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5 Highlights from the Southeast Asian ecommerce landscape

In Thailand, around 50% of online shoppers make purchases through a social network – making it the biggest social commerce market in the world

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The region of Southeast Asia is a diverse and fragmented landscape having disparate infrastructure and fickle government regulations, making it hard for global brands to find a one-size-fits-all solution to conquer $238 billion in market potential.

However, despite the diversity of each country, there is a common theme apparent for ecommerce in the region as can be gathered in ecommerce landscapes in IndonesiaThailandMalaysiaSingapore and the Philippines.

Here’s what we have discovered from the Southeast Asian ecommerce landscape in 2016.

1. The domination of Lazada – or soon, Alibaba

One player that has succeeded in making a name for itself in every country across the region is Lazada Group.

In Thailand, around 50% of online shoppers make purchases through a social network – making it the biggest social commerce market in the world

The company, introduced by Samwer Brother’s Rocket Internet in 2012, has dominated monthly web traffic by millions in almost every country. Their recent acquisition by Alibaba has only cemented their position of power and plays a key role in Jack Ma’s big plan for Southeast Asia.

The only market with local players that puts up a decent fight with the giant is Indonesia. The country has several big players in the B2B2C sector – MatahariMall and Blibli to name a few – backed by big enterprises or conglomerates. But deep pockets is not the only thing that gives these players an upper hand, local knowledge of the market is also a big advantage.

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With the looming news of Amazon’s expansion into Southeast Asia with Singapore next year, Lazada doesn’t seem to be worried as they have the advantage of years of consumer data and its latest acquisition of Redmart is seen as the latest effort to thwart Amazon at its own game.

2. M&A as a strategy to survive

Ecommerce is a long term game. Even with a good business model, companies need to be able to sustain themselves for the marathon before they even have a chance to make profit, let alone reap the other additional benefits of going online.

This year, the region has seen a lot of acquisitions as players attempt to expand market share or make an entrance. This includes the old news of ‘Alizada’, a $1 billion acquisition that left players in the industry trembling with excitement or the acquisition of Caarly by Carousell to accommodate the growing interest of people looking for cars on the mobile platform.

Some of the acquisitions were done by non-ecommerce players hoping to expand their reach. There is the latest move by K-Fit, a subscription fitness startup, acquiring Groupon in Indonesia and Malaysia; and the exit of Zalora in Thailand and Vietnam to Thailand’s conglomerate, Central Group, earlier this year.

With hundreds of players clamoring for a chunk of market share, it’s only time before natural selection leaves only the strongest and most committed players in the arena.

3. Payments sector is saturated, but no true problem-solver

Payments is still one of the largest hurdles for ecommerce in the region despite the financing boom for Southeast Asian fintech startups in 2016. Numerous startups are attempting to create a payments product for the sake of ‘doing fintech’ but aren’t addressing fundamental payment issues like a high unbanked population.

All across the region we see players in every market trying to address local financial challenges with little success.

In Thailand, the government’s effort to create a cashless society with PromptPay has been halted indefinitely when Government Saving Banks (GSB) ATMs fell victim to the cyber criminal.

Coins.ph in the Philippines is using bitcoin to increase financial inclusion in the country but is still at a nascent stage. In Indonesia, Telcos and even ride-sharing apps are fueling the high-profile race of mobile wallets – no doubt inspired by Alipay’s and WeChat early days strategy in China – but not a single e-payment option has become widespread.

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Bank transfers and cash-on-delivery (COD) still remain the top two most preferred payment methods and continues to cripple ecommerce.

4. The key to C2C is through mobile

Consumer-to-consumer is estimated to make up at least 30% of ecommerce market share in the region but is tricky to measure because it happens on social channels like Facebook and Instagram and payment typically happens offline.

In Thailand, around 50% of online shoppers make purchases through a social network – making it the biggest social commerce market in the world. Consequently, it has attracted Facebook to make the country its first test base for social commerce payments and Facebook Shop.

This habit of preferring social commerce pushes players to focus on mobile to be able to capture the customer in an already familiar environment. In Singapore, 38% of online shoppers are making purchases…

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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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