Introducing Forrester’s First Now Tech On E-Commerce Enablers For Southeast Asia Marketplaces

Updated: Apr 1

Southeast Asia is one of the most promising e-commerce markets in the world. Forrester forecasted that the 164 million online shoppers in Southeast Asia will account for $53 billion in retail purchases by 2023. Online marketplaces, including regional ones such as Lazada and Shopee and local ones like Tokopedia, dominate the region’s e-commerce landscape. COVID-19 is accelerating the trend of companies moving their businesses online and doubling down on e-commerce initiatives. Therefore, brands and retailers are increasingly leveraging e-commerce enablers, particularly those that focus on marketplaces.

Forrester defines an e-commerce enabler as:

A service provider that facilitates brands’ and retailers’ online retail efforts on marketplaces and beyond with services including e-commerce strategy, store operations, marketing, supply chain and logistics, and customer service.

For the first time, Forrester covers this vibrant and booming market in a recently published report, “Now Tech: E-Commerce Enablers For Southeast Asia Marketplaces, Q4 2020,” which provides an overview of 16 key players in the market.

In this report, we highlight the three key ways that e-commerce enablers help brands and retailers improve online retail efficiency:

  • Optimize e-commerce strategies. Brands need e-commerce enablers to navigate the region’s complex and fragmented online retail landscape, analyze market feasibility, identify the best online channels and growth opportunities, determine the right pricing strategy and forecasts, fine-tune online-to-offline integration plans, and analyze performance.

  • Facilitate online retail sales. E-commerce enablers help brands build and manage storefronts on marketplaces and sometimes on brands’ own websites, mobile apps, and social platforms. They facilitate the end-to-end sales process, from product information and order management to transaction and payment to fulfillment, delivery, and return.

  • Engage shoppers. E-commerce enablers help brands acquire new customers via myriad marketing efforts within and outside of marketplaces; launch promotions and campaigns to increase purchase variety, volume, and frequency; and deliver a good online shopping experience with timely responses to pre-sale and post-sale inquiries.

The revenues of many e-commerce enablers in Southeast Asia include two components: distribution and services. The 16 e-commerce enablers’ total revenue in the 2019 fiscal year varies from a few million dollars to more than US$100 million. Based on their revenues, we segmented them into three categories: large, midsize, and small.

To explore functionality at a deeper level, we broke the 16 e-commerce enablers into four segments, each with varying capabilities: regional full-service providers, regional specialists, local full-service providers, and local specialists.

To get the best value from their investment in e-commerce-enabling services, eBusiness leaders in Southeast Asia should analyze the gaps between their digital business needs and their internal e-commerce teams’ capabilities and identify the in-market enabler that can best fill these gaps.


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