Digitization and the challenges of channel complexity

As Asia’s economic, infrastructural and demographic structures shift and realign, companies are seeking to optimize their routes of access to customers in a very focused way. Utilizing digital channels in addition to modern and traditional trade channels as part of a balanced omni-channel strategy requires a new level of flexibility across the entire value chain – particularly as trading conditions in Asian markets are fluid and fast-moving.

Digitization forms a new business frontier, with geographical barriers to trade in Asia being leapfrogged by technology. The rapid growth of both domestic and cross-border e-commerce, and particularly smartphone-focused mobile commerce (m-commerce) has created real-time access to previously inaccessible markets across Asia. It has also catalyzed entire new business models and value chains, and added speed and dynamism to both B2B and B2C procurement processes. As a result, individual entrepreneurs and tech start-ups as well as regional and multinational firms can utilize a multiplicity of channels to interact with existing, newly acquired and prospective customers and clients at any time of the day or night.

But the catalytic impact of digitization also brings unique challenges. Cutting through the cluttered desert of data engages the region’s brightest analytical and marketing minds, while cross-border trading and trading in untapped areas within the same country can create unexpected logistical, distribution and after-sales service challenges. 

As a result, the quest to seamlessly manage digital and traditional channels is becoming more complex and more resource-intensive, and choosing a specialist Market Expansion Services partner to help deliver real competitive advantage is a critical business decision.

Digitization depends on implementing systems that capture, transmit, and process information […] Almost every kind of service-related information can be digitized, which means that existing services can be transformed and new services and new business models can be created.

Changing the Game in Industrial Goods through Digital Services, The Boston Consulting Group (2016)

Which is the best digital route to your customer?

As traditional and modern trade channels converge, digitization is sometimes regarded as a solution to almost every business issue. If only it were that simple. The digital sphere is hallmarked by fragmentation. Even within online commerce, several contiguous elements exist that companies must consider as part of their omni-channel strategy (click on icons):

  • M-commerce: interface, product listings, check-out card, and payment processing, incorporating global credit card systems, Paypal and Asian cashless payments, such as AliPay, Samsungpay and ChinaUnionPay



Social media
  • Social media: competitive brands utilize a mix of channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ Facebook, Line, WeChat and Weibo



Company website
  • Company website: plus unique URLs for key brands in a portfolio



Marketplace channels
  • Marketplace channels: many brands and retailers use aggregated online platforms for selling and distributing their products



  • Email: despite a growing preference for instant messaging, email remains a reliable channel of communication and information sharing



Price comparison
  • Price comparison/product rating websites: these are widely used for research purposes by B2B, B2C and C2C customers



Video marketing channels
  • Video marketing channels: such as YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, Meerkat, Bigo and WeChat



SEO optimization
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): a crucial process for creating collective online visibility and searchability for all a company’s digital assets



Digitization is restructuring the relationship between companies and their customers – with enhanced data capture and management capabilities providing new insights into fluctuating market trends: 

  • Channel fragmentation has shifted the balance of power away from producers towards customers, who leverage the power of digital to demand enhanced service provisions from companies and brands. This dynamic complexity offers unique opportunities for intermediators, such as Market Expansion Services providers, to provide expert management across both the overlapping and distinctive market channels
  • Understanding what motivates customers – and, equally, what turns them off – is central to an omni-channel strategy 
  • Digital innovation may be driving route-to-market change, but at the heart to the matter is human decision-making. Capturing and optimizing customer data to frame business decisions adds value because delivering outstanding experiences is founded on behavioral insight