Can Southeast Asia Live Up to Its E-commerce Potential?

30 May 2017

E-commerce in Southeast Asia is growing rapidly. Southeast Asia is currently number one in the world for digital adoption, when it comes to texting, tweeting and mobile technology. Bain & Company and Google have conducted a survey of Southeast Asian consumers which provides insights for consumer goods companies and e-commerce retailers. The main finding showed that while the online marketplace has much potential, it is yet to be achieved. The survey identified the key segments of Southeast Asian e-commerce consumers. These include the “all-around e-shoppers” (who buy across all categories), “beauty addicts” (who buy cosmetics), “wellness shoppers” (who buy health and beauty products), and “online travellers” (who buy travel). The challenges to Southeast Asia becoming a flourishing e-commerce marketplace include the region’s great diversity in terms of ethnicity, consumer preferences, regulations and languages. It also lacks solid logistics infrastructure.

Companies that want to enter the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia need to have a strategy and solid infrastructure. Southeast Asian consumers are technology leapfrogs: they prefer mobile technology for online purchases and like engaging video content for products. There is also a preference for search engines when looking for products and for social media shopping (such as through Instagram) rather than shopping on company websites. The online shopping experience and the range of available products are more important factors for using a particular retailer than the prices themselves. To succeed in this e-commerce environment, companies need to tailor the experience to local consumers and continually improve their offerings. It is vital to have a clear digital vision and strategy, choose the right e-commerce partners, and be ready for a long multi-year journey.

Read the full article on the Bain & Company website.

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