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Indonesia 2015: Thought Leadership

Win with e-commerce: five steps towards future-proofing business

       Maneesheel Gautam
Leader, Invention

It was sobering news to hear the recent prediction of retiring Cisco CEO John Chambers, that more than a third of businesses will not see out the next decade. The only survivors, he said, would be those that could transform themselves into digital, technological versions of their current selves, and many of those who tried, he predicted, would fail in the attempt.

Indonesia’s Communications and Information Ministry predicts the value of e-commerce transactions in the country will hit US$24 billion in 2016 - twice the value seen in 2014. The signs are clear; we must adapt to digital change, whatever industry we are in.

Already, the traditional business models of travel, finance, motoring, baby care, music, entertainment, retail and fashion are being challenged and transformed by new e-commerce-driven models.

In Indonesia, you can use the Go-Jek delivery app or motorcycle taxi service GrabBike.com when you want to avoid the Jakarta traffic jams. You can buy furniture from Toko online, without battling the crowds of Jogja.

E-commerce in Indonesia is still nascent by world standards, due to the complexity of delivery across the archipelago, and the low uptake of digital payment methods. But while the overall rate of e-commerce is still low at just 0.8 percent of retail sales, it is forecast in the Jakarta Post to be heading for 8 percent of retail sales within 10 years. That rate of growth would make Indonesia’s online shopping sector the largest in Southeast Asia.

Brands across business sectors must start preparing for a future in which success – or survival – depends on success in e-commerce, laying strong foundations now in five key areas.

1.Win with talent

The chemistry that will be able to develop e-commerce requires a range of skills and perspectives, from traditional retail sales, digital strategy and beyond. At the heart must be a decision-maker who can build a cross-disciplinary team and draw out the best skills and ideas from each member.

2.Win with assets

Fulfilling a brand’s e-commerce starts with a great website, but that is only the beginning, particularly in a market like Indonesia, where many people’s first experience of the internet is not on a computer but a mobile phone. A brand’s digital assets have to be discoverable, shareable and shoppable – and they need to be adapted to all kinds of digital devices, especially mobile screens. A consumer’s digital experience of a brand begins before they even see the products; the digital interface needs to support their device, be easy to navigate, be optimized for different connection speeds, allow personalization of content and offer easy payment.

3.Win with insight

The TNS Connected Life study in 2014 showed that most millennial consumers, those now aged roughly between 18 and 34, research purchases and buy online. Younger generations are even more adept at managing and manipulating the digital world. We need to move away from static models of measurement towards dynamic ones, combining offline segmentation and insights with online audience information and behavioral data. People’s lives span the digital divide; insight generation and e-commerce strategies need to do the same.

This should be supported by strong CRM and data management systems. Good data management can make the difference between having vast flows of data from multiple sources, and turning that flow into actionable insights. Algorithms, attribution models and programmatic trading desks can help harness and apply this information at scale.

4.Win through partnership

In the complex world of constant innovation, it is not easy to achieve greatness alone. We need to identify our strengths and draw strength from our differences, building partnerships with other businesses that can help with innovation, insight, logistics, technology, media, and data management.

5.Win with speed

‘Launch fast, learn fast’ should be the mantra in e-commerce. Constant experimentation and adaptation at speed is essential. This approach requires an important change in mindset; we need to be willing to celebrate failure and learn from it. We need to reward those with a restless desire to innovate and improve – and accept the cost of failure as a step towards success. Experimentation is the spirit that has led pioneers in small garages and university dorms around the world to create some of today’s most valuable brands.