Digital start-ups driven by success to do even better

Digital start-ups driven by success to do even better

While some local digital start-ups have delivered spectacular growth and captured the attention of regional consumers, there are still parts of their operations that they are looking to fine-tune.

Top executives at two of Singapore's hottest start-ups - ride-hailing firm Grab and e-commerce site Lazada - said they are still tinkering with the business models to improve customer loyalty.

Mr Alexis Lanternier, chief executive of Lazada Singapore, said price was a strong factor in Singaporean shoppers' purchasing decisions. His solution for growth was to enhance reliability, credibility and the overall customer experience.

"We need to create trust around buying online. We are constantly working to ensure we give customers an effortless shopping experience. This month, we introduced free delivery storewide as a step towards this," he said.

Mr Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, said that customers value the certainty of being able to get a ride and are sensitive to price.

"At Grab, we are exploring different ways of driving down cost," he said in response to a question from a participant at the CEO Exchange, an event organised by marketing think-tank Influential Brands and held at the NTUC Centre auditorium yesterday.

The Straits Times is a media partner of the event.

The seminar brought together bosses from digital start-ups such as Foodpanda and Carousell as well as executives from established companies such as Unilever and Canon to discuss topics like capitalising on digitisation, social marketing and e-commerce.

Mr Aseem Puri, chief marketing officer at Unilever, warned that with the proliferation of customer reviews, marketers now face the challenge of people trusting perfect strangers over global brands.

He urged firms to take the leap to create a brand purpose that taps into what consumers care about - their lives and societal issues.

In a separate presentation, Mr Lim said Grab is turning its eye on corporates, which he said is a "sector ripe for disruption". The firm recently launched Grab for Work, a transport management platform for corporates.

Grab is looking into developing more predictive capabilities.

"We try to predict where demand is going to come from and we position drivers there before the spike of demand happens," said Mr Lim.

Mr Jorge Rodriguez, director of Influential Brands, said the think- tank was formed to identify key factors behind the success of firms that deploy strong branding efforts.

He noted that the think-tank has been engaging with multinationals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to understand their challenges, but noticed that SMEs require a change of mindset to fully embrace technology and incorporate innovation within the organisation.

"By sharing knowledge with SMEs, we hope to contribute by creating awareness among business leaders and share some digital tips on our quest to become a smart nation," he said.

This article was first published on September 23, 2016.
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