Weekly Focus APAC: NTUC Income Goes Direct to Consumers with Online Portal


In this edition of Weekly Focus APAC: NTUC Income Goes Direct to Consumers with Online Portal; Singtel Opens Unmanned Retail Store; McDonald’s Cooks Up New Members with Ele.me Linkup; CITIC Bank Hops on JD.com for Gift Delivery; and Lazada Image Search Clocks 500k Uses Daily.

NTUC Income Goes Direct to Consumers with Online Portal

Singapore-based NTUC Income has launched an online portal and a “digital adviser” as part of its efforts to make life insurance services available directly to consumers.

Through its Online Life portal, consumers can directly purchase 18 savings and protection plans including six riders, and tap the website for product comparisons so they can differentiate product features and benefits. They will also be able to customise premiums, sums assured, and policy duration on the portal.

Consumers who want to first carry out a financial review before making a purchase can turn to a digital adviser, askSage, on the portal. The “self-serve advisory” can help consumers review their life insurance needs before offering a shortlist of relevant products based on these requirements. The digital adviser currently can review 25 income savings and protection plans, including six riders, for online consumers.

NTUC Income’s COO Peter Tay, who heads its digital transformation office, says: “The integrated proposition of Online Life and askSage is powerful because, for the first time, consumers are supported with digital assets that enable self-service of life insurance seamlessly online, from fact-finding, financial review, and needs analysis, to direct product identification, comparison, and purchase.

“For digital natives who primarily prefer online engagements, the integrated digital proposition is timely in extending their access to life insurance and closing their protection gap. This is significant as traditional outreach by financial advisers to this segment of the community has proven to be challenging.”

Singtel Opens Unmanned Retail Store

The Singapore telco has opened an unmanned pop-up store that is open 24×7 and features a live bot able to assist visitors with customised service.

Dubbed UNBOXED, the retail store is equipped with sample phones that shoppers can try out as well as video-powered self-service kiosks from which customers can sign up for mobile plans and make their purchases. They then can collect their devices from POPStation, or parcel lockers, located in-store.

They also will be able to browse and purchase accessories such as phone cases, power banks, and headphones. Existing customers, too, can make bill payments, top up their prepaid cards or Singtel Dash mobile wallets, and get SIM card replacements.

The in-store roving live bot is suited up with facial recognition technology so it can offer recommendations personalised for the customers it is assisting.

The pop-up store itself is mobile and will be relocated every few months to serve customers at high-traffic areas, such as transport hubs and school campuses, Singtel said. Currently placed in Singapore’s CBD at 20 Pickering Street, the store measures 45 square metres when fully extended and can be reconfigured to fit different spaces.

Singtel’s Singapore CEO of consumer Yuen Kuan Moon said: “The future of retail is here and now. Our digital transformation integrates online and offline customer touchpoints to deliver fresh and fuss-free buying experiences to consumers.

“UNBOXED fulfils the needs of today’s consumer and provides a peek into the next-generation of retail–fast, instant, convenient, and experiential.”

McDonald’s Cooks Up New Members with Ele.me Integration

The fast food chain has linked up its loyalty programme with Alibaba Group’s Ele.me app, enabling McDonald’s customers in China to earn points via the online delivery platform.

Ele.me users can activate their McDonald’s membership with a single click on the app and start earning loyalty points for their fast food purchases, according to Alibaba.

The partnership drove almost 20,000 new members on the first day of launch and fuelled a 20% increase in single-day orders over the previous week, said McDonald’s China. The fast food chain operates more than 3,100 outlets across the country, with more than 2,000 of these available on the Ele.me app.

It launched its membership programme last year, letting McDonald’s customers earn points for purchases made in-store or via its app. It currently has more than 75 million loyalty members.

McDonald’s China’s head of brand extension Emily Pang said: “Integrating our loyalty program with Ele.me helps us provide more customers with a complete set of membership services and benefits, which ultimately enhances the delivery experience.”

Lazada Image Search Clocks 500K Users Daily

Southeast Asian e-commerce operator Lazada Group says some 500,000 users are tapping its image search function on a daily basis, with the platform retrieving 30 million product results each day.

Launched earlier this year, the search function enables online shoppers to search for products by taking or uploading images on the retail marketplace. It has proven highly marketable and especially useful for product categories such as fashion and electronics, according to Raymond Yang, Lazada’s chief product officer.

Speaking at Alibaba Cloud Summit in Singapore last week, he said the image search function also was particularly relevant for a region that comprised multiple local languages.

Yang explained that from analysing its search engine and user patterns, consumers in the region typically would not use many keywords to search for products, excluding text such as brand names from their searches.

The introduction of image search aimed to resolve this gap, he said, adding that 60% of women who used the function chose to upload images–rather than take them–that they likely had downloaded from social networks.

CITIC Bank Hops on JD.com for Gift Delivery

China CITIC Bank has appointed local e-commerce operator JD.com as its exclusive gifts delivery provider, offering the service to the bank’s credit and debit cardholders as part of its loyalty points programme.

The partnership has streamlined processes for China CTIC, slashing the average delivery time across China from 5.5 days to 2.5 days and improving efficiencies by more than 100%, according to JD.com.

The bank works with several gift suppliers to provide a range of products from which its customers choose when they redeem their loyalty points. The delivery of these gifts previously were handled individually by each gift supplier.

With the JD.com partnership, gift suppliers now send their products to the e-commerce operator’s warehouse that is located nearest to them. From there, JD’com’s service team will handle the last-mile delivery to customers across China and each gift package will feature China CITIC’s logo.