Sandeep Raj (Alibaba), Senior Vice President Affiliate Marketing, Lazada, answering Retail News questions

Sandeep Raj, Senior Vice President, Affiliate Marketing, Lazada (Alibaba) answering questions from Retail News

Lazada Southeast Asia’s Senior vice president, Affiliate Business oversees growth and revenue. Part of Amazon’s International Expansion team, I was fascinated by the potential of ecommerce here in Asia. Over the past 10 years, I have been involved with scaling up and early launches in the ecommerce industry.

What can product managers do to successfully market their products so that they remain in the forefront of mind with customers?

Product managers need to consider the whole customer journey. How can they wow customers at each point? This customer journey includes digital touchpoints. Product owners should assess each stage’s impact and determine their ROI.

Alibaba can use affiliate marketing for customers.

We work closely with partners, from programmatic and news networks to help foster and expand high-quality channels throughout Southeast Asia. To create a supportive environment for jobs in Southeast Asia, we want to grow the KOLs and micro-and nano influence.

Alibaba leverages affiliate marketing to drive customers to their website.

Our partners include advertising networks as well news sites and gaming websites. KOLs are also involved in expanding the ecosystem. We want to see Southeast Asia as a center for job creation.

What can retailers do to grow their affiliate programs?

Our affiliate program helps retailers become partners. Both the seller and brand benefit from this partnership. The sellers are able to tap loyal customers and stand out in their market. They also have the tools and platforms they need for quick and easy transitions from one location to another.

How do you measure the success of Lazada’s affiliate marketing program?

Lazada believes affiliate marketing is an important channel for overall growth. And I would say the number one reason or number one method in which you would measure the success is if you’re able to create a win model between sellers, retailers and brands as one entity and the affiliate partners as the second entity and then the customers as the third entity. Right. It’s exactly what I meant. First, ensure that retailers meet your standards. Partnering with affiliates can help you increase sales and get more traffic. The second is the affiliate partners are getting the best return on investment, on diverting or sending the traffic and their customers to Lazada’s portal. Our customers should find the greatest value through working with us via our partners, or our platform. Customers must be able to find the most attractive deals. They should be able find the best products. They should be able to find the most relevant products and have them delivered on-time. So I think that’s one way in which we measure that our affiliate marketing program is successful.

Please share three ways to increase your Affiliate Program.

Affiliate marketing is still in the early stages in Southeast Asia compared to other markets. So in a systematic way, what we’re doing is, number one, we want to grow the content creators segment in Southeast Asia. So that would be, number one, making sure that we’re able to tap into the best and the high-quality content creators and making sure that they work with us.

Lazada offers them encouragement and support that will enable them to work for Lazada. We also tap into Southeast Asian communities searching for income streams or passive income options.  Our clients include young students who are just graduating from college. Diverse communities in different parts of Southeast Asia are where we work. This market will be expanded and the potential income for partners will increase. Fraudsters are appearing in the market calling themselves affiliate programs. Our competition is also being scammed. They then say “hey, that’s how you make money”, and so forth.

So we are also quite conscious of that and we want to spread the message that all the communities and all the all the communities of students and communities of women, we want them to directly come to the Zeta’s Portal and sign up through us. Our company does not permit third-party agents or individuals who promote SMS services. The second strategy we would use to grow our affiliate program is this. It’s also likely to be the third. We also work with.

First, the content creators. It also covers YouTubers. The Instagram influencers are also included. The second is, of course, the communities, the communities which I mentioned, and then probably the third would be we also work with some very good, high quality programmatic partners in the ecosystem that can get us really high quality customers to Lazada’s portal. These are our key strategies to grow the Southeast Asian affiliate network.

How has eCommerce Affiliate Marketing changed over the past and what’s new for 2022

The three points I have just briefly listed above show how things have changed in the past few years. So historically, what I’ve seen, because I have seen the affiliate marketing in advanced countries, especially markets like us, when I was working for excuse me, of course, it was like much more at once because those affiliate marketing programs have been there for a couple of decades. Whereas in Southeast Asia, it’s still very early stages, I feel. And that’s what in the past few years, a couple of changes took place. Top ecommerce companies created affiliate programs. This program was the catalyst for affiliate marketing. It was obvious that affiliate marketing wasn’t a novel concept. Many of them were blog posts, but there were a few companies who were using advertising technology. Affiliate marketing is a way to make money if you have a large business, or income if you are a solo entrepreneur. This ecosystem attracted many new partners. We are now in 2022. Yes, number one, we see that it’s going to be a rapid proliferation of the influencers and the key opinion leaders and content creators, which is in line with the creative economy boom that is happening across the world.

