my digital nationalism

looking for Indonesia's significance on the web

The online retail experience: US vs. Indonesia

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In this post I want to compare the different online retail experiences in US and in Indonesia.

What I want to do in this experiment is to walkthrough the experience of looking for a specific item on google and in how many clicks can I find the item I am looking for up to checking out and actually purchasing it.

The objective of this post is by comparing the different experiences, maybe we can identify what are the key differences and what can be improved.

What we need is a scenario to start with. Please note that I am not comparing specific online retail sites, I am comparing whole experience starting from the search engine to the retail site.

The scenario here is that I am a guy looking for an 8 GB memory upgrade for my macbook pro.

The US experience

I could simply google “Macbook pro 8 GB memory upgrade”

The search results bring me to several online retail sites linking directly to the item I am looking for, there is also a link to a youtube video showing me how to do the upgrade. After that buying the item is as simply as clicking on the amazon link and checking out.

Of course in real life in the US it would be much easier to just go to Newegg.com for the best price on the internet and free shipping.

The Indonesian experience

What about the Indonesian experience? How would I google it?

Let’s try “beli memory 8 gb macbook pro”

What are the results?

The top link brings me to various postings in kaskus.com of people selling 8 GB macbook pro memory.  The second link under that brings me to the local mac forum, the third, fourth, and fifth link also brings me to forums.

Where are the Indonesian online retail sites? Apparently, I don’t know of any, or google can’t help me find local retail sites that have what I am looking for.

What have we learned from this simple demonstration?

Let’s count the steps it took to get to what we were looking for:

In the US –> 1)search engine, 2)click link to retail site, 3)login/register, 4)checkout, 5) purchase item

In as few as 5 steps I got from search engine to purchasing what I was looking for. It was easy and simple.

The search engine helped me find what I was looking for, I was linked to profesional retail sites that could tell me how much the item would cost and how soon I could have it shipped for how much.

In Indonesia –> 1) search engine, 2)forum post, item is sold out, 3)forum post again, item is still available, 4)contacting person who sells item, 5)haggle for price, 6)price not good, browse through google search results again or maybe try different search terms, 7)and on and on and on.

The search engine linked me to the most popular posts containing the terms I was looking for which are forum posts. Apparently forums have way more traffic than local retail sites explaining why the results are as such. The forum posts were from individual sellers rather than professionally run websites, so I had to go the traditional way of contacting the sellers and haggling for the price, and then we would have to work out how I would pay the seller and how the seller would send me the item, all done the old fashion way.

Conclusion

It is clear that in terms of the online retail experience, the Indonesian experience is still light years away from the US experience. However this is an opportunity . What I think we need to make online retail work in Indonesia are:

1. Have an encyclopedic inventory –> we wouldn’t even need to carry the inventory for real life, we could just link to other international retail sites and convert the item price and shipping price to local currency. What matters is that the information is there and we dont leave users up to dry with no matching search results.

2. Be up there in search engine results. Retail sites have to be able to generate traffic. If search engines can’t help then we have to generate te traffic ourselves by utilizing whatever means are out there, SEO, social media, or even buying keywords. This may be costly

3. Provide great service, have people ready to answer customers questions be it by phone, email, chat. Help people find what they are looking for.

4. Provide an easy alternative for payment. If Indonesians dont use credit cards, give them the alternative to pay by bank transfers. I think bank transfers is still the most popular payment method in online transactions in Indonesia. There is an opportunity here to streamline the bank transfer process.

So there is my take on the online retail experience in Indonesia. A lot of opportunity here and the marketplace is stil wide open.

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Written by randomwalls

March 26, 2012 at 8:53 am

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