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Asia Trends 2019
Our top five trends shaping the Asian retail market and influencing retailer strategy over the next year and beyond.
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A.S. Watson and L'Oréal's AI and AR firm ModiFace have launched a virtual makeup service.
VinMart, a leading retailer in Vietnam, is testing “Scan & Go” feature with a mobile application in 13 stores.
Shoppers need to download the VinID app and be a member to use the new feature. Once the “Scan & Go” feature is selected, shoppers can scan the barcode in the store and see the product information and prices in their electronic cart. Payment can be made upon checkout using a barcode at specific counters. Finally, shoppers can choose to pick up their shopping at the store or receive their delivery after two hours on the app.
The service is targeted at convenience-loving youths and busy shoppers. With home delivery, shoppers do not have to do the heavy lifting. Those who choose to pick up their shopping later can spend more time in the mall or watch a movie without carrying their groceries around. With the barcode payment feature, shoppers can also expect much faster payment. Special promotions will be displayed immediately for those using the app.
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FamilyMart has launched its first laundry-convenience store in the Sanchong District of New Taipei, Taiwan.
FamilyMart's new laundry convenience store, which opened last month, operates approx. 140 sq m. The store is fitted with five all-in-one washer-dryers, a service support/payment counter, an area for daily consumables, cigarettes, and more. The retailer plans to open ten more stores of this concept within the next year, with commercial districts that have a high percentage of renters an area of focus.
For greater convenience, customers can access real-time information about service availability using the FamilyMart app. They also have the option to receive a SMS notifications five minutes prior to the end of their laundry cycle. Prices range between NT$190 (US$6,2) and NT$220 (US$7.2) based on the service. Customer can also choose from 30 different methods of payment.
FamilyMart continues to test new store concepts and initiatives. Its futuristic store, which we highlighted as one of The top 17 stores to visit in Asia in 2019 is an excellent example. We have seen FamilyMart in Japan move towards a similar direction, installing laundry machines to support shoppers' wider needs albeit in mainly existing convenience stores.
Taiwan's convenience landscape is highly competitive. Retailers are launching multipurpose stores to meet lifestyle needs in addition to stocking basic food and drink. This is beginning to extend further than just paying bills, buying train tickets and picking up online deliveries, and into pharmaceutical, leisure (gym) and beauty.
7-Eleven is testing trial facial recognition payment at one of its stores in Tokyo this month.
7-Eleven will open a pilot store in collaboration with NEC. The store will be approx. 10-20 sq m and will only serve NEC Group employees. To access the store, staff will need to preregister themselves. They will then be able to enter the store by scanning their employee ID or be authenticated by a facial recognition system. To checkout, shoppers will need to scan the bar codes of products and identify themselves in the same way as before. Payment will then be deducted from the salary of the individual.
Last month, we outlined how retailers across Japan are facing increasing challenges to hiring staff at their stores. Retailers are therefore using automation and technology to drive in-store efficiencies as part of the solution. The retailer's latest initiative is small in scale and restrictive, but could be the first step towards introducing more unstaffed stores in the future. It could be rolled-out to new stores, for example, dedicated to shoppers from selected companies to service office and factory workers. While the pilot store will have no cashiers, staff members will be on hand to place orders and stock shelves
Unstaffed 7-Eleven stores in other markets, such as South Korea and Taiwan, operated by area franchise partners already exist. These unstaffed stores are more typical in size and product range relative to other 7-Eleven stores in the network.
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We’ve identified the top five trends shaping the Asian retail market and influencing retailer strategy in 2019 and beyond. Nick Miles, our head of Asia-Pacific, discusses each one and reveals what it means for suppliers in the region.
Changing lifestyles mean shoppers across Asia are becoming increasingly demanding. Shopping little and often is a growing trend and consumers expect to be able to source products anywhere, anytime and anyhow they like.
Retailers are adapting their operations in response. Convenience store chains continue to rapidly expand their networks and stores are using space in new ways. Retailers are developing smaller, more unique stores, and online delivery times are being cut.
Nick said: “Convenience is not purely about speed. Retailers that are able to meet different shopper demands through their stores, ranges, services and the experience they offer will win. These experiences will need to be fast, relevant and seamless. So, suppliers will need to ensure they also have the necessary flexibility in their businesses.”
Over the past few years, major partnerships have helped share expertise and accelerate online growth across Asia. These partnerships come in many forms as retailers, suppliers and technology businesses increasingly look to blur the boundary between offline and online. In 2019, we expect to see more partnerships emerge, existing ones develop further and the influence of Asia’s largest online players to spread across the region.
Nick said: “Asia’s online landscape is incredibly fluid and competitive. Collaboration between partners will help online expand both within individual markets and across borders, faster than previously thought. Suppliers should ensure they stay on top of the latest online partnerships.”
Asian shoppers are increasingly aware of the importance of healthy living, fresh food, nutrition and product sourcing. That’s thanks to factors like growing levels of affluence, improved education, targeted government campaigns and historical food safety scares. Retailers are responding by highlighting healthy ranges and freshness using innovative concepts, layouts and technologies.
Nick said: “Fresh food, foodservice options and health and wellness ranges will feature more prominently in-store in the future as retailers respond to changing shopping habits. Suppliers should be aware that competition for space in-store will intensify.”
Social commerce is rapidly growing in importance across Asia. Brand communication via social media platforms is commonplace, influencing shopper behaviour and giving smartphone users easy ways to shop online. Innovations will continue to emerge in 2019, as retailers and suppliers deliver targeted marketing and new ways to make online shopping more social.
Nick said: “Shopping via social media platforms is a key route to market in the region. Retailers and suppliers must therefore truly understand the landscape and have a clear social media strategy to engage shoppers and stay relevant.”
Asian consumers are exceptionally open to new technology. In 2019 we will be keeping a close eye on digital and technological innovations in Asia. We’ll look particularly at those helping retailers to differentiate their offer and raise service levels. Those that help them develop stores set up for an online future and deliver more efficient operations in the face of rising costs.
Nick said: “Technology is revolutionising the food and grocery industry in Asia. This could have big implications for how shoppers interact with brands in store in the future. However, it’s not only about a focus on customers – it’s also about reducing costs and improving efficiency. Suppliers need to understand which technologies are set to have the biggest impact on their category.”
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