Going omnichannel by tapping e-commerce while keeping a brick and mortar store will be the way to go for global players in the retail space despite the increasing popularity of online transactions. However, a typical store will change its face and be more customer experience-driven instead with the use of technology.
Industry executives shared this belief during the 2018 Asia ECOMM Summit held at Manila Marriott Hotel in Pasay City on July 11.
Spearheaded by logistics company LBC Business Solutions in partnership with events organizer Asia CEO Events, the summit tackled the technological disruptions and trends brought about by e-commerce.
The advent of e-commerce has caused many establishments in the United States to close down. Despite this, however, top-level executives from the local retail industry still believe that malls may be here to stay alongside online marketplaces.
According to True Money Philippines chief executive officer (CEO) Jacqueline Van den Ende, malls are shutting down not just because more people are buying online. Another reason is they cannot keep up with the competition.
Citing Amazon and Lazada as examples, Van den Ende explained that e-commerce sites have a lot of data and strong distribution network which allow them to venture into any kind of business and monopolize it.
LBC Express vice president of corporate solutions Jerome Santos said it is a cultural thing in the Philippines.
“It’s very cultural for Filipinos to bring their families to go to the malls. The way we look at it, it’s always a balance between e-commerce and the traditional,” he said, adding that malls continue to sprout all over the country even with the rising popularity of online shopping and pop-up stores.
Microsoft Philippines chief operating officer Christian Lim agreed with Santos.
“Does it make sense for you to retire your brick and mortar? I guess my answer to that is, at this point, it doesn’t make sense,” Lim remarked.
“If you take a look at the giant players today in the e-commerce space, they’re going brick and mortar as well because they see that the future is a combination of both,” Lim continued.
What is important, he said, is how a business creates a presence in the different channels and makes the experience customer-driven.
That experience may include providing a new kind of in-store experience for the customer using technology such as that provided by Amazon’s cashier-less store, Amazon Go.
The store is powered by artificial intelligence and opened in Seattle in January 2018. Customers going into the store scan their smartphones as they enter. Meanwhile, cameras and sensors monitor them. The customer picks a product which is then placed in a virtual cart. Their total purchases are charged to the customer’s Amazon account.
On the other hand, Van den Ende cited Globe Telecom’s experiential stores which also use technology to provide a new and more interactive in-store experience for customers. “That will likely be the future of retail — omnichannel and more experience-driven,” she said.