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  • By: LazBeat Staff
  • Dec 15, 2020

Online Revolution: The Story of Mega Shopping Festivals in Southeast Asia

Since Lazada was founded in 2012, it has built a strong reputation for creating large-scale shopping events that deliver unbeatable deals, promote new products and generate huge opportunities for brands and businesses to reach large swaths of consumers.

Such mega campaigns have become mainstays of the retail calendar in Southeast Asia, especially among increasingly digitally savvy consumers. A survey by the mobile survey platform Jakpat in 2019 found that 75 per cent of consumers in the prime 15–39 age group in Indonesia bought something online during 12.12, an annual e-shopping event Lazada created, which is also known locally as Harbolnas.

This was a mere seven years from the time Lazada came up with 12.12. At the time, the company was just a nine-month-old start-up in Jakarta looking to get its business off the ground and to change customers’ ambivalence towards online shopping. “We needed to find a way to really boost our business. And we of course, looked to around the world, especially to China where in 2012, 11.11 – or Singles’ Day as it was called back then – was sort of the first time it really became a bit of a global phenomenon,” said Magnus Ekbom, Lazada Group’s chief strategy officer.

Inspired by China’s massively successful online shopping festivals, Lazada launched its very first and very own 12.12 that year. This was Indonesia’s first eCommerce festival. Aptly named Online Revolution Week, it accelerated the country’s embrace of online shopping. Lazada brought together seven eCommerce companies, including the Lippo Group’s Matahari Mall, and niche marketplaces such as to drive the campaign forward.

The maiden 12.12 was a huge triumph by the standards of the time, bringing in approximately 1,500 orders in Indonesia, Ekbom recalled. Its growth since has been astronomical. Not only is 12.12 now a multiday affair covering all the six markets in which Lazada operates, but during this year’s campaign, hundreds of thousands of orders were made in just the first few minutes.

Engaging Consumers, Empowering Merchants

Lazada’s mega campaigns have continued to expand way beyond 12.12. It launched its first 11.11 Shopping Festival in 2013 and Lazada’s campaign portfolio now also includes the 6.18 Mid-Year Shopping Festival and 9.9 Big Brands Sale.

These massive events have grown not only in number but also in purpose. Ekbom explained: “In the beginning, it was more about first-time buyers and first-time sellers finding a way to start trying eCommerce for the first time. Now, this is a professional business on a global scale.”

Indeed, such large-scale online shopping events have an especially pronounced impact on businesses and the regional economy. A McKinsey study in late 2018 estimated that in Indonesia alone, eCommerce is expected to create – directly and indirectly – more than 26 million full-time jobs by 2022. And as more merchants recognize the benefits of moving online, mega campaigns have become one of the most effective ways to turbocharge their success.

Just ask Aseel Abri, 21, who ventured into eCommerce while still in high school, and now runs Bacter Online Shop, selling gemstones from Loloda Village in North Maluku, where he has relatives. This province in eastern Indonesia is one of the country’s least populated.

Abri is involved in Lazada’s many seller programmes. When he took part in his first mega campaign last 11.11, he received more than 700 orders a day. Ordinarily, he gets only 10 to 20 a day. Since then, he has also participated in 12.12, with similarly stellar results and has become one of Lazada’s top sellers with thousands of monthly orders – a feat that has also boosted the income of Loloda’s villagers.

He said: “I joined 11.11 because I was curious about Lazada’s mega campaigns and I wanted to test the waters. I was really surprised by how much exposure it brought to my business. It really helped build up my reputation and my customer base.”

For merchants like Abri, Lazada provides not just a platform during mega events but also the support essential to achieving success. So, for example, to help merchants navigate 11.11 and 12.12, Lazada creates one-stop campaign portals updated often with the latest information, including performance trackers, tips and strategies to boost engagement and transactions as well as a variety of video tutorials.

In the lead-up to its biggest campaigns, the Lazada team also hosts seller conferences and regular livestreams to help merchants prepare. In addition, Lazada leverages its data capabilities and Alibaba’s digital infrastructure and ecosystem to alert top brand partners about the usage of their promotions to consumers, whether an item is out of stock or if any milestone is achieved. These real-time updates across all six markets are communicated via DingTalk, a messaging app, and powered by Lazada’s “Business Advisor Enterprise” data solutions, which equip the brands with the visibility to make timely responses that optimise their selling opportunities.

Besides this wealth of eCommerce tools and resources – vouchers, free shipping offers and real-time campaign analysis data – Lazada’s Shoppertainment features in recent years have also proven instrumental in fueling exposure and transactions for brands and businesses. During this year’s 11.11, merchants were able to use livestreaming, in-app games and even an interactive “Voucher Rain” segment during Lazada’s Super Show to engage with consumers. Thanks to these tools and other forms of support provided, more than 8,000 small-and-medium merchants generated over US $10,000 in sales during the 24-hour period.

While such Lazada blockbusters rake in massive volumes of transactions, to Ekbom, they are far more than just big sales events. “These campaigns have been used over the years as a driving force for new customers, new sellers and new brands to come online and to have a big event – something to have as a lighthouse, milestone and achievement throughout the year,” he explained. “It’s all about pushing the boundaries and setting new benchmarks. That is really what we do during our mega campaigns.”

Featured photo below shows a collection of campaign posters since 2012. 

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