Week of 23 November 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has caused major shifts in our consumption patterns—from what we buy to how we buy it. The pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption of e-commerce worldwide, with the chance that many of us may not return to our pre-pandemic shopping habits. What will retail look like in the future? Let’s take a Deep Dive.

🤕 Even before the pandemic, many offline retailers were struggling due to a fall in foot traffic and more consumers switching to online shopping because of the convenience. Now retailers are faced with more pressure to rethink their retail strategy and find better reasons for us to visit their physical stores again.

🕸️ Retailers big and small are starting to launch omnichannel initiatives to provide a unified shopping experience across a variety of channels. Some are using augmented reality to bridge the online-offline gap, while others have employed motion design to illustrate the quality of their product. A few have also embraced livestreaming—and struck gold.   

🤯 As we become used to online shopping, retailers will have to evolve the role of their brick-and-mortar stores. No longer spaces that simply display and keep products, stores may need to offer shoppers unique experiences that e-commerce can’t provide, be it access to exclusive merchandise or delivering a sensorial product-discovery journey.  

🤖 The growing demand for contactless shopping will also influence how some stores operate. Supermarkets or convenience stores, for instance, may automate certain roles such as cashiers, or adopt a “buy online, pick up in store” model to free up their staff for higher-value work such as engaging with customers online.


“If you can’t serve your customers through every media touchpoint, you’re going to go out of business. And if you can’t effectively weave media and store together in a way that removes buying friction and adds radical experiential value for customers, you’re going to go out of business.”

— Doug Stephens, best-selling author and founder and president of Retail Prophet




100% On the first day of's 618 Grand Promotion, China’s largest mid-year shopping festival, the company’s online supermarket saw its sales increase by 100 percent compared to last year.

1.3 million In March, Canadian fashion brand Ports did a nine-hour livestream on JD Live that drew 1.3 million viewers and generated more than US$1.4 million in sales.

85% Market research company Forrester predicts that up to 85 percent of e-commerce in Asia-Pacific could be conducted by phone by 2023.

35,000 sq ft Amazon’s new 35,000 square feet grocery store is its first that lets shoppers skip the cashier, thanks to technology systems that can detect what is in their trolley and bill a credit card on file once they leave through a designated lane. 

US$550 million Alibaba has invested a total of US$550 million into online retail platform Farfetch, which will see the latter launching luxury shopping channels on Alibaba’s various platforms. 


During his Singles' Day live stream on Taobao in 2019, how much in sales did Chinese influencer and Gen.T honouree Austin Li generate for the e-commerce platform? 

A. US$55 million
B. US$105 million
C. US$145 million

Scroll to the bottom of the email for the answer.

DID YOU KNOW? will deploy 100 unmanned delivery vans in the city of Changshu in China by the end of the year, as part of its move towards automated solutions. Currently, around 70 percent of its deliveries are handled by these self-driving couriers.  


5 Stories To Get You Up To Speed
  1. What Will The Retail Experience of the Future Look Like?
    Harvard Business Review

  2. The Future Of Retail In Asia-Pacific: How To Thrive At High-Speed
    Bain & Company
  3. How To Survive The Future Of Retail
    Business of Fashion
  4. Retail's Future In Asia
  5. See The Future Of Online Shopping. It Looks Nothing Like Amazon
    Fast Company


Shopping Through A Robot

Japan could be looking at a future where people operate robots remotely to purchase items for them at stores


The pandemic’s impact on certain product segments and how consumers purchase them has been significant. Online supermarkets saw the biggest surge in traffic worldwide, with a nearly 140-percent increase reported. Retail technology, telecommunication and home furnishings also saw greater online demand, as consumers chose to spend on products and services that would bring comfort to their homes.



The Leader To Know

Zhenhui Wang
The chief executive of JD Logistics, Zhenhui Wang plays a key role in moving Chinese retail giant towards automation technologies as logistics solutions. Since 2016, the company has used unmanned drones and robots to deliver packages to its customers. Wang also helped launch JD’s fully-automated warehouse in Shanghai—a world first.


Two Honourees To Know

Daniel Huang
Daniel Huang is the founder of MegaRobo, which develops intelligent robots that are used in laboratory automation, intelligent retail and manufacturing. The Chinese company has more than 150 patents and in 2019, received funding from multinational German engineering firm Bosch.

Faith Teo
Faith Teo started 8XP to help international brands launch in the Chinese market. The smart retail company also helps retailers create brick-and-mortar stores that operate like an e-commerce platform and can be remotely controlled.



Did you miss our Deep Dive on The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism? Read it here


The World In 2805
As we continue to embrace e-commerce and automated retail experiences, could we be headed towards a future where we eventually won’t have to lift a finger to get what we want? If the creators of the 2008 Pixar film Wall-E are right, it could look very much like this


Is Sustainable Fashion Even A Thing?

That's it for this issue. Have a productive week!

The Deep Dive is a weekly close-up look at an idea, issue or trend that’s shaping Asia’s future. This issue was written by Chong Seow Wei, with editing and production by Samantha Topp and Lee Williamson.

We’d love to know what you think of this issue, and future topics you’d like us to cover. Please send your comments to And if you missed it, don’t forget to check out last week’s Deep Dive, on The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism.

The answer to the quiz is C (US$145 million).

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