E-commerce players have taken growth for granted at the expense of consumers’ experience
by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
NEARLY half or 43% of Malaysian consumers are less than satisfied with their digital commerce experience, citing delivery time, delivery costs and product prices as their top three concerns.
A new report, by Blackbox Research and consumer intelligence platform Toluna, released yesterday also revealed that despite booming sales accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce players have taken growth for granted at the expense of consumers’ experience.
Blackbox Research international commercial director Yashan Cama said the study confirmed a significant change in consumer behaviour in recent months driven by an increasing necessity to shop online.
Cama said consumers are now more discerning and demanding with higher expectations.
“With 5G technology on the verge of transforming platform capabilities, current market leaders may wakeup to find themselves no longer at the front of that queue if they don’t address concerns and work to deliver a more frictionless experience,” he said.
The research, entitled “Into the Light: Understanding What Has Changed for the Asean Consumers during Covid-19”, also analysed current sentiments, expectations and behaviours of 4,780 consumers across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.
The report also stated a spike in online spending among Malaysian consumers in response to Covid-19.
Of the total subjects in the survey, 59% now spend more online, while the total online expenditure for the average Malaysian consumer has increased by 33%.
The survey added that not all brands which enjoy high usage rates are satisfying their customers.
For example, while 60% of respondents use Lazada Malaysia, the e-commerce giant’s performance was only rated average when it comes to consumer satisfaction.
However, when it comes to balancing brand use and brand satisfaction, Shopee Malaysia emerged as the strongest among e-commerce players.
Based on the report, Shopee has not only achieved an 83% market share among respondents, but it was also ranked the second-highest satisfaction rating.
Grab has the highest brand satisfaction, despite only ranking as the third most used platform.
Cama said some of the factors behind these brands’ popularity are the focus on localising their offering, as well as tapping into the purchase motivations and behavioural tic of consumers in Malaysia, such as leveraging celebrity endorsements.
“While brand giants like Shopee are ranked favourably among Malaysian consumers, the reception towards brands like Grab and Lazada demonstrated that scale of market usage does not necessarily translate to customer experience, as growth comes at the cost of greater scrutiny from consumers.
“At the end of the day, every platform needs to be on edge — even the likes of Shopee — because consumer sentiment can change overnight if service quality starts to slip,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Meanwhile, the report also identified a notable shift in consumer sentiment towards local brands as a result of the pandemic.
The survey reveals that 86% of Malaysian consumers were more likely to support local brands in the future, driven by a desire to strengthen their local communities and economy.
Notably, when asked to identify brands they are pleased or impressed with during the Covid-19 crisis, homegrown oil and gas giant Petroliam Nasional Bhd emerged as the top company for Malaysians.
Cama said the resurgence in national pride can also be attributed to consumers looking to support their own economy, and they are letting their spending dollar speak for itself by choosing to shop local.
Additionally, he said the pandemic has not only changed how and where consumers are spending their money, but it has also shifted how people are going about their day-to-day lives, which will have a tangible impact on future consumer behaviour.
Cama highlighted that since the onset of the pandemic, homes in Asean have emerged as the headquarters for learning, working and socialising.
“An overwhelming 94% of Malaysians are happy working from home, and the majority are not missing going to the movies or shopping at retail outlets.
“Consumers are not rushing back to their old habits, so this new sense of life revolving around the home hub means companies need to rethink how to build this into the consumer experience in future,” he noted.
According to Cama, the overall study has shown that the pandemic has unequivocally shifted how people identify as consumers, if businesses fail to adapt, the stakes are high.
He added that any negative interaction with a brand, particularly in times of crisis, can have long-standing effects on consumers’ sense of trust and loyalty.
In order to build resilience, he said brands need to keep a realtime pulse on customer preferences, and at the same time reimagine customer experience for a post-Covid-19 world, with care and connection at the forefront.
“Organisations today have an obsession with data. This is not a bad thing. But only by choosing to value customers as more than digital units or data points will brands emerge successful,” he said.