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Here’s how to shield brands from bad reviews online

Singaporeans tend to browse products online before picking up items in the physical store.

When Singaporeans buy food, cars, or clothes, they will look up the product online before visiting the shop but they can change their purchasing decisions if they spot a bad review from the store. Retailers can avoid negative reviews if they optimise customer’s journey online through better customer service and shorter delivery times.

“It’s a trend where people tend to compare the prices, or even do further research on the product before they make the final purchase, especially if it’s a high-value item,” AnyMind Singapore’s head, Yi Hui Toh, told the Singapore Business Review.

Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData’s retail, said communicating well with customers and focusing on customers’ needs will help brands avoid bad reviews online.

Better customer service

Singaporeans, like any customer globally, are very impatient. Brands can improve a customer's purchasing journey by being available for them 24/7.

“[Consumers] might look at chatting with customer service to ask about the product information, or recommendations or certain questions that they will have about the product itself,” Yi Hui said.

Yi Hui advised retailers that if they are working with third-party customer service providers, they should have a standard operating procedure or SOP to ensure that relevant questions are provided in a professional and timely manner, especially when consumers are faced with difficulties.

Guillaume Sachet, a partner at KPMG Singapore, said personalisation is still the key strategy to create a “powerful consumer experience.”

KPMG’s study advised data-driven decisions to create a connected customer experience. It suggested that brands in the city-state are investing in capabilities that “pool data from disparate data sources and customer touchpoints to create unified customer profiles and to better manage end-to-end customer journeys.”

Data is integrated in “Al and automation and can highlight signals of change in consumer behaviour and needs.”
An example of this is NTUC FairPrice, a supermarket chain in Singapore, which uses data to develop profiles of customers across different life stages and lifestyles, helping them improve the customer experience.

With their wealth of customer data such as spending patterns and other indicators for customer behaviour, they tailored exclusive offers timed with occasions and platforms most likely to appeal to their customer base.

It generated a 15% increase in their sales conversion rate, and increased cost-efficiencies in marketing and promotions.

Rob Giglio, HubSpot’s chief customer officer, advised using AI to create tailored emails specific to your customer prospect.

“Being more personalised provides pieces of information that would be helpful to the actual person that you’re emailing as opposed to borrowing a sequence that someone else wrote, and hoping that it’s going to be relevant,” said Giglio, adding that it allows much faster and better sales emails.

This could be relevant for Singapore businesses as the latest HubSpot study showed that a vast majority (96%) of business leaders in Singapore are having trouble connecting with their prospects and existing customers.

Post-purchase journey

Most of the reviews also stem from the customer’s post-purchase journey and it comes down to the delivery portion, which is what brands struggle with.

“It’s something that is not 100% being able to be controlled on your end because it boils down to the logistics partner that they work with, and also the people who are doing the last mile delivery,” said Yi Hui.

One example of seamless delivery, according to GlobalData, is using drone delivery, which is getting more popular among Southeast Asian retailers.

This allows retailers to overcome barriers such as a lack of employees and inaccessible deliveries to rural areas.
It highlighted that some non-food companies are also tapping drones such as Malaysian-based Flower Chimp, a gift and flower delivery service, which uses drones to deliver fresh flowers.

A recent GlobalData study showed that less than half of Southeast Asian consumers want food delivered to them in less than an hour.

In Singapore, consumers want to have very fast delivery or under-an-hour delivery for their food orders.

Future of omnichannel

As Singaporean consumers’ demand keeps evolving, Singapore’s omnichannel technique is seen to grow 61.7% by 2026, said Saunders. Omnichannel means using online and offline strategies to interact with consumers.

“Singapore’s excellent online penetration and its well-developed physical retail sector mean that consumers are shopping across channels in a very seamless way,” said Saunders.

KPMG’s Sachet said businesses should start being future-ready by investing in data use or meaningful customer experience.

AnyMind’s Yi Hui said he also sees growth in Singapore’s omnichannel by learning from other markets.

“For example, live selling is popular in China, but it has an increasing amount of adoption in the Southeast Asian markets. Even for a market like Singapore, we are also getting more people going into this kind of different ways of selling products and services,” said Yi Hui.

“There’s something that we can learn from each of the different markets because something that is practical in China might not be practical in Singapore. But we can look at how other markets do it and then pick it to fit the consumer behaviours in Singapore,” he added.

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