Online Shopper

How S'pore Firm Shopee Turned 9.9 Into Southeast Asia's Biggest Shopping Holiday

One of Southeast Asia’s largest shopping holidays, 9.9 serves as the unofficial opening act for the region’s massive end-of-year sales. 

Every year, without fail, we see e-commerce sites hosting shopping festivals from August to December. 9.9, 10.10 and the hugely celebrated 11.11 are just some of the key dates on the online shopping calendar.

The 9.9 sale was first introduced to cater to the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. 

But did you know that Shopee was the company which pioneered the 9.9 shopping holiday?

Orders Increased Three-Fold Last Year

The 9.9 shopping festival was kickstarted by Shopee in 2016. Every year’s 9.9 festival outperforms the one in the previous year. 

In 2019, Shopee received thrice the number of orders it received in 2018. Over 113 million deals were offered and they were selling up to 187,606 items per minute. 

Brands and sellers saw outstanding performance, with top-performing brands seeing an average of 286 times increase in traffic and 339 times growth in sales compared to a usual day. 

shopee 9.9
Image Credit: Shopee

The festival is an extension of Shopee’s deep understanding of the region’s e-commerce landscape, as it continues to anticipate the needs of its users. 

Catering to Southeast Asia’s focus on shopping experiences that go beyond simple transactions, Shopee’s 9.9 campaign evolves yearly to address changing consumer needs across the region.

The success of 9.9 not only reflects our consumers’ strong appetites for deals and promotions, especially so in Singapore where users have displayed a proclivity for sales and deals.

It also fortifies our ongoing commitment to understand our various markets’ landscapes and cater to local needs well.

– Zhou Junjie, Shopee’s Chief Commercial Officer

Junjie shared that Shopee is always refining their recommendation engines to offer more customised and relevant shopping suggestions, promotions, and push notifications made to correspond with user needs.

“We dive deep into the data to discover what products and categories are popular across the day. This allows us to better plan our flash sales calendar and curate better shopping experiences for our users to enjoy every day,” he added. 

The cumulative success of 9.9 over four years in the region demonstrates Shopee’s ability to address the Southeast Asian consumer’s appetite for deals and promotions, through the use of widely popular tools such as Flash Deals. 

Hyper-Localised Consumer Experiences For Each Market

Shopee is present in seven markets but launched as a country-specific app, tailored specifically to cater to the needs of each of its markets. This allows Shopee to create “hyper-localised” consumer experiences for all its users.

“Our region needed an e-commerce platform that was built from the ground up to cater to local cultural nuances and behaviours,” explained Junjie. 

In 2015, Shopee saw a need for a localised approach to e-commerce in order to cater to the unique preferences of Southeast Asian markets.

Our data science team works closely with the local marketing teams to build shopper models based on various behavioural and demographic data that is available to us, resulting in nimble marketing campaigns that resonate well amongst all our users.

– Zhou Junjie, Shopee’s Chief Commercial Officer

For instance, in Indonesia, Shopee launched Islamic products and services to cater to the needs and demands of a majority Muslim audience. 

On the other hand, celebrity endorsements are used in countries like Thailand and Vietnam, where they have a greater effect on purchasing habits. 

Shopee indonesia
Image Credit: Warnaplus

Shopee bypassed the desktop experience and built for mobile since day one in order to cater to Southeast Asian users — the most engaged mobile internet users in the world. 

90 per cent of the region’s 360 million internet users connect to the web through mobile and over 95 per cent of Shopee’s orders are placed on phones, according to a report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company

Focusing On A Social Experience

But it’s not enough to just cater to local tastes, remarked Junjie.

“Today’s shoppers are looking for more than just a transactional shopping experience — they seek personalisation, engagement and social interaction.”

Shopee continues to anticipate these evolving consumer needs, creating experiences that address the need for an elevated shopping experience. 

In Singapore, 54 per cent of consumers discover new products via social media, according to a report by Facebook and Bain & Company. As a result, Shopee improved its social features — its in-app social feed and live chat — over time to meet this growing sentiment.

In creating experiences in-app to deliver what users want, a suite of entertainment features was launched to appeal to users. 

Social media elements like live feeds, stories, chats and video streaming were integrated to facilitate buyer-seller interaction. 

Shopee livestream
Image Credit: Hype And Stuff

For example, from your Shopee Feed, you can browse through the posts of your favourite sellers and community content in different product categories. The feed is immensely useful for staying up to date with deals launched by your favourite sellers.

It’s also easy to find out more about a product you’re interested in when the post is linked directly to its listing in the marketplace. 

