So many categories, so many awards to present
The Taichung Mazu International Festival outrivaled its competitors with a high score for its “uniqueness.” In recent years, festival organizers thought up schemes to attract a younger, entertainment-oriented crowd such as an app that allows adding festival highlights to one’s Facebook profile or mobile phone stickers featuring cartoons with good wishes from the Goddess Mazu. Such campaigns have turned the traditional, religious celebration into a modern cultural festival for a broader audience of all ages.
Companies not only compete with their industry peers; in some cases members of the same conglomerate emerge as rivals as well.
In the overall top ten rankings across all sectors and industries, the President Starbucks Coffee Corp. clinched victory over its affiliate, the President Chain Store Corporation, which also belongs to the retail conglomerate UniPresident Group. The Starbucks coffeehouse chain has been able to maintain its popularity by launching new services and products such as opening a drive-thru outlet in Tainan and selling its coffee beans online.
Store, which runs the 7-Eleven convenience store chain, last year headed the top-20 list for innovative ability, an indicator that had just been added to the survey. Yet this year, the online shopping portal 7net, another member of the UniPresident Group, took the No. 1 spot in innovation.
On the surface, President Chain Store’s brick-and-mortar stores seem to compete with the company’s own online shopping portals. But in reality, the company has created a successful business model for the integration of realworld and virtual stores.
7net has been able to set itself apart from its competitors because it is backed by Uni-President’s Logistic Sub-Conglomerate, which comprises more than 30 retail service subsidiaries. UniPresident brands such as Starbucks, the Muji lifestyle products and Organicshops health food are all sold on 7net. The portal also cooperates with the Black Cat delivery service, another group company, to bring local delicacies from all corners of Taiwan to every household.
For real-world stores with limited space, the convenience store in the cloud functions like an extended shop shelf. In a perfect interplay between the real and virtual worlds, customers buy online but they can pick up their goods at the convenience store around the corner if they choose, which again boosts foot traffic to the shops. It is a win-win situation for both sides.
Professional baseball was added to this year’s survey, bringing the number of industry sectors covered to 21. Baseball remains one of Taiwan’s most popular and most representative sports despite numerous betting and game-fixing scandals in the past. Nevertheless, the sector still needs to improve its services and image.
Lamigo Monkeys Think Across
In this first-time ranking, latecomer Lamigo Monkeys came from behind to clinch the top slot, outstripping favorites such as the Uni-President Lions, EDA Rhinos and Chinatrust Brothers.
The Taoyuan-based team reinvented itself, overturning expectations in the process. Competing with department stores and cinemas for the attention of its fans, the team wants the audience to enjoy watching the ball game even if the Lamigo Moneys are losing.
In this year’s survey, the online shopping sector was split into online shopping malls with a comprehensive selection of goods from all categories and vertical shopping platforms.
In the past, when Taiwan’s e-commerce market was still in its infancy, online vendors were forced to sell almost everything to be able to survive. With the ensuing boom in the e-commerce market, however, websites and vendors began to specialize in certain product categories such as creative products, fashion and shoes. With growing differentiation, the trend toward online specialty stores has gained steam.
Lativ, King of Online Specialty
In the field of vertical e-commerce platforms and online specialty stores, fashion apparel vendors reign, occupying the top five ranks.
Still leading the pack amid fierce competition, casual wear vendor Lativ, which was founded eight years ago, gripped the top spot.
Lativ has stayed true to its original design principle of offering simple men’s and women’s clothing in many colors at affordable prices. The company emphasizes basic skills such as logistics and inventory management, pursues high efficiency and never produces TV commercials in order to control costs.
At a time when the majority of e-commerce brands still relied on large online platforms to sell their products, Lativ decided to build its own website to stay in control of its sales channels as well as the company’s development. Thanks to this approach, Lativ secured not only high profit margins but also demonstrated that an online brand can survive independently. This confidence led to a whole new wave of e-commerce ventures.
Amid ever fiercer competition, Taiwan’s service sector can only remain at the top if it continues to exceed expectations, excel at integration, pursue uniqueness and continuously reinvent itself.
“The biggest secret of the services industry is constant progress and upgrading,” Hsu Chung-jen, Taiwan’s godfather of retailing, once noted. Hsu, president of supermarket chain PXMart, sums it up by saying, “Your biggest competitor actually is your customer.” Translated from the Chinese by Susanne Ganz Additional reading selections can be found at http://english.cw.com. tw