Asia-Pacific retailers bounce back from pandemic with new growth plans

THE pandemic has been a tough challenge for retail globally, but retailers in the Asia-Pacific are coming back stronger with plans to expand by adapting to new consumer behaviours and the online economy.

As they shift into mobile commerce and add to their service offerings, many are also paying attention to new threats related to fraud and payment security, opening up opportunities to partner with payment providers who can offer a full stack of solutions and help them leverage data for growth.

These insights were published on Monday by global financial technology services platform Stripe, based on a study conducted by Forrester with 495 respondents around the world in September 2020. Of these, 167 respondents were from Singapore, Australia and Japan.

Among the Apac retailers, 41 per cent said the crisis has an overall positive impact on their business, and 46 per cent said they were accelerating initiatives to grow revenue and innovate. More than half of the respondents said they plan to improve customer experience, adopt new business models such as subscription service offerings, and expand geographically over the next 12 months.

With the migration of consumers to online retail, retailers are facing new challenges in seizing the opportunities that arise. For example, fraud is a growing worry as 31 per cent said they have experienced increased fraud attempts and another 24 per cent said they have seen more sophisticated fraud.

They also feel hampered in leveraging data gathered from their online sales, with 40 per cent saying that they face challenges with getting sufficient reporting from their existing payment vendors.

This is where payment specialists with strong capabilities can shine, said Paul Harapin, Stripe's revenue and growth lead for Apac.

"Trends that have long been apparent in the global retail industry have dramatically accelerated in Apac due to the pandemic," he said.

"Ultimately, as more commerce moves online, digital payments infrastructure platforms that were previously thought of as cost centres will become strategic enablers to create revenue and unlock growth."

Retailers are looking for one-stop solutions, with 43 per cent of respondents saying that their top challenge was having "too many (payment) vendors to manage". Their priorities are to reduce involuntary churn, update digital wallet account information and automatically update card account information.

Despite the challenges, Apac retailers are showing surprising resilience and proactively embracing technology to solve their problems and seize new opportunities.

Some are already using machine learning to improve security, with 46 per cent using machine learning-based fraud management solutions. Another 47 per cent are looking to improve their use of data analytics over the next 12 months to inform their business model decisions, growth plans and anti-fraud strategies, as well as improve customer experience by offering the right payment methods.

"As the economic effects of the pandemic are still being felt across Asia, retailers have shown impressive resilience by being forward-looking despite significant hurdles and challenges," said Mr Harapin.

"The most dynamic, thriving companies have moved fast with agility to re-invent themselves with partners who help them leverage the power of technology and the internet economy. In doing so, they became even more resilient while capitalising on new opportunities for growth and expansion."