The E-commerce Engagement Shift: How Shopper Experience Changes Brand Narratives

The growing appetite for consumer experiences is riding the wave of offline to online brand narratives. With the pandemic accelerating online shopping, it has changed the context, environment, and motivations of consumers in the Asian region.

As an effect to brands, new shopping behaviour has expanded the ‘moments of truth’ from brand-centric content created as feeds of an e-commerce platform to a world of experiences-driven social media heuristics. Generating consumer pull via brand-generated content alone rarely guarantees a sale these days. A typical person is exposed to hundreds of marketing messages and makes thousands of decisions daily. The chances of one brand message being able to influence someone’s decision are vanishingly low.

Fortunately, our understanding of decision-making has expanded dramatically over the last few years, thanks to the two interlinked decision-making systems: System 1 and System 2. System 1 decisions are guided by a variety of things – past experiences, habits, or emotional associations. It’s also – and here is where shopper insights come in – strongly directed by the shopping environment. System 2’s role is simply to ratify and justify decisions.

Given the shifts, the future opportunities lie in our ability to understand and tap into how people make decisions in a specific shopping context.

Add-to-cart triggers

Most of the industry’s pre-pandemic baseline data on online shopping behaviour showed that it was mainly driven by special occasions and not as the usual, go-to channel when consumers are thinking of buying something. With staying home as the default situation during the pandemic, online shopping changed the brands’ environment, narratives, and sensory triggers which can all be summed up as ‘experiences.’

We see differences in online shopping uptake among markets in the region. In our study conducted in the first week of November 2021, among five markets – Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, Singaporeans tend to just browse for items online while consumers from other markets would mostly go online with a particular shopping mission, e.g. looking for a particular item to buy.

\"e-commerce\"As online shopping behaviour leapfrogs across Asian markets, understanding ‘stopping power’ initiatives to catch the consumers’ attention is not enough anymore. Both brands and e-tailers must develop ‘moving power’ mechanisms through memorable experiences to get the most of each online shopping mission.

Experience is everything

With brands putting together an always-on approach, customers are searching and discovering new experiences daily according to Shiseido’s APAC E-commerce Manager, Kriska Ramos. As one of the world’s largest health & beauty companies, Shiseido, ensures that the company covers the most relevant e-commerce touchpoints for targeting and retargeting customers. Key experience activities include livestreaming, key opinion leader reviews, influencer collaboration for unboxing, branded Instagram filters, virtual makeup try-on, virtual launch events, and gamification partnerships with key e-tailer partners.

So what online shopping experiences are working so far? Kriska Ramos affirms that livestream events bring conversion up to 20 times higher if a customer is directly driven to a product page during the broadcast. Aside from driving sales, livestream builds the brand’s credibility when a key opinion leader is paired with a product. Success stories are already being seen in China and South Korea while the rest of the Southeast Asian markets are catching up, opening a lot of room to play and innovate.

The big event: 11-11

This year’s 11-11 sales event saw a significant jump from last year’s consumer participation across the five markets that we have studied. Except for Singapore, 8 in every 10 consumers from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam have indicated that they will most likely participate this year.

From the same survey, we predict that Health & Beauty and Women’s Fashion product categories will get the most of the consumer’s shopping budget out of 11-11 online sales transactions.


With Singapore again differentiating itself from the pack with online shopping, the rest of the SEA markets are experiencing a shopping surge across product categories.

The double-day sales events

A major assumption of marketers about the effect of double-days on the 11-11 sales event is that it will tone down the impact of the annual singles’ day shopping spree. What we found out was the contrary: double-days have encouraged online shopping habits among the cross-section of the general population. In addition to the steady base of Southeast Asia online shoppers who are women, aged 18-44 years old, the online crowd has expanded this year to include more men and those who are from mid to low-income households.

What’s interesting to note is that as online shopping is embraced across demographics, the need to customize the shopping experience based on addressable consumer target markets is overwhelmingly relevant. Both brands and e-tailers must already know that there is no such thing as one size fits all for online shopping consumer targeting.

Speed to insights in writing the e-commerce playbook

Today’s online shoppers want information at the swipe of a mobile phone or a tap of a finger. Consumers should be able to easily navigate a brand’s website, so attention is held through the completion of a transaction. The platform navigation experience is such a big part of the customer journey, both brands and e-tailers should continuously invest in optimizing their key visuals and relevant creative assets.

When undertaking optimization research work, it has been said that testing often and testing early are key to having successful online shopping content and experiences. The understanding of the dynamics of the two interlinked decision-making systems: System 1 and System 2 should be part of the consideration in the research design. However, at PureSpectrum, we put an additional layer of speed and quality in perfecting the performance of our clients’ e-commerce investments. Our Insights Platform integrated with our quality-first Marketplace Platform provides unparalleled speed and data quality.


PureSpectrum interviewed a total of 1,500 general population respondents (males/ females, 18+ years olds, from all household income classes) from Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam from November 5-9, 2021.


By: Lester Sualog LinkedIn, Senior Client Development Director Asia, PureSpectrum and Kriska Ramos LinkedIn, APAC Regional E-commerce Manager, Shiseido