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10 Trends That Will Shape Southeast Asian Ecommerce in 2018

Even as we get closer to 2018, there are already numerous casualties in one of the most promising ecommerce growth markets in the world

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Alibaba’s entry into Southeast Asia served as social proof for many entrepreneurs and businesses that they were onto something big, which led to a year of exuberance for ecommerce in the region.

 

Even as we get closer to 2018, there are already numerous casualties in one of the most promising ecommerce growth markets in the world.

Alibaba doubled down on its Lazada investment by upping its share from 51 percent to 83 percent and in a push to monopolize the market, put grips on Tokopedia, arguably one of Lazada’s biggest competitors in Indonesia.

Tencent, through JD or directly, also began executing its China playbook by investing in companies like Sea, Go-Jek, Traveloka, Pomelo Fashion and Tiki.vn.

“We’re just at the beginning, [the Alibaba-Lazada deal] will kickstart the whole cycle. It will attract more global investments into the region, and attract more entrepreneurs who now see this region as a great place to start a business.” — Stefan Jung, founding partner at Indonesia-based Venturra Capital in an interview with Tech in Asia

Global attention from the US came from KKR, who through Emerald Media, put $65M into ecommerce ‘arms dealer’ aCommerce in a bid to replicate Baozun’s dominance in the Chinese “TP” (Tmall Partner) landscape.

And the plays won’t stop here.

Leveraging newly consolidated positions of strength, marketplaces will cross traditional boundaries and move into areas like private label brands and offline distribution. Brands will also feel increasingly cornered, facing a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

Those that survive 2018 will have to find a niche for themselves, such as in fashion or home, because there isn’t much room left for another horizontal ecommerce player. Others will be tempted to take risky shortcuts like say, raising money through ICOs.

2018 will also see Tencent, not Alibaba or a local company, emerge as the winner in mobile payments in Southeast Asia.

It might be a good time to start learning Chinese.

1. Plata o Plomo: Southeast Asia ecommerce will be increasingly factionalized into Alibaba and Tencent camps, and locals will pick sides

Given its similarities to China roughly 10 years ago, Southeast Asia has become a gold rush for Chinese Internet giants looking to expand beyond the mainland. It was Alibaba’s acquisition of Lazada last year that triggered an arms race between China’s #1 and #2 in Southeast Asia, and in turn, will cause local companies to choose sides.

Alibaba also led a $1.1B investment in Tokopedia in 2017, continuing to place its biggest bets on ecommerce. Moving forward, the company is expected to position Lazada and Tokopedia as the Tmall and Taobao of Southeast Asia, respectively.

Meanwhile, Tencent has aggressively tried to replicate a three-prong formula that was successful in its fight against Alibaba in China: gaming, mobile and payments.

The first step was becoming the largest shareholder of Sea (previously Garena), predominantly a gaming powerhouse that runs Shopee, a mobile-first ecommerce marketplace and the second was placing bets on Go-Jek to become a “super app” like WeChat and WeChat Pay.

Understandable as WeChat Pay now commands an impressive 40% market share in China vs. AliPay’s 54%, up from 11% in 2015.

“Is there a land grab right now for these kind of assets? I think in the land grab they [Tencent] are following us. They are seeing that we have positioned ourselves very well, and they’re sort of playing a catch up game. So what we want to do is, since we already have our positions, is to work with local entrepreneurs.” — Joe Tsai, Alibaba Vice Chairman, in speaking with Bloomberg.

Tencent and Alibaba share price increase over last 7 years compared to Amazon and NASDAQ composite
Source: Yahoo Finance (December 4, 2017)

With both Tencent and Alibaba market caps at all-time highs, we expect this trend to continue throughout 2018 with both sides gobbling up more local companies across the ecommerce ecosystem and upping shares in existing ones.

2. Facing slow organic growth, Amazon will acquire a company to fast-track its ecommerce expansion in the emerging region

Amazon’s entry into “Southeast Asia” was the biggest surprise and non-surprise at the same time.

A non-surprise because Amazon’s long-awaited and rumored soft-launch into Singapore was widely covered by the media even before the company’s Prime Now services officially became available on July 26, 2017.

A surprise because Amazon’s expected tour-de-force across the region ended before it even started.

Amazon fanboys celebrated the initial launch of a scaled down, poor man’s version of Amazon — Amazon Prime Now — offering a…

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Ecommerce

Thailand Ecommerce Market: Shooting For Success

At present, the Thai ecommerce market is valued at USD 3.5 billion. According to a Google Temasek study, Thailand’s e-commerce market value is expected to surge to 13 billion USD by 2025 on the back of strong global demand for Thai products.

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Thailand’s nascent e-commerce industry is thriving and making serious money. According to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, Thai e-Commerce grew the most in ASEAN, the value of Thai ecommerce grew 14% in 2018, estimating that the value would increase to USD 103 billion, and its growth is expected to hit 20% this year.

The region is flourishing

According to the report Asia-Pacific B2C E-Commerce Market, over one half of total global online retail sales happens in the Asia-Pacific region. Over 50% of all the online shopping for retail goods and services takes place in the Asia Pacific region, and South-East Asia accounts for about 40% of the e-commerce market of the region.

Southeast Asia is definitely a new big e-commerce hit, and the region is currently a very attractive market for big players involved globally in the e-commerce sector and smaller local companies.

At a reflection point of Internet penetration and mobile devices rapid spread, the population of Southeast Asia is quickly adapting its behaviors to take advantage of new purchasing products and services online opportunities.

