It’s a challenging and transformative time for the retail industry. Challenging as it’s had to grapple with lockdowns in various countries, reduced footfall and stringent public health requirements; transformative as we’ve seen both consumers and retailers embrace and accelerate the move to e-commerce and accompanying digital marketing capabilities. In fact, the e-commerce industry in Southeast Asia’s six largest markets is set to continue growing, likely reaching US$172 billion in value in 2025.
As retailers in Southeast Asia continue to re-evaluate strategies, channels and technology stacks in order to stay resilient and innovative, partnerships are increasingly becoming an important part of customer acquisition strategies as a way to reach and connect with new audiences in an authentic way. With its roots in the affiliate world, the concept of performance-based partnerships has been around for decades (if not centuries). However, digital innovation over the last few years has seen it emerge as a reinvented and stand-alone channel, which is creating exceptional results for innovative brands in Asia and across the world. No longer confined to big brand tie-ups or traditional affiliate marketing, partnerships have exploded to include social influencers, KOLs, brand-to-brand, mobile apps, premium publishers, charitable collaborations, ambassadors and more.
Today, many retailers in Southeast Asia still rely heavily on paid search, paid social and display to drive sales and new customers. However, cost per acquisition via those channels continues to rise, the death of the third-party cookie is upon us and more importantly, consumers have gained more power and control in what they see and how they make buying decisions. Instead of relying on advertising and marketing messages alone, consumers are looking to trusted third parties like influencers, podcasters, and publishers for information and reviews. This is why partnerships are becoming an increasingly attractive (and lucrative) customer acquisition channel for retailers. Whether you’re partnering with another brand, a content creator, key influencer, publisher, charity or mobile app, performance-based partnerships offer a way to tap into existing consumer relationships and sentiments to drive reach, revenue, brand awareness and value.
How partnerships drive exponential growth for retailers
In Asia, there are many forward-thinking brands such as Sephora, Zalora, Razer, Charles & Keith and Lenovo who are already seeing incredible growth through the partnerships channel. And they all have one thing in common – they’re using Impact’s partnership management platform to recruit, manage, optimise and pay partners at scale. In fact, Impact recently secured $150 million in new venture capital funding, valuing the company at $1.5 billion and solidifying its position as the world’s leading partnership automation software company.
To bring the partnership channel to life, let’s look at some recent success stories. For example, popular female fashion brand, Love, Bonito launched its partnership program last year and is already seeing the channel drive 20 per cent of total new orders and quarter-on-quarter revenue growth is 253 per cent! The company is working with various different partners from content creators and influencers to partnerships with other brands to help with its international expansion. Another great example is Decathlon Singapore, the world’s largest sports retailer, whose partnership program drove 50 per cent of new customers in eight months and a quarter-on-quarter revenue growth rate of 156 per cent. The company’s partners range from business institutions and sports clubs to influencers and content creators.
Ultimately, partnerships deliver what traditional ads alone no longer do – trust, endorsement and authenticity – key elements for retailers to sustain business growth even through a pandemic. More importantly, because these partnerships are performance-based, ROI is always positive as you’re only paying for an agreed outcome.
There’s no denying the fact that it looks as though 2021 will continue to offer some retailers a bumpy ride, but this is the beginning of a new wave of growth. Partnerships offer the opportunity to build on one another’s strengths, bolster weaknesses, share audiences, and break out of traditional moulds to create completely new and authentic shopping experiences. Find out how you can get started here.