Retail in Asia: how are the markets recovering?

In this special, on-demand session as part of MAPIC & LeisurUp Digital, the panel focused on retail in Asia and market recovery, with Esterina Nervino, Retail in Asia director, Bluebell Group asking Filippo Gori, general manager APAC, Geox; Ada Yang, head of social community, Pinduoduo; and Anders Heikenfeldt, chief retail officer, Pomelo Fashion about how seamless retail trends in Asia are being shaped in China and the wider Asia Pacific region.

In China, one advantage [for e-commerce]is that you have really good mobile penetration and mobile payment penetration,” said Ada Yang, head of social community, Pinduoduo, a Chinese-based e-commerce platform that offers a wide range of products from daily groceries to home appliances across its retail channels. Pinduoduo’s twist lies in its integration of social components into an ‘experience online’ shopping process, which the company describes as the ‘team purchase’ model.

By sharing Pinduoduo’s product information on social networks such as WeChat and QQ, users can invite their contacts to form a so-called shopping team to get a lower price for their purchases. The mechanism keeps the users motivated and better hooked to the platform for a more interactive and dynamic shopping experience online.

So what we have seen on our platform is that people really wanted to come to our platform to have these social interactions,” she said of retail in Asia.

There is a lot of entertainment going on and the merchants have been adopting new ways to better engage with their users like live streaming, we have farmers giving virtual tours of their farmland, of oranges and you know to connect, to show our consumers what are the real people behind the real products, says Ada Yang, head of social community, Pinduoduo

Retail Asia: Retail experiences and retail innovations

The point was picked up by Anders Heikenfeldt, chief retail officer, Pomelo Fashion, who also emphasised the need for consumer engagement, especially during a period of such great uncertainty among retailers in Asia.

Everyone working in this space really needs to start working with the community of their consumers and users, apart from just transaction selling products to them,” he said, stressing that at a volatile period the company decided that it was an opportunity to invest rather than back off in Asia, because it still believes in the potential of the region.

We took the decision to go big or go home,” he said.

Filippo Gori, general manager APAC, for Italian footwear retailer Geox, reflected that China had been heavily impacted by the pandemic and the loss of tourism, so that store-based retail had needed to redress and recover the situation to bolster retail in Asia. A major part of this is the need for new thinking and retail innovation, he stressed, though he worried that many landlords remained stuck in old thinking about the retail business model in Asia.

If real estate only thinks about shopping malls in terms of efficiency per square feet and in sales per square feet they can generate, I think that is a model that nowadays is not going to go anywhere, says Filippo Gori, general manager APAC, for Italian footwear retailer Geox.

I don’t see much of this holistic approach happening among many real estate developments.”

Heikenfeldt concurred and said that real estate owners need to take advantage of the prime locations that they have in major cities around the world to partner more with tenants and digital businesses to rethink what their spaces can achieve. Rather than thinking of themselves as shopping malls, they need to think of themselves as “part of the retail eco-system” he said.

Retail trends in Asia: Collaboration to boost retail sales

Yang added that Pinduoduo has been working in collaboration with some shopping centres and store locations to bring events to physical spaces, attracting people to see products demonstrated and explained in locations such as Shanghai.

The advantage of digital is that you can then leverage this content to reach so many more people who were not able to visit Shanghai,” she said of an offline/online strategy.

Esterina Nervino, Retail in Asia director, Bluebell Group, introduced the presentations and ideas debated during the session featuring Filippo Gori, general manager APAC, Geox; Ada Yang, head of social community, Pinduoduo; and Anders Heikenfeldt, chief retail officer, Pomelo Fashion. They were speaking at a special session called Asia: How Are The Markets Recovering?, broadcast during MAPIC & LeisurUp Digital 2020, which brought the core retail and leisure industry trends together across a series of insightful live and on-demand sessions.

Watch the session in full below:

Also, read a Bluebell report on southeast Asia retail market, and an article on Asia channels retail growth.


About Author

Mark Faithfull

Mark Faithfull is Editor of the MAPIC Preview and News Magazines, as well as Editor of online publication and analysis specialist Retail Property Analyst.

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