How Global #FOMO is Driving Growth for ECommerce Businesses

Accessible and inclusive cross-border logistics services are helping businesses to create competitive advantage and capitalize on trend cycles

Following the explosive rise of eCommerce, we are witnessing a new medium that is spurring the next wave of growth — short videos. Here, influencers and consumers film short videos of their online purchases, often with tutorials and reviews to lay out the product benefits. Coupled with media coverage in fashion and beauty magazines, the virality of such content on digital and social platforms has propelled previously-commonplace products into the spotlight and driven global sales demand for merchants.

According to GlobalWebIndex, 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase products and services based on social media referrals, while Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to be influenced, with 84% of millennials saying user-generated content has at least some influence on how they spend their money.

So every few months, when a beauty or fashion trend sweeps the algorithms on video platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube, it has a direct impact on eCommerce sales. It is interesting to note that the latest popular items are typically low-cost local products such as Gua sha tool (pronounced gwa sha), a traditional Chinese medicine practice where one takes a tool, typically made from jade or rose quartz, and scrapes it across the skin in an effort to improve one’s skin condition.

While the gua sha facial tool has recently exploded in popularity on social media platforms, the practice is nothing new. It actually predates modern medicine and originated in China, where the stones were once used to treat various illnesses.

As of May 2021, the hashtag #guasha has accumulated more than 432 million views on TikTok, with users claiming the tool has cleared their skin, reduced wrinkles and provided a more sculpted appearance. This trend has created what is commonly known as the ‘FOMO’ i.e. fear of missing out, effect, which is driving much of the surge in consumer demand for such products.

Logistics Scenario Versus Consumer Needs

These low-cost products tend to be tagged to economy shipping options to minimize total cost. Here, shipping typically takes 30–50 days and does not include parcel tracking services, which increases the likelihood of lost parcels and missed deliveries.

However, it is also noteworthy that consumers tend to approach such purchases with the intention of satisfying their curiosity and also the desire to experience the product for themselves after watching the video reviews and tutorials. Hence, they aren’t keen to fork out too much for shipping while still yearning for some form of (close to) instant gratification.

Most importantly, these fads tend to last about 1–2 months, of which there is only a 2–3 weeks period where merchants reap the most profits, thereafter, consumers will move on to the next trendy item. This meant that merchants have a short window to capitalize on consumers’ interest and attention in order to maximize their profits.

Striking the Perfect Balance Between Cost and Efficiency

With low profit margins for low-cost items, merchants are now exploring strategic ways to achieve the balance between cross-border shipping cost and delivery efficiency. The former is key to keeping the price competitive and reducing barrier to purchase; the latter is critical for delivering superior customer experience in order to nurture a pool of loyal overseas customers who will conduct repeat purchases with each trend cycle. A faster delivery will also signal shorter sales cycle, ensuring that merchants have a quick turnaround for their cash outlay to sustain their businesses in the long term.

Latest research has revealed that 97% of consumers have abandoned their cart due to inconvenience, of which delivery efficiency is one of the factors, while 62% of customers say they share bad customer experiences with other people. This further reinforces the importance of a customer-centric eCommerce strategy with focus on the cross-border shipping efficiency without compromising on costs.

Unlike Chinese consumers who get to enjoy same-day or next-day delivery services after purchasing their products online or via live-streaming, overseas consumers often have to deal with longer shipping durations, depending on their destination country.

Here, Cainiao has leveraged a global logistics network and technological capabilities to provide smart order consolidation services to these merchants. The low item cost and high order volume nature of such products creates a strong business case for consolidating individual consumer orders into a single large package. This justifies the use of faster shipping services without impacting per unit shipping cost, which in turn shortens shipping duration by at least 50% to just 15–20 days, from the previous 30–50 days. Parcels will also be entitled to last mile real-time tracking which prevents lost packages.

Cainiao’s data revealed that in Russia, customers who used smart order consolidation for their shipping are 2–3 times more likely to buy from the merchant again as compared to those who use the slower economy shipping service.

Demystifying Smart Order Consolidation

Cainiao’s proprietary data intelligence technology gave rise to the use of smart order consolidation. Here, Cainiao will be able to intelligently identify various eCommerce purchases made by the same consumer and group them into a single package for cross-border shipping. Traditionally, various merchants would each employ the direct mailing option that results in the issuance of multiple individual packages to the consumer’s destination country.

With a consolidated parcel, consumers will get to benefit from faster and more cost-effective shipping services such as the ‘USD5 10-day delivery’ service on certain leg of the cross-border shipping process.

Cainiao’s smart order consolidation was made possible by tapping on machine learning and big data analytics, integrated with a digitalized logistics platform that is equipped with full-chain IoT technology.

Today, over 3.8 million parcels are processed daily using Cainiao’s smart order consolidation, involving over a billion decision-making processes which culminated in the formulation of nearly 200 decision-making frameworks based on various cross-border logistics scenarios.

Follow us on LinkedIn to stay updated



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Cainiao Network

Cainiao Network


The logistics arm of Alibaba Group. Follow us for content on smart logistics and supply chain management