Although ASEAN is often referred to as a bloc, it is made up of 10 diverse countries – each with its preferences and requirements. What works in one market need not necessarily work in another. Products and services cannot simply be replicated across markets due to differences in consumer preferences, purchasing power, product regulations and local practices.
Octopus Retail Management - a provider of point-of-sale (POS) and e-commerce solutions for sales, inventory management, customer promotions and loyalty programmes – did just that when they expanded to Indonesia. They not only localised their product language to Bahasa Indonesia but also integrated backend operations with commonly used Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and payment systems in Indonesia such as Xero, Wirecard and Vantiv. This put Octopus in a strong position to sell to Indonesian clients from the get-go.
Different groups of customers respond to different channels. Today, distributorships, pop-up stores and physical payment options co-exist with e-commerce portals, mobile payments and social media marketing
Despite starting out as a purely online platform, homegrown retailer Naiise adopted a dual online-offline strategy when they expanded to Malaysia. This was because they realised physical shops were a necessary touchpoint to reach their target audience. Rather than set up shop in a generic shopping mall, they chose to co-locate their business with an artisan bakery in a heritage building. This allowed them to reach their audience by leveraging the right shopping experience.
Good local partners help companies to navigate local regulations, understand customer preferences, establish the right channels, and reduce learning curves. With complementary strengths, both companies can work together to offer a strong offering to customers – resulting in a win-win situation.
One example of this is Spuul. Spuul provides movie and TV content to users across mobile and connected devices. When they expanded to Malaysia, Spuul partnered with U-Mobile to distribute its (over-the-top) app to U-Mobile’s customers. As the 4th largest telco in Malaysia, U-Mobile had over 4 million subscribers, most of whom were urban young adults – Spuul’s target audience. This partnership thus not only enabled Spuul to increase its overseas user base very quickly but also served as a complementary service to U-Mobile.