Three reasons why retailers in Asia are upgrading their ecommerce platforms

There are currently almost an endless array of technologies and innovations that retailers can invest in as they look to future-proof their business and meet the expectations of the next generation of customers. But when Tofugear surveyed retail executives across Asia as part of its 2019 Asia Digital Transformation Report, it was striking to see that the biggest technology investment priority for retailers was actually ecommerce platforms.

One in two respondents (53%) indicated that they will invest in their ecommerce platform over the next 12 months, while a further 20% stated that they would do so over the next two to four years. Contrast that to last year’s edition of the survey, when just a quarter of respondents said that they intended to invest in their ecommerce platform over the next year. In 2018, business intelligence and data analytics was the most pressing investment area.



In today’s omnichannel age, it may seem odd for retailers to still invest so heavily in their ecommerce platforms. After all, many retail businesses have already had their ecommerce platforms in place for some time now. However, here are three reasons why ecommerce is being placed at the top of retailers’ ‘to do list’:


1. Competition from ecommerce giants


Tofugear’s digital transformation survey included responses from retailers based in countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia, where marketplaces such as Lazada and Shopee are dominating the online retail scene. With these marketplaces offering sophisticated personalisation and often a wide range of fulfilment services, local retailers have had to invest in their own ecommerce storefronts as they mount a fightback.


2. The omnichannel challenge


When retailers were asked what they thought was the single biggest challenge they are currently facing, one in five mentioned the ability to achieve omnichannel retail. Consumer expectations have increased dramatically in recent years and shoppers need ecommerce sites to offer functionality such as being able to check stock in specific stores or arranging click-and-collect in any location they prefer.

 At the same time, retailers are also looking to use their stores as local fulfilment hubs for online orders. To do so, retailers need to have a single view of inventory and use a distributed order management system. As part of this investment, retailers are making the necessary upgrades to their websites to accommodate such an omnichannel approach.


3. Taking account of emerging technologies


There was a surge in investment in ecommerce platforms just over five years ago – when many retailers transitioned to mobile optimised sites – but technology and consumer demands have continued to evolve since then. An increasing number of retailers are now turning to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence to upgrade the customer experience on their ecommerce platforms.


For instance, visual search technology is a seamless way for customers to get the appropriate search results based on images of a product they are looking for. AI-driven chatbots and the ability to offer voice assisted ordering through smart speakers such as Google Home are also being considered by retailers.


To gain full insight into the findings of our Digital Transformation Survey, download the full report for free by clicking here. Also, do not hesitate to get in touch with us as [email protected] if you want to find out more about how we can help optimise your omnichannel strategy.

Terence Ng

Terence Ng

Terence is a Retail Analyst at Hong Kong-based retail innovation company Tofugear. Over the last eight years he has worked at multiple market research firms, including Coresight, Nielsen and Ipsos, as well as at Hong Kong retail giant AS Watson. Terence started his career as Assistant Consultant in Cimigo