There has been an e-commerce explosion this year as consumers seek safety and convenience from the comfort of their own homes using digital tools to purchase everything from durable hard goods to fashion accessories to daily living consumables like food perishables, cleaning products and even school supplies. In a 2020 study by Facebook and Bain & Co, approximately 310 million customers in Southeast Asia (ASEAN) are expected to shop online with an average spend of US$172 this year, compared to the 250 million customers and average spend of US$124 in 2018. 

As customer needs rapidly evolve, ASEAN retailers are leveraging the rise of e-commerce to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic. Companies that digitize quickly and across their entire enterprise – by adopting hybrid cloud for instance – are able to adapt more effectively to the changing consumption trends. Hybrid cloud is the best of both worlds – it allows low latency in data transfer combined with high data security offered by on-prem with the low TCO of ownership of scalable advanced analytics solutions in the cloud.  

Enhancing Online Customer Experience with Data 

Data because it is available at every step of the buying process, is having an extraordinary impact on retail. A recent study showed that retailers realized ten years of digital sales penetration in the first three months of 2020 as they have in the last ten years.  As customers shift online, the data trails they leave behind, through email opens, click-throughs, preferred member programs,  can help retailers provide personalized insights on a level like never before. What used to take years of marketing research can now be done in days or even hours with the data collected from profiles of online shoppers that is analyzed for actionable insights. Providing this high level of customer support and care to increase brand loyalty is now possible, thanks to data and the insights it delivers. 

E-commerce platforms today observe a shopper’s past search, items held in their carts, purchase patterns, and more to make timely targeted recommendations. By combining this information with other data shared by the customer or other external sources (e.g. location, weather conditions, recent travels, payment preferences, etc.) retailers can predict the customer’s needs and make the best possible suggestions to improve the shopping experience. 

While data can help deliver more personalized customer experiences, it can be challenging to achieve that as data is spread across multiple IT environments. Retailers are increasingly relying on a hybrid cloud strategy to run their business — it is not uncommon for them to store sensitive data on private cloud while running their customer-facing website on public cloud so that it can scale. One way of countering that challenge is by adopting an enterprise data cloud solution, such as Cloudera Data Platform (CDP). With CDP, retailers can quickly consolidate data across various environments (e.g., on-premises, public cloud, or private cloud), analyze it, and feed the results back to the point of purchase, in time to influence an upsell for a true win-win experience – the shopper purchases a product they need and love, and the retailer earns greater consumer trust and loyalty.

In addition to personalized insights, hybrid cloud solutions can breakdown the challenges seen in the retail environment stemming from high infrastructure costs, the inability to  handle real-time data ingestion, or the volume and the variety of IoT data, delivering deep business impact with customer-centric merchandising, increased supply chain agility and the ability to reimage a stores’ role in the buying and supply chain processes

Balancing profits with security and privacy when monetizing data

Besides using data to accurately predict and anticipate consumer needs, it can also be used to open new revenue streams. Take, for example, HelloFresh, which offers meal kits. By using Cloudera’s data platform to analyze a huge amount of customer data, the company gained a 360-degree view of its customers, which has helped it expand its offerings. Among these is “Dinner2Lunch”, which enables customers to create both dinner and a new leftover meal that they can have for lunch the next day – all with a single kit.      

As data becomes a high-value asset, we’re seeing an increasing number and scale of cyberattacks too. Case in point: Singapore-headquartered online cashback portal ShopBack reported unauthorized access to its customers’ personal data in September 2020. A month after that, Lazada’s online grocery business, RedMart, reported that personal information of its 1.1 million customers in Singapore were compromised and sold on an online forum

ASEAN governments are not alone in the world enacting new or stricter data protection laws in response to increased threats to data and the demands consumers are placing on businesses. While such regulations address consumers’ concerns on data security and privacy, it can pose a challenge for retailers, especially as they embrace hybrid cloud. As data shifts between different platforms and areas of the hybrid cloud, retailers will need a comprehensive understanding of the source of the data, how it is being used, and the potential level of exposure from this data being lost, stolen or misused. Some retailers are already using CDP to achieve that. By baking in governance and security throughout their data and analytics lifecycle with CDP, CDP offers full governance and security through their data and analytics lifecycle and use of the hybrid cloud allows full use of their data to meet their strategic goals in a risk-free manner.

Making Hybrid Cloud Work for Data-Driven ASEAN Retailers 

ASEAN retailers are rapidly digitizing and embracing hybrid cloud to traverse the uncertainty of a post-COVID-19 world. However, the benefits of such efforts can only be reaped if companies can move and analyze data wherever it is needed easily and securely. Enterprise data cloud solutions, like CDP, can help provide that flexibility while providing retailers with visibility and control on their data. With these capabilities, retailers can confidently make use of their data to capture growth opportunities in the region. In short, the future belongs to data-driven retailers producing an insight-driven business, and a flexible, secure, and open data platform at its foundation helps shape businesses moving forward. 

Read more about how we are supporting organizations such as HelloFresh leverage new opportunities in the retail industry and maximize the business benefits that come with the influx of data:

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