What eCommerce Really Means

Giulia Lina Callegari, head of e-Commerce and Luxury for Asia Pacific at OgilvyOne Giulia Lina Callegari wants more brands to stop putting electronic commerce in a box and see the future of online shopping as a continuous process that cuts across all channels of selling a product or service.

The head of eCommerce and Luxury for Asia Pacific at OgilvyOne was recently here in Manila to share her insights on continuous commerce and how businesses—small or big—should learn how to use it.

“We call it ‘Continuous Commerce’ instead of eCommerce because it means continuity for the brand and the consumer across multiple channels, devices and locations,” explains Callegari. “It’s all about end-to-end experiences that happened before, during and after the purchase. It’s about continuous business performance. [It’s] interactive and always on,” she adds.

While many marketing people still think that eCommerce is the website or the shopping cart where they have to put up images and content, continuous commerce is more than that. “It can be a shoppable window that you do for Christmas. If you are a shopping mall, how do you integrate your digital offering? Because I guarantee you, most people who go to the stores have been on the website. How do you use that to keep them with you and to convert that to sales?” she says.

OgilvyOne’s view on eCommerce as “continuous commerce” is something they actually trademarked. In a nutshell, Callegari puts continuous commerce this way: “I need consumers in all the channels they’re in and I can’t afford to think of just the website because if they find someone else in another channel, they are gone.”

Different strokes for different folks

Before embarking on that continuous commerce campaign though, brands and companies need to determine what they actually need and want. Callegari says the first order of the business is to assess the opportunity because “it’s not the same for every brand.”

“Continuous commerce in the Philippines is a great opportunity but it is a bigger one for a certain category of brands, and a smaller one for some,” she points out. She encourages brands to “look at the volume of your target audience” by starting to understand what is it that they are looking for in eCommerce. “If you look at beauty brands, for example, maybe what consumers are looking for in eCommerce are tutorials, advice, sampling or products that they can’t get in the Philippines because it is a big trend to try. If you are a shopping mall, your proposition is different because it will be about delivery—the fact that in one hour you can deliver things from different shops,” she says. Once you audit the opportunity, Callegari continues, you can understand what your “eCommerce soul” should be.

Brands should also set up the right measurement framework from the very start. “A lot of brands find that there are a lot of traffic directed at a certain product but people do not buy that product online. So at the beginning, the marketing department was like, ‘Oh, eCommerce is not being successful’. Actually, in-store sales for these products—the ones most viewed online—grew by 20 percent. So eCommerce is successful because it is driving sales. It’s just driving them to another channel,” she says.

eCommerce accounted to $1.4 trillion global sales in 2013, $400 billion of which came from Asia. The Philippines also saw a 530 percent increase in Internet users last year.

eCommerce accounted to $1.4 trillion global sales in 2013, $400 billion of which came from Asia. The Philippines also saw a 530 percent increase in Internet users last year.

More Netizens = more business

While eCommerce company Amazon and other international brands are still not here in the Philippines, this does not secure the competition. Existing brands, Callegari says, should get ready for the change that is soon to take place. “Being prepared and having ideas is what these current brands need to start thinking about,” she warns.

“Usually eCommerce grows proportionally. The more Internet users you have, the more social media users you have, the more shoppers you have,” she shares. In 2013, the Philippines saw a 530 percent increase in Internet users. The country also has one of the biggest social communities in the world. “You can look it as a funnel: the more the economy grows, then Internet penetration, then purchase power—they’re all sort of linked,” she says.

Callegari sees continuous commerce as one of the disciplines that will grow most in the next five years, judging by the number of brands planning to come here. “The challenge for us is to really help these products be relevant and effective in local markets,” she says. In OgilvyOne, she shares that they do projects around continuous channels and digital. Callegari has been helping clients look at multi-channel strategies, customer journeys and industry trends, and has worked on digital and omni-channel propositions for several international luxury brands across China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and South East Asia.

She notes that luxury consumption in Asia Pacific is going down. “This year, the luxury consumption has slowed down a little bit. What was before ‘super growth’ is now just ‘growth’, especially in China, that is why a lot of brands are focusing on other markets,” she says.

Still she sees more growth in Asia. “Clearly the balance will change, there are some countries that will grow more where people are thinking of investing a lot; there are countries that will slow down. In general, most brands will see it as an opportunity still because the market is not saturated yet,” she adds.

This is why it is essential to know how to take advantage of continuous commerce. “What is eCommerce for you? It can be something small. It can be a campaign, most importantly it can be a pilot. If we look at eCommerce the right way, everybody should do it. What is the way to do it is another discussion,” she ends.

 By Irene Fernando | First Appeared on Manila Bulletin

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