How tech can help smaller brands scale in SEA by helping them maintain customers’ loyalty

tech tools SME

The world has been wracked by a still-ongoing worldwide pandemic. It’s hard to make plans for the future, or even think about the prospect of growth when most businesses are already struggling to stay above the red line.

Yet, digital evolution is necessary for businesses to survive especially now when the way we live and do business has changed almost entirely beyond recognition.

Despite Singapore’s renewed emphasis on digitalisation, it seems to be taking a much longer time for smaller businesses to catch up. Just last year, the Association of Small Medium Enterprises and Microsoft reported that up to 54 per cent of Singapore’s SMEs said that COVID-19 had set back their digital transformation, with over 84 per cent intentionally delaying plans for overseas growth.

You cannot blame them. Tech innovations created to troubleshoot everything from labour-intensive marketing campaigns to the messiness behind multi-market rewards programs tend to not only be expensive but difficult to customise and manage as well. It is like handing an infantry soldier a tank and asking them to drive it into battle with no prior experience.

That is why tech tools need to evolve to keep up with the needs of smaller businesses. I am the founder of Stash, an incentive tech startup that’s changing the way businesses keep their customers loyal and committed.

We have been pioneering the forefront of the tech revolution with a suite of software products that include, among others a mobile-based platform that brings together over 1,000 reward partners onto a single screen.

Smaller brands should have that option too. That is why I’m highlighting some of the ways businesses can scale sustainably and intelligently in 2021, to make the most of their digital transformation.

Also Read: Tech for good: How Ula aims to facilitate the needs of small businesses in emerging market

Keeping customers in your funnel

Contrary to popular belief, it is just as important to secure new customers as it is to keep your old customers satisfied. Despite this fact, many businesses continue funnelling the lion’s share of their marketing dollar towards customer acquisition campaigns, creating new product and service offerings, or even amending existing operational structures to adapt to larger demographics.

But the costs of acquiring new customers are high and the cost of losing loyal customers even higher. Studies have shown that the costs of acquiring new customers can cost up to five times more than the cost of retaining an existing customer.

In addition, building customer loyalty pays off- existing customers are five times more likely to procure your service or product, and increasing customer retention by five per cent can even increase your profits from 25-95 per cent.

Building a structured customer incentive programme, a system that rewards loyalty and repurchases to keep new customers in your sales funnel, also allows you to retain newly acquired demographics without experiencing a “customer drain”.

The problem is, it’s harder than ever to keep your customers in the loop with the massive variety of consumer choices that are now available online. Spoilt by the new generation of digital retail experiences, consumers have become less forgiving and more demanding of brands, with over 78 per cent of consumers changing their favourite brands during the pandemic last year.

Higher expectations for products and services have led to brands actively finding new ways to spice up their customers’ retail experience: from omni-channel retail, next-gen payment technologies, to on-demand same-day shipping.

So how should brands today ensure that they have the correct systems in place to keep their demographics happy and engaged?

Also Read: What are the best marketing tools for early-stage tech startups?

Appeal to universal customer incentives

The trick is to build for your market.

This is an especially important strategy for small businesses located in SEA given the massive cultural and geographical diversity of markets across the region. SEA is a hotspot for businesses right now and Singapore has recently been touted as the “next Silicon Valley of Asia,” a prime location for commerce, investment and expansion.

This news is all the more welcome for local SMEs which are in a naturally advantageous position to penetrate the neighbouring cities across shared waters.

The problem is that it is difficult to penetrate new markets with a marketing strategy that’s flexible enough to target different demographics, yet robust enough to manage the scale of the operation.

From basic differences in national languages to nuances in customer behaviour and preferences for particular ad-types, the variations in market preferences have to be catered to for businesses looking to expand regionally.

Luckily, some similarities do exist among SEA countries. One of them is a clear shift towards mobile-first usage and a marked increase in mobile-first penetration in the region.

The pandemic has inadvertently created a “forced adoption” of digital platforms for more than 90 per cent of shoppers, and nowhere has that trend leaned more heavily towards mobile adoption than in Asia, where five of the world’s top ten countries with the highest smartphone penetration rates are located. The smartphone is where it’s at, and brands would do well to build marketing and sales channels that cater to the mobile-based preferences of those living in the region.

The other similarities are universally appealing sets of customer incentives that can help you build customer loyalty. One such incentive comes in the form of customer rewards, such as gift vouchers, freebies, loyalty points and membership perks.

Regardless of the time or the place, it’s hard to argue against the power of a freely proffered gift, which is why so many of Stash’s partners have jumped aboard our Stash Connect incentives suite, where customers can pick and choose from incentives on merchants like Grab, Lazada and Dairy Farm.

Also Read: microLEAP raises US$3.3M to help small businesses raise funds via Shariah-compliant means in Malaysia

It’s all about automation

Building a marketing campaign that is specific and general at the same time seems impossible. How can we create campaigns that can target individuals, while running them across multiple markets? It sounds like a logistical and operational nightmare.

