The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated Vietnamese businesses to digitally transform faster and stronger. A recent survey by Nielsen showed that the number of Vietnamese consumers shopping online increased by 25%. This trend will continue in the future and can be a "guideline" for retailers' restructuring strategies. However, not many of them are “brave” enough and have sufficient resources to invest more on online sales channels and conversational commerce, which is booming across the region, especially for retailers who are running businesses of “less essential” products.
Go online to buy… gold?
Le Thi Hong Anh, 35, an employee of an auditing company, has a special love for gold. “Sometimes it took a few days to go from store to store to choose my favorite one,” she said. 4 years ago, when online shopping had not yet become a norm, jewelers were only familiar with brick-and-mortar stores and dealing with customers right on the spot.
Since the pandemic caused limited contact and travel restrictions last year, Hong Anh has changed her shopping habits. “Now I shop almost everything online. But I never thought of buying gold earrings online,” said Anh. The pandemic made many non-essential industries fall into a stressful situation, including the jewelry industry as many stores shut down. The market is no longer in its heyday, and many businesses face the challenge of how to survive.
These unusual and uncertain times affect everyone, every business, and every country in different ways. Many consumers and businesses have quickly adapted to the digital world. This is evident in the shopping habits and transaction patterns among global consumers, including Vietnamese.
Le Minh Trang, Senior Manager Retail Intelligence of Nielsen Vietnam, said the online shopping trend during the COVID-19 epidemic opens up more online business opportunities when people choose to shop at home. Online shopping has a double-digit annual growth rate and this number has a lot of room to grow in Vietnam.
Step out to be at the frontline of technology
Applying new technology into business helps some retailers maintain an optimistic growth rate. PNJ is the first jewelry retailer in Vietnam to explore conversational commerce with a global big name — Facebook Messenger. Over the past 2-3 years, PNJ has focused on introducing your items on Facebook and connecting with customers online.
The jewelry company knew people had lots of questions when they visited a store and before they made a purchase. The retailer wanted to find a way to educate customers about products online, especially in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, the fine jewelry retailer started to run a campaign of ads-that-click-to-Messenger.
Hong Anh is also a fan of PNJ. “Since I noticed my favorite jewelry brand went online, all I do is just surf their Facebook page to see samples, then chat with the staff on Messenger for more information. Everything happens quickly and saves a lot of time,” she shared.
The “staff” that Anh mentioned is Charmy, the automated experience PNJ built on Messenger. Charmy can participate in personalized conversations with people, answer their questions about products and seamlessly transfer them to a live customer agent if needed.
To boost awareness of the communications channel, PNJ ran a campaign of ads that click to Messenger. The campaign used video ads, photo ads in carousel format and dynamic ads showcasing the premium line of wuxing products. To understand the impact the Messenger conversations had on sales, the jewelry brand used the Facebook pixel to measure online sales, and the Offline Conversions API to measure in-store purchases.
Start growing and thriving
By launching Charmy, PNJ was able to answer customer questions about products quickly and efficiently. The brand found that incorporating conversational commerce helped increase both online and offline sales between September–October 2020, earning a 138X return on ad spend (combined online and offline sales), 10% conversion rate from Messenger to successful transaction, and 17,000 conversations generated during the campaign.
Phan Quốc Kiệt, Head of OmniChannel, PNJ: “The Messenger-powered digital assistant has been a great success and has proved that it is possible to sell high-end products via conversational commerce.”
Flexible tactics, approaching the unique needs of each customer segment have brought PNJ retail revenue up 10.2% over the same period in 2019, reversing the sharp decline of the domestic jewelry market in 2020.
PNJ revealed in the first quarter of 2021 alone, the company's online number grew by more than 400% over the same period. Accordingly, the online channel is effectively supporting the growth of PNJ besides the store channel.
Tran Le Minh Bao, Client Solutions Manager of Facebook, said: “We were excited to work with PNJ on this campaign. PNJ not only launched a successful digital communications channel, but they have also seen impressive results for both online and offline sales.”
PNJ also shared that the company’s next five-year strategy is to accelerate long-term goals including retail chain expansion, production investment, and digital transformation.