Engaging Shoppers In-App

Shopee also launched engaging in-app games that offer rewards like vouchers and Shopee Coins that can be spent on in-app items. 

During 2020’s National Day Sale, localised twists on popular apps were launched, such as Shopee Flappy – Siam the ERP edition.

In Singapore, in-app games were played over 60 million times while Indonesia saw 1.6 billion plays in 2020 across two months. 

In Singapore and Malaysia, the number of hours streamed on Shopee Live increased by 200 per cent, and livestreaming hit a new record of 120 million views in Indonesia between February and April 2020.

The e-commerce platform also partners with major artists and stays attuned to the latest consumer trends. Riding the Hallyu wave, Shopee livestreamed a major K-pop festival, KCON:TACT, this July. 

Launched in collaboration with leading entertainment and lifestyle company CJ ENM, the festival meets the growing demand for online entertainment amidst social distancing measures in the region. 

Popular K-pop acts included Chung Ha, GFriend and Monsta X, who made special appearances on Shopee Live. Shopee users enjoyed daily K-pop themed streams and challenges.

For this year’s 9.9 festival, Phua Chu Kang, an iconic comedic figure in late 90’s sitcoms, will be fronting as Shopee Singapore’s brand ambassador. 

Despite Covid-19, Shopee users are spending 40 per cent more time in-app; speaking to the success of Shopee’s focus on delivering personalised, social, and engaging shopping experiences. 

In the months of February and April 2020 alone, Shopee recorded an astounding 60 million total plays of its in-app games. Shopee Live saw over 40 times increase in the number of livestreams with over 200,000 live chat messages being sent a day, across the same period. 

Users want more than just transactional experiences — and they’re getting it. 

To cater to the online grocery shopping trend, Shopee also increased its food product variety by eight times and brought fresh fruit and seafood sellers onboard Shopee Live. 

Subsequently, Shopee saw a 20 times increase in the number of users making multiple food product orders per month.

What To Expect For This Year’s 9.9 Sale

This year’s 9.9 runs from 20 August to 9 September, and will continue to shower deals and promotions upon shoppers for over three weeks.

As always, users can enjoy Million $ Discount deals, 50 per cent discount vouchers, and 18 per cent cashback with no minimum spend. You also stand to win prizes from the array of in-app games on Shopee.

In order to support local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, Shopee has committed to providing a super ecosystem and supercharging recovery for sellers and brands on its app.

Shopee has ramped up its offerings for ShopeePay and partnered with leading providers for smooth and secure transactions. To prepare for 9.9, logistics and warehouse operations have been tightened for peak efficiency.

Since the pandemic struck, Shopee has also offered a Seller Support Package to cushion the impact of the pandemic. On top of that, it has also upgraded its Seller Centre to help sellers in their e-commerce activities. 

Over 70 per cent more new brands have opened their Official Stores on Shopee Mall in 2020, diversifying the platform.

The cherry on top of 2020’s 9.9 will be Shopee’s brand ambassador for this year: homegrown cultural icon Phua Chu Kang. On 9.9 itself, Phua Chu Kang will be hosting an exclusive Shopee Live session from 9 to 10pm.

In A Pandemic, Community Comes First

The pandemic has only accelerated the growth and adoption of e-commerce and Shopee is no exception.

As consumers adhered to social distancing and stay-at-home measures during the circuit breaker, Shopee saw an uptick in demand on its e-commerce platform for health, personal hygiene and household items. 

By 2019, Shopee was already the fastest growing e-commerce player in Southeast Asia’s e-commerce mobile shopping industry. 

In the second quarter of 2020, Shopee continued to rank number one in the Shopping category by downloads in Southeast Asia and was among top three worldwide in the same category, according to App Annie. 

Currently, the e-commerce giant’s priority is supporting Southeast Asia communities through the crisis. This includes tightening payment systems and logistics, onboarding and supporting brands, and ramping up user engagement with more entertainment and deals. 

Initiatives like the $1 million Shopee Seller Support Package and ESG booster package — in partnership with Enterprise Singapore — were launched to support Shopee’s ecosystem of brands and sellers.

Despite the vagaries of Covid-19, it looks like we can expect this year’s 9.9 sales to continue delivering unique and memorable shopping experiences, just like it has every year.

Over the years, 9.9 has become an annual celebration that brings together millions of people all across the region.

“We’re confident that 9.9 this year will continue to do just that,” said Junjie.

Join Shopee’s 9.9 Super Shopping Day sales now! Click here to start browsing. For new users, enter SHOPEE99VP for S$7 off a minimum spend of S$15, valid till 31 January 2021, 23:59.

This article is written in collaboration with Shopee.

Featured Image Credit: Shopee

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