Winning Formulas for Brands and SMEs in Indonesia’s Online Shopping Festivals

September 29, 2021

The digital realm has undoubtedly provided a space for trade to happen without even a minute of pause, surpassing the limitations of time and geographical space. Among the many channels available and in favor today, Indonesia’s online marketplaces (where various kinds of stores have 24/7 open doors) gather the biggest number of visitors on a daily basis. Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia’s online marketplaces have successfully recreated the same feeling of hype and buzz typically present at offline festivals, yet with a safer and more efficient environment digitally. As a matter of fact, in 2020, some of these marketplaces experienced about 85% (Tokopedia) to 94% (Shopee) increment of monthly visitors.1

Acknowledging this, the People’s Representative Council (DPR) invited key figures of the nation’s largest tech companies in Indonesia to a Public Hearing Meeting (RDPU) under the theme of “moving the gears of trade within the country through e-commerce” earlier this month. In putting forward the #BanggaBuatanIndonesia (pride in local products) movement, each marketplace spokesperson shared their respective efforts on the matter, as the provider of facilities for hundreds of thousands and even millions of SMEs to sell online.2

“Indonesia stands first among the ten countries with the biggest e-commerce growth by 78%. Online trade has great economic value, hence should be optimised by sellers, especially those from the SMEs scale,” asserted the country’s 6th Commission Deputy Chairman. With all data findings pointing to the importance of the #BanggaBuatanIndonesia movement, a multitude of tech giants possess the adequate resources—database, technology, team, reach—to support the digital onboarding of SMEs in full sail.

Today, e-commerce players have come up with their respective commitment in accelerating the realisation of the movement and supporting SMEs in their journey of scaling up. Shopee has established ‘Kampus UMKM Shopee Ekspor’ (Campuses for SMEs to export goods) to provide SMEs complete support in their journey; starting from business enlistment, operations, training, to marketing, and the required facilities for it all.3 Tokopedia’s commitment called ‘Hyperlocal’ aims to improve SMEs’ competitiveness in the market through the usage of technology. One of their notable programs is Kumpulan Toko Pilihan (Selected Stores Directory) that eases consumers in shopping at stores located nearest to them. Participating brands have reportedly experienced up to fivefold the increment in transactions since joining the program.4

Gojek, which in this year merged with Tokopedia, executes their commitment through their #MelajuBersamaGojek (move forward with Gojek) initiative, offering various tech solutions within their ecosystem that’s apt for SMEs, along with the necessary knowledge for utilisation. Additionally, Bukalapak empowers SMEs in numerous aspects, one of them being a recent collaboration with BRI Asuransi Indonesia or BRINS to provide insurance protection for SMEs operating on the Bukalapak platform. This grants SMEs a solution for asset protection and quick claims.5

A Recap of the Third Quarter’s Marketplace Shopping Crowd 

Throughout 2021 so far, Shopee has consistently welcomed the double day dates as shopping festivals, showering nationwide consumers with plentiful promotions. In the 9.9 festival, the platform recorded 45 million products being sold on the platform within the first 99 minutes of the day. At the peak hour, it was reported that local SMEs selling on the platform experienced up to sixfold of sales increment in comparison to normal days. This was reflected in the types of products mostly sought after during the festival; classic Indonesian food and beverages, such as baso aci (meatball made out of flour), fried noodles, and cimol (fried meatball made out of flour).

SIRCLO’s end-to-end capabilities were able to capture interesting data findings during the 9.9 festival as well, with more than a 93% YoY growth in new users acquisition. It also came to our observation that consumers from provinces outside of West Java, Jakarta and Banten have been increasingly shopping online. Our data indicates that the total orders from these provinces grew almost 200% in comparison to last year during the same festival day.

Tokopedia had also recently discovered a particular consumer behaviour shift during their monthly Waktu Indonesia Belanja (WIB) Campaign, which coincided with Indonesia’s Independence Day. They discovered that products with nationalistic values such as the national flag, Indonesia-themed shirts, and Independence Day celebration props (kerupuk, tumpeng) were highly sought after by the consumers.7

Along with the #BanggaBuatanIndonesia movement, this behavior points to consumers’ growing pursuit of local products online, where items of strong nationalistic value and locally-sourced can be embraced by local entrepreneurs with open arms. In a survey by Katadata, 87.2% of respondents claim to prefer shopping from local brands as compared to foreign brands, as 88.8% prefer using local products. 82.3% argue their preference is founded on their embodiment of local pride.8

The Independence Day hype may transpire once a year, but coupling it with consumers’ enthusiasm in the #BanggaBuatanIndonesia movement, the love for local products is likely to sustain or even develop with the support of more strategic players in the digital ecosystem. That said, selling online is one thing, while seizing the right momentum to market one’s products is another matter of importance. Online platforms offer limitless opportunities and reach, which means it offers limitless competitors, too.