According to the latest e-Conomy Southeast Asia 2018 report from Google and Singapore-based Temasek, the digital economy in Southeast Asia is on track to hit $240 billion by 2025, which is $40 billion more than previous estimates.

The digital economy in Southeast Asia is on track to hit $240 billion by 2025

As e-commerce continues to grow exponentially, Southeast Asia will account for 20% of worldwide e-commerce by as early as 2022.

Thriving Market

With a GDP worth of USD 602 billion, Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, surpassed only by Indonesia. In addition to that, according to EcommerceIQ research, Thailand is also the second largest Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce market in the region.

At present, the Thai ecommerce market is valued at USD 3.5 billion. According to a Google Temasek study, Thailand’s e-commerce market value is expected to surge to 13 billion USD by 2025 on the back of strong global demand for Thai products.

As Ebay’s General Manager for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia border trade Jenny Hui has stated, Thai products are in global demand, with jewelries and watches, health and beauty products, auto parts, home and garden, and collectibles rapidly gaining popularity.

Electronics is currently the leading product category, accounting for USD 1.3 billion market share.

Fashion is second, accounting for USD 525 million. According to Statista, online shoppers in Thailand spend on average $283.95 USD online annually, and four years from now, this sum is expected to grow to $401.73 USD.

Young Mobile-First Generation of Users

What makes the country a true breeding ground for ecommerce is its great number of internet users – one of the highest in Southeast Asia. At present, Thailand has an Internet penetration rate of 57.4% with Millennials making up the majority and spending on average 53.2 hours a week online.

When comparing the number of Internet users over the past 10 years, there were only 16.1 million Internet users in 2008 and the number reached approximately 45 million in 2018; moreover, at present there are 124.8 million mobile subscribers, 44 million people using LINE messenger and 52 million Facebook users.

Internet-savvy young people here definitely play a key role in driving mobile commerce. Thailand is a regional leader in mobile commerce, as 52% of online transactions take place via mobile devices (only South Korea is higher with 58%). According to the Thailand Marketing Research Society, 71% of smartphone users in Thailand shop online an average of twice a month, while 90% intend to shop online in the future. 

On top of that, a growing middle class with increasing incomes also plays a huge role in this surge trend.

Big players bet big on it

Thailand’s market size and e-commerce potential has made it an appealing market to foreign investment. In the last two years, Chinese Internet giants like Alibaba and JD.com have invested in Thailand.

Alibaba through its USD $3.7 billion investment in Lazada in 2018, and USD $306 million injection into the first stage of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), while JD.com has poured USD $457 million into a joint-venture with Thailand’s leading retail conglomerate, Central Group. E-commerce is the leading category that has received the greatest foreign investment compared to payment, logistics, fintech and food and beverage sectors.

Consequently, the increase in interest from foreign investors in Thailand’s e-commerce sector has encouraged local firms to increase their competitiveness and encouraged more SMEs in Thailand to innovate in the areas of online commerce, fintech and artificial intelligence. The investment also resulted in more joint ventures between offline wholesale companies and online companies.

Affiliate marketing opportunities

According to affiliate network Indoleads, e-commerce success brings also a bunch of great affiliate-marketing offers. About 97% of all Thailand’s ecommerce brands use affiliate marketing to attract customers. That means the opportunities for publishers are limitless, and the programs are abundant.

Lazada, Shopee and JD Central are one of the most attractive ones. The three platforms have strong financial support from larger firms. Lazada is backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, while Shopee is supported by Tencent, another massive Chinese company. JD Central is a joint venture of China’s JD.com and Thailand’s Central Group.

These three online marketplaces in Thailand are drawing each in over 30,000,000 sessions per month, providing brands with high visibility, and give publishers a higher chance to earn commission through sales.

Not only big international players have appealing affiliate programs. A variety of local e-commerce stores widely use affiliate marketing. For example, Namu life, a leading retailer of skincare products produced with natural ingredients, is one of the most popular shops in this niche. It is not a secret that skincare products are always in high demand in Thailand, so there is always a great choice of online stores selling them.

Another one is CMART, Thailand’s most popular e-commerce website, selling almost everything from electronics to health and beauty products and providing top-notch service. CMART has developed a successful multi–channel strategy and innovative operating model.

The travel aggregators and platforms, such as Bookaway, are also extremely popular not only among locals, but also thousands of foreigners permanently living in Thailand.  

In the perspective of flourishing Thailand ecommerce market, affiliate marketing is very likely to present real and meaningful chance to reach consumers in novel, creative way to drive performance-based results. Publishers definitely should consider this option for sure.

Indoleads are happy to present you all these amazing opportunities. Indoleads is one of the leading affiliate platforms in South-East Asia. They have 500 CPS/CPL/CPA direct affiliate offers from over 60 countries around the globe. Our team is dedicated to your affiliate business success, so join Indoleads to promote Thailand brands and cut a piece of cake from their enormous revenue!

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China

Cross-border e-commerce: How Thai SMEs can win over Chinese hearts?

It is expected that by 2020, China’s CBEC import value will reach CNY 3 trillion, representing a compound average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30%, a growth rate highest among all types of trade.

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Navigating thru China’s cross-border e-commerce: How Thai SMEs collaboration can win over Chinese hearts?

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Ecommerce

Thailand to fight counterfeit product sales online

Any buyers who want to report pirated or counterfeit products being sold online can contact the Department of Intellectual Property hotline on 1368.

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MBK fake watches

Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property is cooperating with a famous online shopping website owner to resolve and prevent counterfeit product sales online.

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