7 Strategic Steps to Kickstart Your E-Commerce Venture in Vietnam: A Beginner's Roadmap

7 Strategic Steps to Kickstart Your E-Commerce Venture in Vietnam: A Beginner's Roadmap

Our clients who are expanding into Vietnam often ask us for the following requests.
  • We want to start selling products that we sell in B2C e-commerce in Japan and other countries in Vietnam.
  • We want to focus on B2C sales to increase the profit margin of products that we currently sell wholesale B2B to retailers and distributors in Vietnam.
If your main business is manufacturing or wholesale, you may not know where to start with e-commerce and digital marketing in Vietnam. Therefore, this article introduces 7 steps to efficiently start and optimize your e-commerce sales, which we, as a digital e-commerce/advertising agency in Vietnam, actually work on when assisting you!
Note that many Vietnamese business persons are used to working with Google Spreadsheets, so the screenshots in the examples below are taken from planning on Google Spreadsheets.

1. Competitor and Market Research

The first and foremost task is market research.
This is the so-called 3C analysis (Customer/Company/Competitor), which determines the market size of the target product in Vietnam, what the competitors' USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and core messages are for that market, and which channels, media and platforms they mainly use for promotion.
For example, if you sell cosmetics, Korean/Chinese cosmetics would be a major competitor, and if you sell Japanese rice, local rice such as 'ST25' would be a major competitor.
Through this research, identify your company's e-commerce focus products and decide which niche markets to approach to solve what problems for your customers.
Use the following methods to conduct your competitor and market research.
  • Customer interviews (N1 analysis)
  • Competitors' Meta Pixel and Google ad tag settings
  • Access status of competitors' websites using Similarweb
  • Check the promotion features and review comments on the competitor's product pages
  • Check search volume and increase/decrease on Google using Key Word Planner and on e-commerce malls using Metric.
Also, if you already have customer data, look back at that data in detail. Taking the time to understand your customers and market in this first step is the most important step.

2. Setting KPIs

Set KPIs for the first month, three months, six months, and one year, respectively, by working backward from the goal (KGI) that you ultimately want to achieve through e-commerce and the timeframe for achieving that goal. Metrics generally used in KPIs are below.
  • CPA (Cost per Acquisition)
  • ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend)
  • ROI (Return on Investment)
  • CPC (Cost per Click)
The most common KPIs for advertising are CPA and ROAS. However, for new brands in the Vietnamese market, a full-funnel overall optimization is required first. In many cases, it may be necessary to increase sessions on the company's e-commerce marketplace/website first, with CPC as the KPI for increasing awareness and retargeting ad.
Furthermore, many Japanese cosmetic brands are entering the Vietnamese market, but unlike Japan, there is no custom of subscription purchases in Vietnam, so operating with LTV (Life Time Value) as a KPI is more difficult and should be prepared to be a longer-term initiative.
If you are new to digital strategy, it is difficult to set appropriate KPIs immediately, so you will need to brush up on more rational KPIs by running PDCA on a weekly or monthly basis.
In many cases, it is difficult for a new brand to surpass the break-even point in a short period, and we recommend setting a roadmap for six months to a year to start with.

3. Create a Media Plan

Based on the outputs of steps 1 and 2, design what kind of audience and in what kind of media you will advertise and communicate with.
Basically, in the case of B2C e-commerce, we will only use Meta or both Meta and Google ads, but there are a thousand different ways to set up the objective and menu of Meta ads. Depending on your marketing funnel, design ad delivery that is effective for both branding and performance.
When utilizing e-commerce marketplaces such as Shopee and Lazada, ad distribution should be enhanced at the timing around each campaign date, so planning by two granularities, monthly and daily, is recommended.
Also, if you already have a website with many sessions and a large number of products, you should consider media that can deliver dynamic retargeting, such as Criteo, RTB House, and Admicro.

4. Organize Information on the site

Depending on the platform, such as an e-commerce marketplace (Shopee/Lazada/TikTok Shop), own e-commerce site, or LP (landing page), place information to increase CVR (Conversion Rate = purchase rate) based on steps 1 to 3.
In addition, design Meta Pixel, Google Ads, and Google Analytics HTML tag events according to the information placement.
Furthermore, you should use the Keyword Planner for Google Search and Metric for e-commerce marketplaces to create a site structure and content plan based on SEO.

5. Develop a Creative Plan

We will plan the size, quantity, messaging, and layout of the creative (images and videos) required for your advertisements and website.
If you are unable to produce creative in-house, you can make use of communities such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Adobe's Behanse. As there are many freelance digital creators in Vietnam, you can outsource work to freelance designers with portfolios that match your company's tastes at a relatively low cost.

6. Create a Promotional Plan

When utilizing e-commerce marketplaces (Shopee, Lazada, TikTok Shop), major promotions are held every month, such as on the day when the month and day have the same number (e.g. March 3) or on payday (25th of each month). Basically, sales increase significantly on campaign days rather than normal days, so it is effective to set up discounts, combos, and other promotions to coincide with the timing around the campaign.
Vietnamese users have the mindset that "it is normal to get discounts in e-commerce marketplaces", so set up strategic promotions to the extent that you can ensure profits.

7. Create Content Calendar

Finally, social media management is very important in the mid to long term. The active use of Facebook is very high in Vietnam, so depending on the product, it would be good to post on your Facebook page basically 2~3 times a week if you are a B2C company. It is good if you can post not just product introductions, but also posts based on trends, useful information, achievements in other countries, and CSR activities.
Vietnamese people are used to spending time on Facebook, so Facebook pages are easy to engage with. Give users some kind of incentive (e.g. gift) to share, comment, and like, it is effective to prepare interactive content called 'mini-games' that encourage users to share, comment, and like.
Mini-game sample of Rohto Vietnam
Mini-game sample of Rohto Vietnam
Mini-game sample of Công Ty Dược Phẩm MID
Mini-game sample of Công Ty Dược Phẩm MID

Need help with planning?

We plan according to the above steps and then manage the e-commerce marketplace, advertisements, and social media in an integrated manner. For more detailed information on how to proceed with planning, please contact us using the form below!