What can SMEs/local brands pay attention to, in order to stay competitive in online marketplaces during festive seasons? 

3 Winning Formula to Conquer Mega-Campaigns in the Fourth Quarter of 2021

Authenticity sticks better

Nowadays, soon-to-wed couples come up with unique wedding hashtags to let their guests document the special day online under the uniform hashtag. This shows that in this day and digital age, a creative message goes far and makes special moments more memorable. Local brands should not hesitate from doing the same—when campaigning on a platform with a multitudinous number of users and fellow sellers such as marketplaces, being unique and authentic are the key ingredients to stand out.

In crafting a campaign message, brands need to ensure it reflects authenticity, which will then make it easier for consumers to link it up to the brand. Despite that, authenticity also means realness; it needs to communicate what the brand can do, based on its own set of values and positioning in the market. In other words, the final message should be a combination of the brand’s unique selling proposition and a memorable touch of creativity. Brands also need to make sure that the campaign message is circulated and available across multiple platforms well, in order to direct consumers to the right landing page for purchase.

Lure a throng of visitors the right (digital) way

The first step to overcome before achieving conversion is getting consumers to visit the store. In an offline outlet, achieving this could be in the form of putting up promotional posters on the storefront, displaying the products by the store window, assigning one of the store clerks to hand out flyers or invite people in, and so on. The idea is essentially the same when it comes to online stores, as the same attractive promotions will lure visitors to check out what’s inside. However, it can all instead be fully and efficiently executed with the right digital marketing asset.

One example is online banners on marketplaces. Brands can simply put all the necessary information in one go; the promotion, aesthetic images of the products, inviting messaging, and even a hyperlink to visit the store directly. On top of that, these banners can be displayed on a flexible period of time, allowing brands to create the buzz early (rule of thumb: up to 2 weeks prior) for consumers to look forward to on the big festival day. Another form of promotion that brands can consider is e-vouchers or coupon codes. E-vouchers on marketplaces are able to be saved prior to the day of the festival, allowing your store to get into the consumers’ to-shop list much earlier as well.

Meet and exceed customers' expectations

Online shopping activities used to be primarily concentrated in more developed areas such as the Java and Bali provinces. However, consistent with SIRCLO’s findings,9 more online shoppers originate from other developing areas across the archipelago. This is a positive growth that further attests the impact of e-commerce in facilitating consumers’ access to products, nationwide. However, to reach that stage, there needs to be less barriers for consumers to shop online, one of them being high shipping fees.

Free shipping has gone through the full cycle of exceeding customers' expectations into becoming the bare minimum in the present time. Wherever the customer is based and the store is located at, the basic expectation held by shoppers everywhere is to not pay a shipping fee that exceeds the price of the product. Say, if they were at the final stage of checking out but the shipping fee appears too costly, customers can churn without a second thought. In simple terms, free shipping avoids customers from disappearing.

Now that offering free shipping during festive seasons covers the bare minimum, brands could opt for strategies that give bonus values in order to exceed the customers’ expectations. This doesn’t have to be done through a grand gesture or a pricey freebie—giving something thoughtful such as a thank you card, or a free mask that goes a long way in this pandemic can leave a great impression on the customers.

Parting Words

“Your new customers are digital, unpredictable, and easy to lose. Their expectations are growing and growing, so it’s very important to continue meeting them where they are. It’s not just about going digital, but it’s also about ultimately providing the customer experience, both online and offline, and to be the reliable brand they're looking for.”

Joseph Wibawa

Growth Account Executive of Adobe Commerce at Adobe

Q4 is about to be filled with an abundance of online shopping festivals in countdown to the National Online Shopping Day (Harbolnas) on 12th of December. Once brands get the hang of the 3 formulas above, they need to be prepared in terms of operations, stock management, and order fulfillment; especially when it comes to selling through multiple online channels. This is one of the things we simplify through SIRCLO Store’s dashboard; uploading products, updating stocks, and managing orders from multiple marketplaces and a website can be done through a single dashboard. As SIRCLO’s mission is to help brands sell online, we’re committed to introduce the latest advancements to our technology solutions that will futureproof SMEs’ capabilities in selling online effectively and efficiently.

Brand owners, we wish you all the best of luck!

In need of e-commerce solutions and support? Contact our team today:


SIRCLO neither provides regulated advice nor guarantee results. The materials we convey reflect general insight and best practice based on information currently available, and do not contain all of the information needed to determine a future course of action. Such information has not been generated or independently verified by SIRCLO and is inherently uncertain and subject to change. SIRCLO has no obligation to update these materials and makes no representation or warranty and expressly disclaims any liability with respect thereto.