The trick is to adopt tech that can help you to automate individual marketing channels and support large-scale marketing outreach. Automation allows us to do everything, from issuing reward vouchers, collecting delivery addresses, managing customer profiles and more with a speed and ease that would be otherwise impossible using purely human-managed operators and systems.

For example, most tech platforms have in-built market localisations that can be turned on from a central system. Currently, Stash offers a range of more than seven language selections across 14 different markets, which can be adapted for the market preferences of your specific campaigns.

That means that there’s no need to hire translators or redo marketing materials to cater to different markets- the option is already there for you to instantly translate your value offerings to your intended audiences.

Tech providers are also offering unprecedented autonomy for brands, with a range of back end services that allow you to do everything from create different customer tiers, manage reward redemptions and even collect and analyse customer behavioural data.

This allows you to build marketing campaigns that are not only customised for your desired audience, but to also extract the results of your efforts, analyse the data, and formulate next-steps to further optimise your marketing and sales strategies.

For example, you may find that customers aren’t responding well to the rollout of your incentive campaign – but a tiny demographic of particularly tech-savvy Gen Z audiences have consistently been using QR codes as payment channels to claim their rewards and make purchases on your store.

By leveraging that insider data and streamlining your QR code payment channels, you can use the data consolidated from online activity to rapidly respond to customer behaviour, staying one step ahead of your followers and competition.

Also Read: 5 ways that will help SMEs scale even amidst a pandemic

Fighting for the underdogs

It has not been easy to stay ahead of the curve, even for major brands. That is why Asia’s biggest players brands like Amex, HP, Prudential, Microsoft and Simply Energy have become far more discerning with their choice of tech tools.

Our partners have elected for Stash’s suite of services because we offer a service that allows companies to have full control over their multi-market incentive campaigns while keeping their customers in the loop.

At the same time, I personally hope to see more small businesses follow suit. Asia is a market with high potential for growth, and small businesses are as much a part of the race as their larger brothers.

By investing into tech tools strategically, in a way that can actively allow them to capture, retain and expand market share at an unprecedented pace, small businesses, which are built to be lean, quick and flexible, can not only hope to catch up with – but even overtake titans of industry.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing contributions from the community. This season we are seeking op-eds, analysis and articles on food tech and sustainability. Share your opinion and earn a byline by submitting a post.

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community or like the e27 Facebook page

Image credit: Stephen Dawson on Unsplash

The post How tech can help smaller brands scale in SEA by helping them maintain customers’ loyalty appeared first on e27.

,
tech tools SME

The world has been wracked by a still-ongoing worldwide pandemic. It’s hard to make plans for the future, or even think about the prospect of growth when most businesses are already struggling to stay above the red line.

Yet, digital evolution is necessary for businesses to survive especially now when the way we live and do business has changed almost entirely beyond recognition.

Despite Singapore’s renewed emphasis on digitalisation, it seems to be taking a much longer time for smaller businesses to catch up. Just last year, the Association of Small Medium Enterprises and Microsoft reported that up to 54 per cent of Singapore’s SMEs said that COVID-19 had set back their digital transformation, with over 84 per cent intentionally delaying plans for overseas growth.

You cannot blame them. Tech innovations created to troubleshoot everything from labour-intensive marketing campaigns to the messiness behind multi-market rewards programs tend to not only be expensive but difficult to customise and manage as well. It is like handing an infantry soldier a tank and asking them to drive it into battle with no prior experience.

That is why tech tools need to evolve to keep up with the needs of smaller businesses. I am the founder of Stash, an incentive tech startup that’s changing the way businesses keep their customers loyal and committed.

We have been pioneering the forefront of the tech revolution with a suite of software products that include, among others a mobile-based platform that brings together over 1,000 reward partners onto a single screen.

Smaller brands should have that option too. That is why I’m highlighting some of the ways businesses can scale sustainably and intelligently in 2021, to make the most of their digital transformation.

Also Read: Tech for good: How Ula aims to facilitate the needs of small businesses in emerging market

Keeping customers in your funnel

Contrary to popular belief, it is just as important to secure new customers as it is to keep your old customers satisfied. Despite this fact, many businesses continue funnelling the lion’s share of their marketing dollar towards customer acquisition campaigns, creating new product and service offerings, or even amending existing operational structures to adapt to larger demographics.

But the costs of acquiring new customers are high and the cost of losing loyal customers even higher. Studies have shown that the costs of acquiring new customers can cost up to five times more than the cost of retaining an existing customer.

In addition, building customer loyalty pays off- existing customers are five times more likely to procure your service or product, and increasing customer retention by five per cent can even increase your profits from 25-95 per cent.

Building a structured customer incentive programme, a system that rewards loyalty and repurchases to keep new customers in your sales funnel, also allows you to retain newly acquired demographics without experiencing a “customer drain”.

