The latest e-commerce trends from research commissioned by FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), and one of the world's largest express transportation companies, shows that both Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and consumers agree that there's room for further growth in the already booming e-commerce sector. In Thailand, e-commerce's share of consumer purchases has increased in 8 out of 10 cases over the last three years and the majority (79%) predict that it will account for an increasing share of their total retail spend over the next 3 years.
The What's Next in E-Commerce survey polled small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and consumers in 11 markets in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region (AMEA) in July 2022 to explore the continuing evolution of e-commerce in the region and identify the trends that could fuel future growth.
The survey reveals that consumers are looking for innovations in personalization, "shoppertainment" and payment options that enhance their experience and at the same time, make it easier to discover new brands and make purchasing convenient. And with plenty of shopping festivals already in the calendar, consumers are looking for even more seasonal offers. Taken together, the research shows there is plenty of fertile ground for e-tailers to experiment with new approaches that can help build their customer base.
"COVID has accelerated our lifestyles to a pivot point where shopping online has been normalized across all demographics, and there's no going back. With that, e-commerce is set to take a growing proportion of total consumer spend." said Kawal Preet, president of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) at FedEx Express. "With more people shopping online consumer preferences are becoming increasingly sophisticated. As SMEs and e-merchants evolve their online sales platforms, our research uncovers opportunities for businesses to capitalize on what consumers want. Customer experience is the driving force behind how e-tailers engage with their customers and how we are innovating our shipping solutions. With an expanded portfolio specially developed for e-commerce businesses, FedEx is well positioned to support the changing expectations of consumers and the continuation of e-commerce growth."
E-commerce sector matures but further growth ahead
SMEs and consumers are maturing in their use of e-commerce and both groups agree that the pandemic-driven utilization of e-commerce is here to stay. 76% of Thai SMEs believe e-commerce will become more important in their business in the next three years.
Expectation mismatch on service experience touchpoints
As more consumers participate in the on-demand economy and increasing shipment volumes puts pressure on e-tailers, maintaining customer service quality is critical. The survey data reveals a significant 13% gap between how Thai SMEs rate their own e-commerce customer experience and how consumers view it. The biggest gaps appeared in having an efficient returns service (20%) and access to customer support (16%).
Deliveries taking too long is the number one pain consumer point (59%) followed by handling returns (40%). Consumers typically expect delivery within three days to one week, but clearly there is a desire for delivery to be at least more reliable if not faster.
Too few experienced people for too many jobs
While the future looks bright, 73% of Thai e-tailers reported they were struggling to handle the growing number of orders they were receiving. Amid surging demand talent and recruitment has proven challenging for SMEs. A further 93% had experienced extremely high levels of resignations over the past 12 months as the global Great Resignation phenomenon has impacted the region. 76% believed there were too few people for too many jobs with e-commerce marketing and sales experience being most in demand. SMEs are adopting a dual approach in response, recruiting talent from outside their business and upskilling current staff through training to meet demand in a tight employment market.
The severity of the Great Resignation has impacted SMEs in Thailand more than those in any other AMEA market. Therefore, they would likely be most receptive to support from logistics providers - particularly when it comes to filling roles or supporting training for logistics roles. This could be an opportunity for logistics providers to partner with SMEs and offer support.
Logistics providers are here to support
"E-commerce is one of the key drivers of Thai economy and there is an opportunity for greater collaboration between players within the e-commerce ecosystem. We are using our digital expertise to provide enhanced solutions to make e-commerce shipping efficient and simple for both e-tailers and end consumers. For over 40 years, FedEx has been supporting the growth of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they continue to boost their cross-border e-commerce trade," said Tien Long Woon, managing director, FedEx Express Thailand.
FedEx is integrating its services with e-commerce marketplaces so e-tailers can generate FedEx shipping labels and use additional FedEx features, such as Express Shipping Services and International Shipping Documentation Service, without leaving the platforms. Easy to use, friction free services like these make it easy to onboard new staff and help improve the work experience. In addition, FedEx(R) International Connect Plus (FICP), launched last year was recently expanded to benefit e-tailers across fourteen markets in AMEA. This value-for-money international shipping solution delivers most shipments between 1 to 3 business days within the AMEA region, which meets consumer expectations for speed of delivery according to our survey. And, delivery customization solutions like FedEx(R) Delivery Manager allows e-tailers to offer their customers the personalized service, and freedom to manage and control their shipping preferences, which today's consumer demands.