frontliner package in 2020 to step up support for Filipino frontliners.
Jackie Manago Nepomuceno, Digital Commerce Marketing at Unilever Philippines, said, “We see Shopee as a strategic partner in driving a streamlined shopping experience for the omnichannel shopper. We partner closely with retailers, such as Shopee, in making our brands and products available for purchase. Through strong collaboration, we can design a unique, relevant, and seamless shopping experience with new and existing shoppers.”
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Shopee Adopted Lazada’s Tactics And Did Even Better
Lazada saw the success of in-app entertainment features by parent company Alibaba and rolled out ‘Laz Live’ in June 2019, allowing sellers and invited hosts to conduct live streaming shows to engage with their users
Termed ‘Shoppertainment’ by Lazada, this feature was launched in Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
In the same month, Shopee also launched the same feature. Theirs is called Shopee Live, and covered the same markets as Lazada as well as other markets.
Shopee did not stop there. Taking it a step further, they launched ‘Shopee Quiz’ together with their livestreaming function
An interactive game show, ‘Shopee Quiz’ is hosted by familiar faces of local influencers.
To gain more traffic, they gave away Shopee Coins and multiple products from participating brands as well as allowed users to invite participants.
Subsequently, they also introduced Shopee Feed, which replicated the ‘Instagram experience’ on Shopee, allowing brands to hold giveaways, and enabling users to comment and ‘like’ posts
The user interface is well-designed and user-friendly, featuring specially curated posts by brands and gave more credibility to the site.
Lazada had also launched a similar feed function back in early 2019, but it did not gain much traction. The user interface was not as intuitive, and the posts seemed like they were AI generated.
This, as a result, could have deterred customers from using the function.
In order to build brand loyalty and create memorable experiences for users, Shopee’s business model focuses a lot on hyperlocalised activities to cater to the demands of each market.
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