8 TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE SOUTHEAST ASIA E-COMMERCE IN 2019

Credit by Nichakorn Prateepsawangwong


2018 was dubbed as the year of ecommerce for the region, so what can we expect in 2019? We speak to industry leaders to discover the anticipated trends for online retailers and brands in Southeast Asia.


1. Brands Shift Their Focus from Data Gathering to Data Utilization

The biggest differentiator between online and offline retail is the ability to track, collect, monitor, and manage information, all in real time.

Through online channels, brands are able to access customer data through chats, social media, and their own websites. This information can be used to devise online strategies. Globally, 73% of brands plan to allocate their ecommerce budget on data & analytics services in 2019.




2. Social Commerce Channels are Brands’ New Sales Outlets

Social commerce in this region boomed before the rise of ecommerce as we know now.

Facebook groups have long established as an online space where people connect to buy and sell goods, even before the launched of Marketplace feature. The social media’s rapid growth in Southeast Asia is propelled by mobile adoption and smartphone, where 90% of the online population access the internet via smartphones. For some, Facebook even defines the internet itself.

“Brands will miss out if they don’t have a social media presence. The best way to get feedback from consumers is by having a direct conversation,” Deb Liu, Vice President, Facebook Marketplace told Forbes.

A few big brands like L’Oreal have already equipped their social media page with ‘Shop’ feature that allows consumers to purchase the order directly on the page and it’s only a matter of time before more brands activate the platforms as one their sales channels and remove another layer between them and the consumers.



3. E-Marketplaces Launch New Services to Differentiate


In a bid to recruit more brands to sell on their platforms, we anticipate that e-marketplaces will continue to go head-to-head with each other through new services, acquisitions, and partnerships. Ready to burn more cash to win in this battle, e-marketplaces?


4. Brands to Reinforce Reviews and Fund User-Generated Content to Win Ecommerce Consumers

“Consumers today want to hear genuine feedback and reviews about a product and become more averse to hard-sell methods. [User-generated] Reviews, especially from people who share the same passion with them, proved to drive better conversion for the brand,” added Edouard Steinert.

5. Brands Employ Direct-to-Consumer strategies to Acquire Direct Consumer Data

89% of companies are now competing mostly on a customer experience playing field and the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) approach is becoming more important for brands as it allows them to gain insights into their end users and anticipate their needs.


One trend observed among brands to promote DTC is ecommerce subscription. From a consumer perspective, subscription offers a convenient, personalized, and often cheaper way to buy what they need. For brands, it’s a subtle method to create customer loyalty in the digital landscape.


6. 2019 Will Finally see Regulation of Ecommerce across the Region


Ecommerce practice in the region has remained largely unregulated as a nascent occurrence. As the industry grows, it is only a matter of time until governments step in to tax this fast-growing segment and level the playing field for foreign companies to offer digital services and goods locally.



7. Grab and Go-Jek Challenge Logistics Providers to Capture Ecommerce and Online Food Delivery


Both companies are not racing to be the best ride-hailing providers, they’re aiming for something much bigger; super apps. Go-Jek has secured $1 billion funds from Google, Tencent, and JD.com in part of their plan to raise $2 billion for this venture. Meanwhile, Grab recently nabbed $200 million investment from Thailand’s Central Group, boosting their valuation to 11 billion to date.


8. Brands and Retailers will Double Down on Omnichannel is Southeast Asia’s Preference over Pure-Play Ecommerce


The omnichannel shopping experience is not a new concept, but companies do have diverse interpretations of the concept. Headlines revealed that online retail behemoths, such as Amazon and Alibaba, are moving into physical retail.


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