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Personalized Yet Sustainable Experiences Will Redefine the New Retail Playbook in Southeast Asia

  • Southeast Asia’s shoppers are taking the digital leap with 41% of respondents to a survey indicating that they are not missing regular shopping in-store as much
  • Southeast Asian consumers increasingly prefer shopping with retailers that already know their personal preferences (54%), embrace virtual technology (63%) and artificial intelligence (70%)
  • Sustainability has also become a key differentiator as 43% would be happy to pay a premium on goods and services that demonstrate commitment to being carbon neutral

SINGAPORE, September 8, 2021 – Immersive, sustainable digital retail services and offerings could present a silver lining for Southeast Asia’s retail industry, but a robust digital foundation will be key in enabling the next wave of retail  innovations, according to VMware, Inc. (NYSE: VMW). Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the VMware Digital Frontiers 3.0 Study revealed that 41% of Southeast Asian respondents are not missing regular shopping in-store as much as they  thought they would. With more consumers increasingly entrusting their personal data with retailers to create a hyper-personalized shopping experience, privacy-focused and retail innovations such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality will be pivotal in shaping the future of retail in Southeast Asia. 

  • More than half (54%) would prefer shopping with a fashion retailer that already knows their personal preferences for items that they are likely to buy – for instance clothes size, color preferences and likely budget.
  • 63% welcome the use of virtual technology in a consumer experience – for example, to simulate what an item looks like on them, or how an item will fit in the desired space.
  • More than two-thirds (70%) trust that artificial intelligence would be used to benefit society in the next five years. 
  • 64% of respondents have stated that they would leave a website or application if they could not get their issues resolved there and then (e.g., chatbot, live chat, telephone).
  • 41% would leave a retailer and visit a rival brand’s site or app if it cannot offer at a minimum next-day delivery.

Many brick-and-mortar stores in Southeast Asia are bearing the brunt of the pandemic as lockdown restrictions have pushed more shoppers online. While 61% of respondents in Southeast Asia are happy to engage with retail organizations digitally, 60% of them are prepared to switch to a competitor if a digital experience is not up to par – higher than other surveyed counterparts: US (50%), Germany (40%), France (36%) and UK (51%). With more than half of  respondents (57%) expressing their excitement for digital services, harnessing next-generation technologies including Cloud, artificial intelligence and modern applications will be key in enabling the retail industry to accelerate innovations and deliver a more holistic and secure retail experience to shoppers in Southeast Asia.

“The pandemic has led to a digital sprint for the retail sector as it has permanently changed the way consumers shop. In Southeast Asia, businesses are now facing their ‘sink or swim’ moment of leveraging cutting-edge innovations such as cloud and modern apps to redefine how they connect with customers digitally or risk losing them to a competitor,” said Sanjay K. Deshmukh, Vice President and Managing Director, Southeast Asia and Korea, VMware. “Apart from making sure that  they are delivering hyper-personalized, seamless digital services, retail organizations now also have to focus on bridging the gaps in their offline and online operations and delivering a superior omnichannel experience to stay competitive in the digital economy ahead. At VMware, we are committed to helping retail organizations modernize and strengthen their digital infrastructure so they can unlock new, revolutionary shopping experiences for consumers.”

Southeast Asia is also pivoting towards sustainable development, as consumers become increasingly eco-conscious and are making efforts to tap on digital technologies to become carbon-neutral: 

  • 43% of Southeast Asian respondents are happy to pay a premium on goods and services that demonstrate commitment to being carbon neutral.
  • More than half (55%) will stop engaging with companies or buying from brands if they do not publicly share their ethical policies.
  • 63% want to use more digital services to reduce their carbon footprint – for instance, by driving less to shops. 

Gain consumer trust first, before securing consumer loyalty 

As Southeast Asia’s retail battleground goes virtual, consumers are placing higher trust in retail organizations and the digital offerings they are providing to tailor their shopping experiences:  

  • At least one in two respondents (53%) are comfortable and excited to provide retailers access to completely accurate data about their daily lives for an improved experience and more relevant offers. This is significantly higher than respondents in other surveyed countries: US (24%), Germany (34%), France (20%), UK (18%).
  • More than two-thirds (68%) are comfortable and excited of the indefinite use of remote, virtual interactions with retailers, rather than in-store experiences.

That said, only 36% of Southeast Asian respondents believe that retail organizations have given them assurance that their data and information is secure. This highlights an urgent need for retail organizations in the region to build greater consumer trust by establishing transparency with consumers and building up a zero-trust approach to security to better safeguard end-users’ data from bad actors.

A Trusted Digital Foundation will be key to uncover the next wave of growth for retail

As we move full steam ahead towards the digital future, VMware outlines key priorities that will further strengthen the transformation of Southeast Asia’s retail ecosystem:

  • Empowering retail organizations to build a multi-cloud and app future: Unlocking a multi-cloud future with app-driven innovations in a consistent and more secure environment that enables continuous innovation
  • Enabling innovation and productivity for the region’s anywhere workforces: Future ready workforce solutions will enable a seamless and more secure digital employee experience, driving greater outcomes in the new world of work 
  • Intrinsic security for uninterrupted innovation: An intrinsic approach to enterprise security will provide an additional layer of robust protection for retail operations and shoppers’ personal data to fast-track business innovation and resilience

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About VMware

VMware software powers the world’s complex digital infrastructure. The company’s cloud, app modernization, networking, security, and digital workspace offerings help customers deliver any application on any cloud across any device. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to being a force for good, from its breakthrough technology innovations to its global impact. For more information, please  visit

About the VMware Digital Frontiers 3.0 Study

VMware Digital Frontiers 3.0 Study is a global multi-country study conducted from November – December 2020, surveying the behaviors, preferences and attitudes towards digital services and experiences in 2020 of 1,000 consumers per market from Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines), the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Findings from Southeast Asia represents an aggregated average from the five markets included in the study. 

VMware is a registered trademark in the United States and other jurisdictions.

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