Taking the store to the customer: a live-stream lockdown story

Malaysia went into lockdown in March, inspiring Digi’s store agents to quickly transform themselves into online retail agents to continue serving their customers.

Written: Sep 2020

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On an average day, Digi Telecommunications’ walk-in retail shops serve approximately 100,000 customers across Malaysia. On 18 March this year, though, that all changed due to a Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented nationwide. That meant all 185 Digi stores across the country closing overnight, leaving both store agents and walk-in customers stranded.

For the retail team at Digi, however, the lockdown meant that they needed to find a new way to connect with customers. With this challenge came new opportunity. Millions were stuck at home, which in a way was a marketing dream scenario, since it meant  a readily available, captive audience and a much larger market to tap into, virtually. Since the customers could not physically go to the stores, they decided to tap into this opportunity and bring the stores to the customers instead.

Digi store agents take on the online space to engage with customers

“We quickly collaborated with the Digi Store Online team to work out a new sales model which allows our store agents to help drive sales that can be fulfilled by the online team,” said Digi’s Chief Sales Officer Weng Hong Cheng, who managed the initiative in his previous role as Head of Consumer Sales.

Within four days, Digi store agents planned, created and executed their first online outreach. In addition to using Facebook and WhatsApp to update customers on how they can seek online support that they would normally get from the store, they thought out of the box and got creative.

Tapping on the livestream functions on Facebook and TikTok among other platforms, the store agents became online hosts and guides, promoting the store offerings through live web shows and interacting with customers via camera. Customers interested in the featured items would receive a direct link for purchase, which the online team would help to process.

Competing in the new online space was, however, a completely new ball game for these store agents

“I have been serving face-to-face over the counter since 2006 but overnight, this changed. It was challenging to interact with customers through a screen but learning to offer the right services to them gave me newfound skills and confidence,” said Paul Ratnam, a team lead at one of the Digi stores.

To move away from the brick and mortar stores, getting the fundamentals right is half the battle; great teamwork is required to bring it home

This included preparing and training store agents for new customer journeys online, and standardising the communications collaterals across the Facebook pages of the different retail stores. They also had to work with technical teams to set up strong operations support at the backend to track, report and reward the agents accordingly for sales done via live shows.

Adapting with a smile: Digi’s marketing and sales teams have enjoyed meeting the challenges of taking their stores online

Even post-lockdown, the retail team continues to do an average of 300 Facebook live sessions weekly, garnering thousands of viewers and drawing ing new customers who want to purchase products after seeing them featured online.

For Cheng, this new way of interacting with customers is here to stay. “I believe that this will be the new norm and we will not return to our old ways of work. Consumer behaviour has changed and we should continue to capitalise on this new way of selling moving forward.”