People now see themselves as content creators. This is very encouraging. American children were asked what profession they wanted when they grew older. Many people used to tell children that they wanted to become doctors. I would like to be a businessman. A lot of people are saying they would like to be a YouTube superstar. Right? This just shows how it affects all aspects of the ecosystem. We will continue to see these content creators, influencers, and KOLs expand rapidly in the future. Another factor, which I consider unique in Southeast Asian countries is the potential for additional income. And that’s something that we saw with COVID as well. Many people lost their jobs across Southeast Asia, and turned to COVID because they were able to do more with what they have. I’m capable of creating a blog. My trusted friends have taught me how to create blogs.

How can I make it more profitable and grow my audience? So in fact, they started working with us, some of them on a part time basis and some of them on a full time basis because they didn’t have any other main source of income. Many of the participants built their homes with the money they earned in just a few years. Right. This is very encouraging and welcome news. As affiliate marketing grows in popularity, more people turn to it to generate income for themselves and their families. Right. And of course, there are a lot of students who also were, of course, new to the market, and they couldn’t and they couldn’t kind of go and find a job themselves because the overall economy was slowing down. A few companies weren’t hiring. This is also because these students have a lot of social media activity. Reddit, Twitter and Instagram are the main social media sites they use. You can find them posting on Instagram nearly every day. Gen Z customers are also familiar with online shopping platforms and portals.

After signing up, they began to experience positive results. This follows on from what I mentioned earlier regarding the overall creator economy and content creator. This economy doesn’t just exist for famous people, but it is also available to you. Influenza can be called you, and anyone in that second group. This second group includes a lot of influencers, both micro and nano. They’re people like you. You are likely to be attracted by a product. It would be possible to give them the product. You could also encourage their friends and followers to share it. So I would say the second the second factor would definitely be that especially in in in Southeast Asia, where we see this, you know, the aspiring younger people, younger population who are quite aggressive and you’re not quite they are using these opportunities given by different platforms and they’re finding, making, becoming their own bosses and becoming an entrepreneur themselves instead of depending on someone else for a job. So yeah, I think those would be the key trends which I’m foreseeing.

How effective is affiliate marketing in attracting customers?

Affiliate marketing is a great channel for new customers of eCommerce or someone who’s not familiar with an eCommerce model to try online shopping for the first time. Right? Because it has strong relationships with trusted partners in the building industry, this is true. For instance, you can opt in to the program if desired. You can. Compare prices. I consider price competition my partner. I go to a price comparison site if I’m a new customer because I’m really conscious about how much I’m paying for my first choice. So that helps elevate this element of this element of inhibition that they might have that, hey, maybe I’m paying a higher price on an e-commerce site compared to an offline purchase. Right. This brings us to the topic of price. We have had the pleasure of working with many cashback websites in Southeast Asia. This eliminates the need to be cautious when making first purchases, and gives them cash back. We have many partnerships with payment and fintech companies. Our customers are eligible for numerous incentives and coupons.

Again, like this, this helps in in elevating the fear in the minds of consumers when especially when they’re making their first transaction. Right. The second the second part is that that’s where the content creators, as the segment comes here, especially the good influencers and the good bloggers who explain in detail about what each platform specializes in and what are some of the good products and good deals that they can get right. E-commerce is a complex market with many sellers and payment options. They help us to remove any information asymmetry. Let’s see, what are your thoughts? What method do you recommend to purchase the item? This is why many don’t complete their first purchase. So a segment like Content Creator, they can really go and give the right information to the consumers so that they can actually go and they actually can go and make sure that they’re very clear before they make the first transaction and they make an informed decision and an informed choice, which is what the key segments of affiliate marketing are helping do today to ensure that new customers are transacting on the platform.

Is it possible to motivate and support employees in an efficient and positive way? Are you a good leader who will make your team succeed? You have achieved this success.

I’ve had the honor of working with big tech companies like Amazon and starting my own company. The Alibaba Group is where I work now. I’ve seen how the employees or the employees of these companies or the current generation of the workforce that is coming into the into the companies are thinking about work and what work means to them. Right. They view leaders in a different way. Right. No. 1. They are looking for authenticity. One can go back several decades in time and find that my dad was an ATM operator in a bank. Right. He described his work as this. He explained that he believed it was crucial to lead people. Well, it’s so different from how the current generation looks at leaders and looks at bosses and subordinates and so on and so forth. Right. It should be authentic. They desire to be able to see the benefits of what they are learning. They’re the kind of that is a two-way connection. Right. They want to be. This added value should be evident in every aspect of their lives.

