Aadit Bimbhet joined Wunderman Thompson APAC towards the end of 2021 as regional commerce director. As someone with experience in B2C and B2B ecommerce operations for brands across fashion, apparel, beauty, electronics, and consumer goods industries this role seemed like the natural next step for him. “The role is to really support the ecommerce offering because currently especially in Asia Pacific where we have so many different markets, they're quite cluttered,” he says. “So the proposition is really to try and demystify that and reduce the complexity and really make experience the differentiator.”
Aadit explains that he recently came across a study that estimated 70 million people in Southeast Asia came online for the first time in 2020. This is a huge statistic and being in a region which has seen such growth in the past two years. Aadit taps into why he believes China is a great example of a country with a strong commerce market. “What China benefits from is its size, - where it has two billion people - a captive audience, and there's a big push supported by the government for digitisation. I think the structure in market has really led to that evolution at a much rapid pace in China.”
He explains that for the likes of Singapore and India who have large populations, emulating the success of China won’t be as straightforward because of the infrastructure of the countries. Though, he touches upon Indonesia as being a ‘focus market for brands’ because of its size, the need to support multitouch points and as it’s a ‘hotbed of innovation’. He explains: “If you look at all the deal flows that are happening, there's a lot of investment flowing into the Indonesian market. Much like India, if you follow its trajectory, there's a huge startup culture and entrepreneurial culture that's being developed in Indonesia. So what brands are doing is they're saying, ‘hey, I want to invest for the long term’. Because with 250 million consumers and a penetration rate that's still in the low 30-40%, digital has a huge opportunity, especially for categories like consumer goods and beauty.”
The commerce and ecommerce sectors are ones that have greatly been tested due to Covid. For Aadit, the fact that shopping online is a much more convenient way to purchase essential items means that he believes this method of shopping will continue in the long run. Though, for those like himself who work in the sector they will be faced with new problems as consumers look to gain more out of their shopping experiences.
“We're focusing on experience because between existing digital shoppers and new ones, it's really just going to be the experience that consumers will come to look for. The evolution is definitely going to become a multi-channel touch point. The other thing that maybe I should have mentioned is that, we look at a single channel as being ecommerce. I think what's going to happen is that there are going to be many, many touch points in the purchase. Not all of them are going to be revenue drivers. So if you ask me about direct to consumer, the majority of direct to consumer stores in the region are going to be an attribution point for revenue.”
Aadit has been in the commerce industry for many years now and he reflects on one of the biggest changes he’s witnessed in recent times: marketplaces. “Five years ago brands wanted to go more direct. Marketplaces at that point in time were still looked upon as not such a great place to list your brand. Fast forward five years from then, it's the place where they want to be. Everyone's chasing volumes in this region.”
Though he concedes that, while marketplaces are a key part of any multi-channel strategy, they are unable to offer customers the best experiences. “The question of marketplaces then becomes, how do we marry what we do an agency with creative and content and experience really well?” In particular, Aadit looks at Nike and the way the brand is moving away from marketplaces in the West, but is using marketplaces partly as an outlet store in Singapore and Malaysia. “All the new collections and new drops go on their direct consumer platform, so they have the brand pool to support that strategy. But for other brands who are dependent on marketplace, they still need to think about what are the assisted touch points that facilitate the brand story, that encourage or nurture the shoppers further down the funnel.”
The partnership between creativity, technology and commerce is one that seems to be ever-evolving. Aadit believes that ‘that technology is always going to be the foundation of any commerce initiative’, though for this to really become a success, brands need to be able to talk up their own experiences to build an ‘immersive brand’. “But I think experience is where agencies step in and add some real value, is building those differentiated experiences. How do you make those immersive experiences that tell the right brand story that encourages users in their path to purchase. That's a huge value add because creativity and content is what is bread and butter for agencies. I think technology has created some really powerful opportunities.”
As Aadit looks to the future and where the commerce sector could be headed, he urges brands to have a connected commerce experience and to take risks to ‘develop a brand story beyond a platform’.