How does Southeast Asian eCommerce giant Lazada solves its real-world issues? By engaging its employees through ideas and innovation.
Shopping online has become a way of life. With easy access to high speed internet and the vast array of products sold online, consumers are moving away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores. We’ve become perpetually glued to our phones and tablets looking for the next shopping deal but are you aware of what happens behind that shiny screen?
The competitive landscape of eCommerce in Southeast Asia has been discussed extensively. The eCommerce industry can be a challenging space with a lot of hustling involved. Yet, there is one such eCommerce juggernaut that has managed to stay at the forefront in Southeast Asia. One reason for Lazada’s success is its belief in the need to keep employees engaged to fuel the company’s culture of innovation.
Innovation cannot be simply for innovation’s sake. There is need for ideas to be aligned with business goals. With that in mind, Lazada Labs was born. In Lazada’s first in-house innovation program, its employees, affectionately known as Lazadians, were tasked to devise actual solutions to solve real business issues.
With the aim of grooming talents and honing entrepreneurial skills, coupled with the belief that great ideas can come from anyone in the company, Lazada Labs encouraged grassroot ideation and interactions across departments. The competition brought together employees from the technology and business departments, and the cross functional teams convened and brainstormed solutions ranging across different topics.
From adopting disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) to strategies and tools to improve customer experience – over 60 ideas were identified within a span of a month. Teams were formed around these ideas and eventually, the top 12 teams were shortlisted and flown from across Southeast Asia to Vietnam. Further ideation and development work ensued, culminating in a pitch and convincing a panel of Lazada senior management and stakeholders to support their idea. In the end, two teams were selected for a final intense 48-hour face-off in Singapore.
The winning idea which aims at delighting shoppers, by making online shopping more efficient and user-centric was developed by a team of cross functional experts, complementing each other in skillsets, ranging from data science to UI/UX design skills. The leader of the team, Eugene Yan, Senior Manager of Data Science in Lazada was encouraged by his colleagues to take part in the competition to learn more about the process of taking an idea from inception to fruition. “We didn’t expect to get so far! However, it has definitely improved my thinking process for future ideas and projects. I learnt how to communicate better with people from the business, to frame ideas better and getting the required buy-in for ideas.”
Sharing more about his experience participating in Lazada Labs, Eugene said, “Our data scientist team learnt that there are diverse talents in Lazada and we saw it in action. We had a designer in our team who built a prototype app in a few hours which blew the audience away.”
Tim Rath, Co-founder and Chief People Officer in Lazada shared, “We really united our company; connecting our tech and business teams. It was very cool to see the collaboration across work streams, and the bold ideas that were shared.”
With the success of Lazada Labs, Lazadians can expect more opportunities in the next run of Lazada Lab. If you need tips, Eugene advises, “Submit plenty of ideas and participate! It’s an eye-opening and highly educational experience.”
Evidently, to fuel innovation and stay ahead of the competition; companies will need to invest in nurturing their greatest asset – human capital.
By: Joseph Lim & Yi Ying