While COVID-19 continues to impact Southeast Asia’s economy, it has also highlighted the resilience and ingenuity of humankind. This spirit has perhaps been best illustrated by small and medium-sized businesses owners across the region who have found innovative ways to tackle pandemic-related challenges.
Faiz Daffa Fathullah is one such example. The 19-year-old owns Antarestar, a store that sells outdoor and sporting equipment on Lazada Indonesia. At the beginning of the pandemic, his business suffered a loss as many popular hiking and outdoor activity sites were closed to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“I was thinking hard about how to survive in this pandemic era. I also didn’t want to lay off employees because during this pandemic, it’s hard to find job,” he said. Instead of feeling defeated, the young entrepreneur turned to Lazada’s Bocoran Peluang feature, which provides insights into potential and in-demand goods, and also researched market trends to develop new products that met emerging needs of pandemic-era consumers. “This strategy worked and helped increase sales so that we could survive,” Faiz said.
Entrepreneurs Empowered by ECommerce
Faiz is not the only entrepreneur who has harnessed the power of eCommerce during this tumultuous time. As the fourth wave of COVID-19 swept across Vietnam, Vu Duy Khanh, a Lazada seller for the past six years, opened his third store, Vuon Nha Me, on the platform to get high-demand agricultural products to consumers. Despite having no previous experience in selling fresh food products online, Vu said Lazada’s dedicated support and robust logistics network allowed him to deliver goods to consumers quickly and safely.
“The fourth pandemic wave in Vietnam has seriously affected the retail market. However, thanks to Lazada’s support, my stores can maintain a certain growth during this difficult time,” Vu shared. During the 11.11 one-day shopping festival last week, Vu’s new store sold more than 400 kg of vegetables and 4,000 eggs, recording a 150% increase in orders as compared to a normal sales day.
With its low entry barrier and its wide array of tools and resources, Lazada has become the go-to platform for many sellers, especially new ones such as Rizqi_Enterprise founder Muhammad Naqib Bin Othman.
“I wanted to enjoy the flexibility of running my own business and spending more time at home,” said Naqib, who recently left a decade-long career in the film industry. His store on Lazada sells children’s clothes to parents who are unable or reluctant to shop at brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic. Aside from being able to set up this store with very little capital, Naqib has benefited from the many forms of support offered on Lazada, including training courses hosted by Lazada University as well as various marketing and promotional tools. These resources allowed him to get his business quickly off the ground, and despite only launching in June, he’s already participated in several mega campaigns, including 11.11.
11.11: An Event with a Difference
As Southeast Asia’s biggest one-day shopping festival, 11.11 has become a major source of optimism for sellers amid the ongoing pandemic. In fact, this year’s 11.11 saw more than 800,000 participating sellers and brands, a number that was double that of last year’s.
Bangkok-based Nana Coffee Roasters, for example, started selling its beans online via Lazada after business at its physical locations plummeted due to the lockdown. Seeing promising results, Nana decided to take part in its first 11.11 this year as a way to recover from earlier losses and also to continue building up brand awareness. “We were very excited because we heard that this is the biggest event that Lazada hosts,” said Nana Coffee Roasters founder Wasin Kusakabe.
Being relatively new to eCommerce, he added that Lazada’s support has been crucial: “We’ve received a lot of tips and tricks on how to market and engage with our customers. It really helps to bolster our sales and our confidence in selling online.” This 11.11, his revenue skyrocketed by more than 5,000% compared to that of an average day.
The significance of 11.11 continues to be unmatched even to eCommerce veterans like Gesika Baylon. Baylon started her Philippines-based skincare store Greenika on Lazada in 2018 and took part in her first 11.11 the following year. “We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the results on our dashboard,” she said. While her business easily generates seven-digit incomes during weeklong mega campaigns, her biggest revenue of the year still happens during 11.11. “And it happens in just one day,” she said.
In the lead-up to this year’s 11.11, shoppers collected more than $410 million worth of Lazada Bonus vouchers. And to understand just how much this excitement means to sellers, one only needs to look at the amount of preparation online businesses have undertaken in the past few months. According to Lazada’s Digital Commerce Confidence Index, four out of five sellers revealed that they were increasing their inventory levels and 47% said they would bolster their workforces ahead of 11.11 and other mega campaigns. Buoyed by the year-end shopping festival season, 76% of the 900 sellers surveyed said they were expecting more than 10% sales growth this quarter.
“11.11 is the biggest campaign of the year. A lot of buyers come in and buy things, and the way they spend money is different from other campaigns or normal days because Lazada also offers a lot of attractive vouchers, discounts, giveaways and things like that,” said Liang Wee Ling, who operates the mother and baby products store 8miles on Lazada Singapore.
Liang spent four months preparing for this year’s event to ensure that she would have adequate stock and also packing capabilities. It’s a lot of work, but the benefits, she says, are more than worth it. Aside from the on-the-day boost to traffic and sales, 11.11 plays a crucial role in ensuring a business’ long-term success. Not only are sellers more likely to receive ratings for orders during 11.11, they gain exposure to more shoppers, many of whom have a high chance of becoming regulars.
These benefits are what make 11.11 a truly special occasion. As Liang put it: “You must join 11.11. It is something you cannot miss.”
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