2020 proved to be a year of learning for all of us. We witnessed businesses and consumers move away from their comfort zones in order to adapt and manoeuvre around the challenges that emerged during these unprecedented times.
The retail industry is affected the most by the effects of the pandemic. Businesses that have identified key industry and economic trends early benefited greatly, enabling them to adapt their services and operations to meet the changing demands.
There will be opportunities for growth in 2021 as we learn to adjust to the post-COVID-19 world and form business decisions around the new trends and parameters.
New trends have emerged at the back of these customer behaviour shifts and it is vital for SMEs to be on a constant lookout to capture opportunities as they weather the COVID-19 crisis. For starters, here are some that we’ve identified across the retail and logistics industries and expect to continue as the economy recovers.
Transforming business through delivery
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and shown both established and new retailers that e-commerce is a necessity. Speed of delivery is the secret for winning in the battle of online commerce, from adjusting the strategy to delivering the products and services efficiently.
Take Singapore’s estate group buys, for example. As consumers continue to work from home in Phase 3, many are opting to shop and dine from the comforts of their home. This change in behaviour has accelerated the growth of estate and community group buys during the pandemic as citizens look for ways to minimise the delivery costs for their purchases. Group buy orders can range from food, fresh groceries, to even electronics and apparel.
Along with social initiatives to support local brands, these trends result in a growing interest in hyperlocal e-commerce and deliveries, where customers seek to receive their orders at their convenience within a short time span from when the purchases were first made. It emphasises the need for retail SMEs to adjust their logistics strategy to provide prompt and reliable delivery services.
As customers ourselves, we know that prolonged and delayed delivery can be a painful experience. With the increasing demand for speed and efficiency, retail SMEs can enlist aid from logistics experts to capture new opportunities and scale their businesses.
Successful enterprises have enlisted help from logistics partners to enhance the efficiency, reliability, affordability, and flexibility of their delivery services, ultimately improving their overall capability to deliver customer satisfaction. Furthermore, working with the right delivery partner who is truly dedicated will enable you to focus on business growth instead of responding to poor delivery experience complaints.
Rise of hybrid events
The year 2020 was not easy in the events landscape. Businesses will risk missing hundreds of millions in revenue if they fail to respond to the default demand of providing a seamless shopping experience across online and offline platforms. As a result of challenges in holding physical events, organisers quickly pivoted towards virtual alternatives for conferences, concerts, marathons, and even food festivals.
For example, the annual Singapore Shilin Night Market has been a popular physical event that draws large crowds with various limited-edition Taiwanese food and product offerings. Due to the pandemic and safety regulations, the organisers had opted to launch it as the largest virtual event last year.
Pickupp had helped support the digital version of the food festival by hosting it on our web portal and mobile app. A category called “Digital Shilin 2020” was curated specially for the event, which included close to 100 unique F&B vendors. At two weekends, thousands of orders were received and fulfilled by us.
The virtual Singapore Shilin Night Market is a great example of how businesses can flourish by adjusting to the changing conditions and leveraging logistics solutions to meet new customer demands.
As physical events are gradually being introduced under stringent circumstances, we anticipate hybrid events to surface where online and offline options will be made available, making delivery an essential part of the overall experience.
Evolution of logistics models and services
Over 39 per cent of consumers in ASEAN expressed their dissatisfaction with their e-commerce experience last year, indicating delivery costs and services as main issues. Consumer frustrations can result in severe consequences if left unaddressed– making or breaking the trust in the brand. To stand out from the crowd, retail SMEs must improve their logistics processes and services, ensuring flexible options are available and that orders are fulfilled efficiently.
Most enterprises are using a fixed fleet model today, where supply cannot adapt to the volatility in delivery orders. In contrast, Pickupp uses a hybrid of freelancers and an in-house delivery fleet, allowing enterprises to cater to fluctuating levels of demand, and allowing merchants to fulfill orders of up to five-folds, especially during festive periods.
Those who also leverage technology and implement strategies to facilitate transparency and flexibility will enhance the quality of their online-to-offline customer experience, thus, improving customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Apart from offering same day, next day, and one to three day deliveries, we have recently launched our express two-hour delivery services in Singapore to provide more flexibility for merchants to better meet their customer demands.
Sustainability has also risen in importance in the past year – with Singapore recently announcing its erstwhile efforts to transition into a car-lite society. On this account, we expect walkers (agents who deliver goods on foot) and bikers to grow in popularity, given their proven efficiency and smooth delivery in crowded and dense geographical areas.
In Singapore, almost 50 per cent of our active delivery agent pool consists of walkers or bikers. We expect these numbers to grow with the expansion of Singapore’s cycling network and the public transport infrastructure.
The scaling of orders will drive hyperlocal deliveries, where merchants can rely on walkers and bikers to fulfill deliveries within their district, leveraging their mobility and flexibility as they are not affected by traffic conditions and the lack of parking spaces during peak hours. This results in an increased efficiency and costs saved on gas or parking.
With enterprises facing steep competition due to the e-commerce boom, delivery, which plays a major role in the overall customer experience, can influence purchase behaviour and brand loyalty.
To capture the new breed of customers, retail SMEs must re-evaluate their current logistics strategies and be open to adopting new approaches to meet the increasing fluctuations in demand. Partnering with established logistics companies is a great way for retail SMEs to start.
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