iStore iSend

(Photo by Jade GAO / AFP)

iStore iSend predicts tech savvy consumers to dictate e-Commerce industry

With e-Commerce fulfilment company iStore iSend hoping to make its mark in Japan, the question now is, how will the industry shape up in the next few years, especially with emerging technologies increasing customer demands.

In Southeast Asia, e-Commerce has already evolved over the last two years to provide better customer experiences and well as improve the supply chain. Yet, these challenges may be different for e-Commerce fulfilment companies as customer demands continue to change.

Joe Khoo, co-founder and CEO of iStore iSend and Tommy Yong, co-founder and Chief New Initiatives Officer of iStore iSend share their views on the trends in the industry, especially when it comes to e-Commerce fulfilment over the next few years.

Any particular trends that you see for the next few years, especially for your field of e-Commerce fulfilment?

e-Commerce fulfilment

Joe Khoo, co-founder and CEO of iStore iSend and Tommy Yong, co-founder and Chief New Initiatives Officer of iStore iSend. (Source – iStore iSend)

E-Commerce has evolved in many ways due to the competition amongst online merchants, and it will continue to evolve in the future. This is also proven true as consumers are more drawn to shop online today. What’s also interesting is that some of the evolution that we can see includes the use of sustainable packaging and the “Go Green” initiative by our local brands to address the climate issues that the world is facing. Many e-commerce retailers have already introduced environmentally friendly packages to reduce their carbon footprint.

On top of that, we also see advancements in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Some brands are using this to let customers try on make-up looks and take photos of the outfit they are wearing. Some allow customers to view products in their homes before making a purchase through a new retail experience. With brick-and-mortar stores, shoppers have the opportunity to feel, touch and try on products/services before making a purchase.

However, it is limited when it comes to an online store. “New Retail” is a concept that emerged from Jack Ma, the founder of eCommerce giant Alibaba in 2016. He stated that New Retail is a business model that converges digital and offline experiences. The revolution in retail is already there in China and is still an emerging market in Malaysia.

We can even see conversational artificial intelligence (AI) such as chatbots helping facilitate interactions between brands and customers, where they handle FAQs, suggest product recommendations, send shipping information, and promote offers.

The e-Commerce industry has immensely evolved if we were to compare it to the traditional way of e-Commerce when iStore iSend first started 10 years ago.

As the industry evolves, the influence that tech-savvy shoppers have in the e-Commerce sector is growing stronger and faster. Consequently, this has also shaped how consumers connect with brands and the demand within the e-Commerce sector for the past few years. The changes in how e-Commerce works and the changes in trends have also continuously affected the e-Commerce industry. This evolution has also contributed to and opened up more business opportunities for iStore iSend to evolve and grow in order to meet the rapid demand in the e-Commerce industry.

As demand for efficiency increases and labour challenges, robotics implementation in fulfilment warehouses will increase. Fulfilment warehouses will start to explore using automation in selected processes in the warehouse.

What do you think needs to be improved in the regional e-commerce industry, in terms of operations and customer fulfilment?

The epidemic has completely altered consumer behavior, and the e-commerce market is more dynamic than ever. Whether your business is a startup or a well-established name, shortcomings in fulfilment performance may affect growth and reduce profitability.

In terms of what and how SMEs and/or larger companies can improve their operations and customer fulfilment, they must require a strong strategy in their operations especially if you plan to grow your business.

Good planning is necessary to secure the infrastructure, systems, processes, and team in order to succeed. It is also advisable to constantly evaluate your process and planning to make sure that you are running efficient operations; when you have smooth and efficient operations, you can also meet customers’ expectations.

Businesses need to also look at the way consumers connect with brands and slowly shift to digitalization. The influence tech-savvy consumers bring to the e-Commerce sector is growing stronger and these changes have continuously opened up business opportunities for retailers and widened their customer reach. This has not only aided the transition towards digitalization but also increased product demand and unlocked doors for SMEs to grow their businesses.

Meanwhile, it is also important for us to have effective warehouse and inventory management systems in place. Customers may choose to purchase their products from other vendors if the company is unable to effectively store, select, pack, ship, and fulfil client orders at a high level of efficiency.

Customers and partners want to see what’s in stock and available in real-time when they order, and if what they see does not properly match what you have on hand, it may lead to difficulties like backorders, deadstock, and stockouts.

For iStore iSend, we adopt our very own proprietary system called Online Delivery and Inventory Network (ODiN) to automate our customers’ e-Commerce operations. The system mainly comprises an order management system, a warehouse management system and a transportation management system.

With the system, it increases the speed of our operations and allows us to deliver a better customer experience by fulfilling orders efficiently for quicker ordering, packing and shipping operations. It is also one of the main effective inventories and order management systems that are globally used by our clients or e-commerce sellers to make sure their business process is efficient and effective.

Real-time order processing, order updates, inventory updates and multichannel sales are now a requirement for companies to do online business in this region SEA. Multi warehouse is now being implemented by iStore iSend to reduce the processing & delivery time, especially for countries with a larger geographical area.