And at the same time, they’re able to give back to the company in a way. Right. So I feel it’s really getting to a point where it’s really a balanced approach these days. So previously it used to be that, hey, if you are working for a company, I mean, you’re just supposed to contribute and you just get a paycheck in return, right? So now it’s definitely not the case because there are a lot more opportunities for for people who want to work. Right. And especially I can say from my own experience of working in an affiliate marketing function, I mean, like this is if they don’t like their bosses or they don’t like their job, they can just switch to alternative sources of career, like becoming an content creator or becoming or even starting their own companies. The first thing is authenticity. Employees and their team must be able to see the added value on a daily basis. This is not just about a paycheck. Right. You should have the belief that they will learn something every day. They are. They’re building relationships. They’re building connections. And again, at the same time, they also want to see the impact of their work that they’re doing on a day to day basis and how and how it adds value to the company.

This would be my second observation. Third, I think the borders between leader and team member are getting more blurred. In most cases, leaders in markets are seen more as colleagues than they are bosses. So it’s quite important to be conscious of that, I feel, because at the end of the day. You know, it’s important to kind of build that trust among these among these people as well. It’s what I believe. These leaders are their staff and colleagues. They expect respect from their staff members. Leaders want to be able to communicate clearly and take responsibility for their actions. These are the three key points I would like to make, especially in view of the high resignation rate and global shortage of talent. These three things must be understood by leaders before they can recruit or build their teams.

How should digitalization affect your priorities?

Retailers and B2C companies need to digitally optimize their supply chains. So they need to be absolutely sure what products when they’re receiving the products, what is the price of the products and so on and so forth. So that’s one area of digitization. We see a lot of retailers kind of missing out, which of course can add a huge value because that’s the first part in the overall supply chain or overall chain of selling their products or goods. I would say the second area to digitize would be the customer acquisition or the marketing trend, making sure that they’re using the right tools, making sure that they’re tracking the customers, they’re tracking their buyers and tracking their behavior and ensuring that the buyers are getting the best value for the money that they are spending. There are many tools that can be used to digitize, including marketing technology, marketing automation and other marketing technologies. And I would say the third area where they can digitize is finding a scalable and sustainable way to work with many ecommerce, ecommerce marketplaces or retailers, because now it’s becoming a huge force. This has been the case in many other countries. Even the big brands can’t ignore ecommerce marketplaces as a as a significant channel for them to grow their businesses.

So it’s very important that even the small and medium retailers or mid-level retailers or even some of the high end brands, they really need to know how to scale their businesses on a marketplace platform. Right. It is exactly what I believe. Lazada offers education and training. What are the best practices? What are some of the different tools available on the Lazada marketplace that they can use and how to grow their revenues and what kind of dashboards they should use to ensure that and ensure that they are seeing how where their money is being spent and how they’re getting their sales and how they’re getting new customers and so on and so forth. Number three would be that. Last, but certainly not least is. Of course, it’s kind of related to the first three points. Retailers should be digitizing their data and improving them. And of course, it might sound like a cliché, but getting to know end to end what is happening to your products, what is happening to your buyers, what is happening to your customers? It is vital to track data so that it doesn’t become lost amid the explosion of digital information and all its implications. They could be working in these four areas.

What is your vision for the future Lazada Would you prefer to see the growth of particular verticals?

I think for Lazada, it’s still very early stage. It’s not just for Lazada. This is true for all e-commerce companies in Southeast Asia. It’s still very, very early stages for growth. However, e-commerce is still in its infancy, not like advanced economies where it makes up 25-30% in total retail sales. Right. That’s right. There will be more growth over the coming years. Google Temasek predicts that the ecommerce market will be worth $1,000,000,000,000. Right. This is a remarkable feat. According to the GDP, $1,000,000,000,000 is the most highly ranked economy of the top ten countries. Right. That means there is only one sector in Southeast Asia that can contribute $1,000,000,000,000 per year to its economy by 2030. Right. Lazada is doing the right things for brands and sellers. Lazada is able to take the appropriate actions for its partners. Customers should also be treated with respect so that they can reap the rewards of the online marketplace. So I think that’s our plan.





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