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How far along are Southeast Asian companies on their omnichannel journey?

Where are Southeast Asian companies on the journey toward an ideal omnichannel experience?

Omnichannel engagement is the marketing technique by which companies provide the same information and service to customers regardless of device or physical location.

Many banks now offer an omnichannel experience for their customers. It does not matter whether they use the bank's app, website, ATM or even visit a teller in person - the same information and services are available at each touchpoint.

While omnichannel sounds relatively straightforward, creating a seamless flow from channel to channel is challenging for organisations as many people, processes and technology must be aligned for it to work.

So how far along are Southeast Asian companies on their journey toward an ideal omnichannel experience? Are they just starting out or have they already overcome many of the omnichannel challenges?

To find out, ClickAcademy, in association with Amazon Web Services, held roundtable discussions with client-side marketers in Bangkok, Thailand. At the Omnichannel Engagement table, Mandy Arbilo, Regional Director – ecommerce Solutions, aCommerce, attendees discussed how their brands were providing consistent messaging and services to their customers, regardless of channel.

Below is a summary of what was said on the day.

1) The availability of omnichannel technology is no longer a major challenge

Participants started the day by discussing what aspects of omnichannel were already working well. Interestingly, most said that they felt that the technology to deliver an omnichannel experience to customers across a wide range of verticals was already available.

Some systems, they said, have wider adoption outside of Southeast Asia, but as most of the omnichannel systems are cloud-based, there was nothing technically holding most companies back from starting on their omnichannel journey.

2) Marketers must overcome internally fragmented system architecture

Technical obstacles to achieving omnichannel retailing do, however, still exist at companies in Southeast Asia. Instead of with vendors, though, marketers are facing technical challenges with their own internal IT systems.

The problem is that at many companies customer data is fragmented across many legacy systems. This means that it is difficult, if not impossible, for marketers to get all the customer data into one place and then deliver it seamlessly across all channels.

If marketers want to implement omnichannel, said one delegate, then they need to 'be friendly with IT' and get to know all the existing systems which hold customer data throughout the organisation.

3) People management is key when implementing omnichannel

Another challenge faced by marketers trying to implement omnichannel is getting people within the organisation aligned toward the goal of a seamless, cross-channel customer experience.

First off, attendees said that getting management buy-in for omnichannel projects was difficult. The issue with getting senior executives on board, according to participants, is that they want to know which department will own the costs of the project and which will receive the benefits. Only when these questions are answered will management support the project.

Next, delegates said that aligning marketing toward the omnichannel goal was difficult as well. The reason for this issue was that people, processes and technology all need to be well defined for omnichannel to work - and this takes time, time which most marketers simply do not have.

Finally, participants said that because IT typically controls the data required for omnichannel journeys, they need the company's technologists buy into the strategy as well. In order for that to happen, omnichannel must become a priority for generating business outcomes, which only happens when projects have senior-level support.

Omnichannel projects, it seems, require as much people management as data management.

4) The best omnichannel companies have the customer at the centre

Finally, attendees were asked to list the qualities of companies who did omnichannel well. Among the items suggested were that omnichannel companies had the customer 'at the centre' and they were part of the company's overall vision.

Also, companies which succeeded at omnichannel created a customer experience which was well managed throughout the whole customer lifecycle, not just at touchpoints.

With such a high bar, attendees recognized that most have a long way to go on their omnichannel journey to reach where the best companies are already.

A word of thanks

Click Academy would like to thank Mandy Arbilo, Regional Director – ecommerce Solutions, aCommerce for hosting the Hyper Personalisation table and Kenneth Chong, Head of Sales, Cognitive CX, AWS for providing subject matter expertise for the day.

We'd also like to thank all the marketers who attended the event and shared their thoughts and experiences about the challenges they face implementing omnichannel - as well as some of the success stories. We hope to see you all at future Click Academy events!


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