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A flexible ERP approach is key for success in Southeast Asia’s ecommerce market

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With Southeast Asia poised to become one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for ecommerce – online retail revenues are expected to exceed US$25 billion by 2020 - it’s no surprise that global retailers are looking to expand operations in the region. Amazon’s impending expansion in Southeast Asia via Singapore could just be the tip of the iceberg. Boasting 250 million smartphone users, 100 million consumers who have already made a digital purchase, and a booming population of young technologically enabled online shoppers, the growth potential for online retailers is enormous.

However, while Southeast Asia promises endless possibilities, international businesses – whether traditional or online - need to be familiar with the local challenges they may face– in particular the vast diversity across the region. Languages, currencies, payment systems, customer preferences, taxes, regulations, and levels of economic development are just some of the elements which vary significantly across Southeast Asia. Unless these local nuances are negotiated carefully, businesses run the risk of operations, user experience, and ultimately the success of the expansion being impacted.

When one-size-fits-all doesn’t fit

To deliver business expansion with the flexibility required for success in Southeast Asia, IT has a crucial role to play. However, one key issue is that there is often an expectation that local subsidiaries can be run efficiently and productively with the existing global processes in place.

In particular, a common mistake is to assume that the business’ centralised ERP system that has been so important in supporting growth will continue to do so in new subsidiaries in Southeast Asia. Deploying a one-size-fits-all ERP strategy often means IT will be at odds with the speed and agility that is needed in each local market. The end result is an inflexible IT experience, with cumbersome desktop applications, and reports which are packed with outdated statistics.

This slow pace only gets worse when it comes to reconciling financials, especially if financial staff need to manually convert multiple currencies in Excel. Employees also lose 20% of their productivity each month – the equivalent of over two working months in a year – due to document related challenges.

Building a more flexible approach to ERP

These issues can be overcome through a functional two-tier ERP system, where on-premise systems at headquarters are supported by deploying more agile cloud ERP at new subsidiaries or remote offices, connected to headquarters through pre-built integrations.

Functional two-tier ERP natively integrates ecommerce with core operational systems (back-end ERP) to meet rising customer expectations for a consistent experience across all touch points in each different market. From smartphones to call centres and from tablets to point of sale consoles, subsidiaries in Southeast Asia will be equipped with a more agile and flexible cloud-based financial system. This provides real-time visibility, eliminating outdated processes and ensuring that information is shared at a fraction of the time.

To get this right, businesses need to thoroughly identify their priorities – whether it is financial consolidation across various markets, juggling multiple currencies and languages, or visibility on stock - in order to implement a system that best fits their needs. With a robust functional two-tier ERP system, organisations can gain a real-time 360-degree view of key data such as user experience, lead and opportunity management, and product and service preference. It means that businesses can expand rapidly and affordably, at the same time as achieving the real-time global visibility and efficiency that is required.

With a willingness to accept change – and with the right tools in place - online retailers will be in a fantastic position for success, even in a market as complex and diverse as Southeast Asia.

However, while Southeast Asia promises endless possibilities, international businesses – whether traditional or online – need to be familiar with the local challenges they may face– in particular the vast diversity across the region. Languages, currencies, payment systems, customer preferences, taxes, regulations, and levels of economic development are just some of the elements which vary significantly across Southeast Asia. Unless these local nuances are negotiated carefully, businesses run the risk of operations, user experience, and ultimately the success of the expansion being impacted.

When one-size-fits-all doesn’t fit

To deliver business expansion with the flexibility required for success in Southeast Asia, IT has a crucial role to play.  However, one key issue is that there is often an expectation that local subsidiaries can be run efficiently and productively with the existing global processes in place.

In particular, a common mistake is to assume that the business’ centralised ERP system that has been so important in supporting growth will continue to do so in new subsidiaries in Southeast Asia.  Deploying a one-size-fits-all ERP strategy often means IT will be at odds with the speed and agility that is needed in each local market. The end result is an inflexible IT experience, with cumbersome desktop applications, and reports which are packed with outdated statistics.

This slow pace only gets worse when it comes to reconciling financials, especially if financial staff need to manually convert multiple currencies in Excel. Employees also lose 20% of their productivity each month – the equivalent of over two working months in a year – due to document related challenges.

Building a more flexible approach to ERP

These issues can be overcome through a functional two-tier ERP system, where on-premise systems at headquarters are supported by deploying more agile cloud ERP at new subsidiaries or remote offices, connected to headquarters through pre-built integrations.

Functional two-tier ERP natively integrates ecommerce with core operational systems (back-end ERP) to meet rising customer expectations for a consistent experience across all touch points in each different market. From smartphones to call centres and from tablets to point of sale consoles, subsidiaries in Southeast Asia will be equipped with a more agile and flexible cloud-based financial system. This provides real-time visibility, eliminating outdated processes and ensuring that information is shared at a fraction of the time.

To get this right, businesses need to thoroughly identify their priorities – whether it is financial consolidation across various markets, juggling multiple currencies and languages, or visibility on stock – in order to implement a system that best fits their needs. With a robust functional two-tier ERP system, organisations can gain a real-time 360-degree view of key data such as user experience, lead and opportunity management, and product and service preference. It means that businesses can expand rapidly and affordably, at the same time as achieving the real-time global visibility and efficiency that is required.

With a willingness to accept change – and with the right tools in place – online retailers will be in a fantastic position for success, even in a market as complex and diverse as Southeast Asia.

 

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