Partner introduction: a Q&A with SmartOSC’s Thai Son

Could you please introduce yourself and the role you play at SmartOSC?

I’ve been luckily involved in ecommerce for the last 11 years, helping over 500 online retailers build and optimize their ecommerce websites through SmartOSC, the ecommerce agency I co-founded. We grew from a small team of four in 2006 into one of the largest ecommerce agencies in the region, with over 350 specialists. I am now responsible for overseeing the company’s growth and strategy across Asia Pacific, North America and the UK.Your mantra (per the website) is “Focus on the journey, not the destination”. Could you expand on that and how it fits into the work you do at SmartOSC?

Firstly, I always believe in the power of being focused, and then you have to enjoy the work. At SmartOSC, we challenge people to do better every day and focus on delivering; everything else is noise. We celebrate wins, recognize success, learn from failures, and have fun together. So when we look back after years, it’s amazing to realize not just what we have achieved, but also how we have done it. That is exactly what we want to create: a memorable experience.

Thai Son, co-founder of SmartOSC

Could you please give us some background on SmartOSC? Your vision and mission?

The idea started with me in my last year at university while doing some part-time freelance programming, based on an open-source solution called OSCommerce. As things became more serious and larger clients came on board, we realized the need to invest more in acquiring the right talent, getting processes in place and focusing on delivering high value to clients. Today, SmartOSC is driven by mission to provide growth, in every partnership that we are involved with.

We now offer a full range of commerce services from consulting, creative, platform build, to conversion optimization. Being commerce focused and deeply experienced in certain platforms like Magento, Sitecore, Adobe, combined with a track record of successful delivery to enterprise clients, is what makes us unique.

You work closely with Magento. Can you give us further details on your partnership with them?

We first worked with Magento since early days of the platform in 2008. A few years later, we became a Magento Silver partner. We were lucky enough to grow together with Magento’s strong momentum worldwide. Our strong commitment to the platform is also reflected in the community events we organized. Meet Magento Vietnam, held since 2015, has attracted more than 1,000 attendees and contributed to educating the market about the flexibility that Magento provides to merchants.

We currently have 198 Magento 2 trained specialists which rank amongst the top solution partners when it comes to providing Magento 2 expertise. In Feb 2017, we have been officially recognized by Magento as an Enterprise Solutions Partner, becoming the only agency headquartered in Southeast Asia achieving this partnership level.

Do you have a client success story you can take us through?

While we have many successful cases to share, I would like to pick the one we implemented for Asia’s leading  luxury retailer, Club21, which manages brands like Donna Karan, ck Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel and Paul Smith, to name a few.

As online shopping becomes more popular, the consumer shopping habit also changes. They walk into a designer boutique, browse available products, try out items, then they leave the store and sometimes go online to purchase at a better price. This trend forces luxury brick-and- mortar stores like Club 21 to expand their business to re-launch its online presence.

The brand engaged SmartOSC for its ecommerce project, and after 10 months of planning, scoping, and developing, Club 21’s global site was re-launched during November 2016. The new site included an enhanced customer experience such as membership login, find-a-store function, and improved customer service at all online touchpoints. The site also provides loyalty program which allows customers to earn reward points.

The global site is also designed to house Kids 21, the exclusive ecommerce site for children’s designer wear. For making shopping a truly seamless experience, the site lets shoppers check out with one shared single basket across Club 21 global and Kids 21.

The Club 21 ecommerce site, together with its multi-label fashion stores, have truly created a seamless and varied experience across online and physical stores for fashion shoppers anytime, anywhere. As of today, Club 21 features over 22,000 products from more than 200 fashion brands.

What do you think about the power of email marketing automation? Why do you think it’s an important tool for marketers within the ecommerce industry?

Email marketing remains one of the most effective communication channels the internet offers, as it reaches your customers in their own personal place and under your customer’s control. Using email marketing right can help businesses create more relevant messaging, increase customer engagement and reach them at the right time.

Today, consumers’ inspiration for making a purchase decision can come from anywhere, so marketers need to know these inspiration triggers to attract and retain them. These touchpoints vary from social media to print ads, mobile or the website. Then once they shop via these channels, brands start to upsell, cross-sell and try to retain them with membership programs or incentives. Marketing automation happens across this entire customer journey.

What do you think is the future of ecommerce? What is the road ahead for online and offline retail in APAC?

The retail industry is approaching the fourth evolution. After single channel, multichannel, and cross-channel, omnichannel is no doubt the next trend where consumers have an immersive shopping experience with whatever brand they buy from. The challenge for retailers, however, is to create a seamless and connected experience between offline and online, and for each of the channels to strengthen their individual brand strategies, making sure they don’t end up competing with each other’s.

One example of a company that has strived hard to achieve this is Kanmo Retail Group, which is operating 80 stores in Indonesia with a market leadership position in the kid’s and baby segment serving more than 50,000 customers monthly.

SmartOSC was engaged to help build their omnichannel presence. Our solution allows Kanmo to manage multiple warehouses in a single dashboard, by putting their customers at the center of the system with online appointment booking and purchasing, as well as click and collect in store. A mobile application is also developed to enhance the customer experience by letting customers scan barcodes to order in store and through implementing a beacon system to personalize in-store services.

