Maximilian Bittner, CEO of LazadaCEO of Lazada Group, Maximilian Bittner, was at Echelon Ignite Thailand to join the e-commerce panel. During his time there, I managed to sit down with him over a quick interview to find out more about Lazada’s operations in Southeast Asia and his thoughts about the e-commerce space in the region.

Lazada is Rocket Internet’s e-commerce service, which focuses on five countries in Southeast Asia, namely Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. According to Maximilian, there are also potential expansion plans for Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia but the team is currently focusing on making sure their first five markets are well taken care of.

What is it about these markets that attracted Lazada? According to Maximilian, Thailand has a very developed online ecosystem as the local e-commerce players are already spending heavily in advertising and educating customers, making shopping online familiar. Indonesia’s appeal is in its huge population, while Malaysia has a high gross domestic product (GDP) that makes it an attractive market for Lazada. Vietnamese customers spend the most time on the Internet, compared to their regional counterparts, making it an attractive market. Maxmilian sees his role of overseeing operations in five countries a plus for him as his team as there are big economies of scale in sharing experience and learning and implementing quickly across multiple markets.

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What’s the secret sauce behind Lazada’s rapid expansion? Maximilian says it is to focus on three to four things and to get them right. On the top of his list sits customer experience, a clear indication of what Lazada aims to achieve.

“Don’t forget that customers come first […] live and breathe the customer experience everyday.”

To do just that, Lazada uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a loyalty metric, to measure if people are happy with their service.

He also mentioned that building a really good assortment of products is what keeps driving customers, as they can find what they are looking for at a good price. Maximilian also understand the importance of investing in a good team, especially in local talent. The Lazada team is always on the look out for committed and hardworking members without discrimination of age or their background.

Having joined Rocket Internet in its early days and pretty much seeing the birth of Lazada in Southeast Asia, Maximilian explained that he and the team chose Southeast Asia as their home as they realized that there is no Amazon-like company in the region. While looking for a place to replicate their e-commerce model, they observed the high competition and market saturation in countries like the US and China before zooming in on the opportunities in Southeast Asia.