The problem is, it’s harder than ever to keep your customers in the loop with the massive variety of consumer choices that are now available online. Spoilt by the new generation of digital retail experiences, consumers have become less forgiving and more demanding of brands, with over 78 per cent of consumers changing their favourite brands during the pandemic last year.

Higher expectations for products and services have led to brands actively finding new ways to spice up their customers’ retail experience: from omni-channel retail, next-gen payment technologies, to on-demand same-day shipping.

So how should brands today ensure that they have the correct systems in place to keep their demographics happy and engaged?

Also Read: What are the best marketing tools for early-stage tech startups?

Appeal to universal customer incentives

The trick is to build for your market.

This is an especially important strategy for small businesses located in SEA given the massive cultural and geographical diversity of markets across the region. SEA is a hotspot for businesses right now and Singapore has recently been touted as the “next Silicon Valley of Asia,” a prime location for commerce, investment and expansion.

This news is all the more welcome for local SMEs which are in a naturally advantageous position to penetrate the neighbouring cities across shared waters.

The problem is that it is difficult to penetrate new markets with a marketing strategy that’s flexible enough to target different demographics, yet robust enough to manage the scale of the operation.

From basic differences in national languages to nuances in customer behaviour and preferences for particular ad-types, the variations in market preferences have to be catered to for businesses looking to expand regionally.

Luckily, some similarities do exist among SEA countries. One of them is a clear shift towards mobile-first usage and a marked increase in mobile-first penetration in the region.

The pandemic has inadvertently created a “forced adoption” of digital platforms for more than 90 per cent of shoppers, and nowhere has that trend leaned more heavily towards mobile adoption than in Asia, where five of the world’s top ten countries with the highest smartphone penetration rates are located. The smartphone is where it’s at, and brands would do well to build marketing and sales channels that cater to the mobile-based preferences of those living in the region.

The other similarities are universally appealing sets of customer incentives that can help you build customer loyalty. One such incentive comes in the form of customer rewards, such as gift vouchers, freebies, loyalty points and membership perks.

Regardless of the time or the place, it’s hard to argue against the power of a freely proffered gift, which is why so many of Stash’s partners have jumped aboard our Stash Connect incentives suite, where customers can pick and choose from incentives on merchants like Grab, Lazada and Dairy Farm.

Also Read: microLEAP raises US$3.3M to help small businesses raise funds via Shariah-compliant means in Malaysia

It’s all about automation

Building a marketing campaign that is specific and general at the same time seems impossible. How can we create campaigns that can target individuals, while running them across multiple markets? It sounds like a logistical and operational nightmare.

The trick is to adopt tech that can help you to automate individual marketing channels and support large-scale marketing outreach. Automation allows us to do everything, from issuing reward vouchers, collecting delivery addresses, managing customer profiles and more with a speed and ease that would be otherwise impossible using purely human-managed operators and systems.

For example, most tech platforms have in-built market localisations that can be turned on from a central system. Currently, Stash offers a range of more than seven language selections across 14 different markets, which can be adapted for the market preferences of your specific campaigns.

That means that there’s no need to hire translators or redo marketing materials to cater to different markets- the option is already there for you to instantly translate your value offerings to your intended audiences.

Tech providers are also offering unprecedented autonomy for brands, with a range of back end services that allow you to do everything from create different customer tiers, manage reward redemptions and even collect and analyse customer behavioural data.

This allows you to build marketing campaigns that are not only customised for your desired audience, but to also extract the results of your efforts, analyse the data, and formulate next-steps to further optimise your marketing and sales strategies.

For example, you may find that customers aren’t responding well to the rollout of your incentive campaign – but a tiny demographic of particularly tech-savvy Gen Z audiences have consistently been using QR codes as payment channels to claim their rewards and make purchases on your store.

By leveraging that insider data and streamlining your QR code payment channels, you can use the data consolidated from online activity to rapidly respond to customer behaviour, staying one step ahead of your followers and competition.

Also Read: 5 ways that will help SMEs scale even amidst a pandemic

Fighting for the underdogs

It has not been easy to stay ahead of the curve, even for major brands. That is why Asia’s biggest players brands like Amex, HP, Prudential, Microsoft and Simply Energy have become far more discerning with their choice of tech tools.

Our partners have elected for Stash’s suite of services because we offer a service that allows companies to have full control over their multi-market incentive campaigns while keeping their customers in the loop.

At the same time, I personally hope to see more small businesses follow suit. Asia is a market with high potential for growth, and small businesses are as much a part of the race as their larger brothers.

By investing into tech tools strategically, in a way that can actively allow them to capture, retain and expand market share at an unprecedented pace, small businesses, which are built to be lean, quick and flexible, can not only hope to catch up with – but even overtake titans of industry.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing contributions from the community. This season we are seeking op-eds, analysis and articles on food tech and sustainability. Share your opinion and earn a byline by submitting a post.

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community or like the e27 Facebook page

Image credit: Stephen Dawson on Unsplash

The post How tech can help smaller brands scale in SEA by helping them maintain customers’ loyalty appeared first on e27.

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