This merging of the online and offline stores is an example of a traditional bricks-and- mortar stores like Club 21 to expand their business to re-launch its online presence.

Could you explain how you plan to work with dotmailer?

Our partnership with dotmailer aims to enable online retailers to build and optimize their online business, with a focus on Southeast Asia, where the level of maturity in omnichannel has yet to be fully unlocked. dotmailer’s top-notch expertise in marketing automation practices, combined with SmartOSC’s scalable and cost-effective solution, will bring great value to our joint clients. Both companies have also built a good reputation in the market for delivering high-quality services and our recent dotlive event in Singapore in February 2017, which attracted a high level of interest from the audience, is a testament of that.

You can find out more about SmartOSC’s business via its website or, alternatively, get in touch with our APAC team.

The post Partner introduction: a Q&A with SmartOSC’s Thai Son appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.


Holiday Email Marketing Q&A: Your Planning Questions Answered

Need help planning your holiday email campaign? You’re not alone. In our recent webinar, How to Get Holiday Ready: Your Festive Email Plan, Matthew Potter, Regional VP EMEA at Movable Ink and Skip Fidura, Client Service Director at dotmailer, talked about developing an email campaign that has the stamina to last the full holiday season.

We received lots of questions from attendees about how to plan their festive campaigns – everything from when to send to which type of email content works best. Skip and Matthew kindly compiled them all into this blog post. Here are your holiday questions, answered!

Q – How important is it to integrate a Christmas campaign with non-Christmas related content in the build up?

Matthew: As ‘Christmas’ comes further forward it is really important to add non-Christmas content into it. Your first campaign may be in September, personally I’m still only just getting over summer and I’m not ready for Christmas, so whilst you can seed it into my head, I really don’t want to only hear about Christmas for the next four months.

You should also consider the diversity of your client base, its is very difficult to discern religion, ethnicity, age, gender, marital status and more from an email address and people choose or choose not to celebrate a number of holidays. Most people like a discount or an offer, but not everyone responds to specific imagery and wording for a variety of holiday events.

Skip: Unlike Matt, I have started thinking about Christmas, not in any specific way, but in a, “I must be better organized this year” way. Now is the time to reinforce the breadth of your product line. If you typically segment on previous purchase, relax those rules a bit to give me new ideas rather than just focussing on what I have bought for myself in the past.

Q – What was your favorite festive campaign EVER? And why?

Matthew: Across Black Friday in 2014 and 2015 a US client of ours, ‘RadioShack’, did a truly innovative campaign. Their email detailed 24 deals in 24 hours. On opening the email the deal of the current hour was displayed. A timer showed how long this deal had to run and when the next one was due.

Finally, using a provided clue, recipients could tweet what they thought the next product on offer was going to be for the chance to win it. Recipients of the email re-opened it multiple times to see what the next reveal was and the people who only opened once saw the very latest content.

Skip: Call me sentimental but I always like the campaigns that remind me that the holidays are about spending time with friends and family and not all about “BUY THIS! BUY NOW!” More than any other time of year, campaigns that make my life easier through better customer service, reinforce that message AND get me to buy.

Q – When do you recommend sending the first holiday email?

Matthew: You haven’t sent it already? What are you waiting for? I think it is important to consider the content, why are you looking to send the email? What are you hoping the recipient will do with it? How long is your average purchase cycle? How considered a purchase is one of your products? What is the lead-time on delivery? What is your returns policy? If you are asking people to keep an eye out for specific dates, bookmark events, arrange delivery slots etc… you should send now as well.

If you are selling lower value impulse purchases, you can wait some time yet. The answer to this question unfortunately is ‘it depends’. However, as Skip and I both said during the webinar, do make sure you don’t leave it too late; evidence suggests the inbox will not be any less crowded this year, so don’t get lost in the noise.

Skip: When my wife and I first moved to the UK she always did our Christmas cards really early. At first it was to ensure they got there in time but after a year or two we realized that some family member would come over at Thanksgiving and we could send the cards back in their suitcase and save the overseas postage. The result for the recipients was a bit of envy for “how could she be so organized” but it also served as a reminder for them to do their own Christmas cards.

In addition to not leave it too late, Matt and I also stressed in the webinar that you should not treat the Christmas period as a series of discrete events but as a journey. For existing customers this is just a continuation of the relationship you have already built. For new customers, this should be the start of a series of purchases; not just a one-off. You should probably have already started planting the Christmas seeds even if you have not sent an email featuring a jolly man in a bright red suit.

Q – Are these percentages specific to a certain country/market or they are global? Black Friday figures vary wildly depending on niche and country.

Matthew: They are UK and US centric numbers. I completely agree that they can vary wildly by geography and a number of other variables and should only be used as a guide. Trends however, can be taken, some obvious, some less so. If you appreciate that there is a minimum 12 week extended purchasing period across the holiday season and that people will be buying for themselves and others, they will be buying across mobile and to a lesser extent desktop and they will not hold to brand loyalty unless you can provide an exceptional service (or price) then you will be thinking the right way.

These questions were submitted during the live recording of How to Get Holiday Ready: Your Festive Email Plan. The full recording is available to watch now.