Two young women, walking along a Tokyo street, retail district, smiling and looking at shop window displays. Outdoors, daylight, horizontal composition. Contributed photo.

Customers play a crucial role in determining businesses’ strategies and shaping their reputation. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Southeast Asia, specifically in the retail and hospitality sectors, focus on customer experience for their business to stand out amid the competitive market.

However, it’s not often linear and straightforward. ASEAN SMEs shared with Epson that managing customer experience remains one of the top five business challenges they face. They have to make smart investments in technologies to help them deliver proper customer experience.

The technologies contributing to better customer experiences

Common factors that influence customer spending and preferences in Asia today include personalization of services and experiential event-based shopping setups.

By that, online customers want a more luxurious interactive shopping experience, with broader channels, a range of products and services, and payment choices as they go through their purchasing journey.

For instance, SMEs use the latest printing and projector technologies to make stores, marketing displays, and product labels stand out. Intelligent point-of-sale (POS) printers with wireless connectivity enable staff to serve customers anywhere in the store and improve customer interactions, reinforcing the quality of the company’s brand.

Asian woman barista accepts a credit card from a customer in a coffee shop. Contributed photo.

Southeast Asian SMEs see positive results from focusing on customer experience

An Epson survey of 864 SMEs in the six largest ASEAN nations by GDP found that the retail and hospitality cluster leads in digital transformation. In this sector, 64% of respondents focus on their digital transformation efforts in the area of customer interaction.

Across Southeast Asia, SMEs realized the impact that positive customer experiences can have on revenues, which became evident for brands focused on customer experience. These SMEs enjoyed income growth by an average of 23 percent.

A male manager and a female chef using a digital tablet in a kitchen inside a hotel. Contributed photo.

The consequences of not prioritizing customer experience

Customers make purchase decisions based on their and others’ experiences. Studies showed that interactions with a company could make or break a purchase both in-store or online transactions. Companies that are slower to adopt technologies will have a harder time connecting with customers.

SMEs are significant to local economies, contributing to a large percentage of all ASEAN enterprises. That said, the retail and hospitality sectors contribute to each nation’s GDP.

As customer spending power continues to grow in the region, SMEs must be prepared to deliver new experiences to Southeast Asia’s younger generations, and only with the right technology investments, businesses can achieve this goal.

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