Asia’s ecommerce and digital landscape has witnessed significant growth during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue its lead. The shift in consumer behavior, increasing internet and smartphone usage, and various new players entering the space has brought about an upswing in these sectors.
The growth of ecommerce has also contributed to the rise in digital financial services provided to small businesses and consumers. Digital shoppers increased in most countries during the pandemic and the shift in demand toward digital commerce is likely to continue in the years to come.
Uptake of ecommerce in Asia
Consumers in the region have made the greatest shift to online shopping. The major players in the online marketplace such as Amazon, Shopee, Grab, JD.Com and more have already seen an increase in sales and high inflow of new consumers over the last six months of 2020.
For instance, Singapore-based Sea Group’s gross profit in 2020 was USD 1.3 billion which was twice than that of 2019 mainly because its twin growth engines ecommerce and gaming both benefitted significantly from the pandemic. Shopee, Sea Group’s ecommerce arm posted USD 842.2 million as its GAAP revenue in the last quarter of 2020 It has been Southeast Asia’s most popular shopping app in 2020 in terms of monthly active users.
Besides that, to contribute to the development of online retail, a few have received investments, thus increasing their value in the market.
The key factor contributing to the growth of online retail sales in Asia is the surge in the amount of groceries bought on the internet. According to industry analysts, the market share gained by the online channels is likely to continue due to the extended length of the pandemic that will make these shopping habits ingrained.
Another factor that has contributed to the upsurge in Asia’s ecommerce and digital sector has been the government responses to protect businesses and individual incomes. For instance, Indonesia launched a capacity-building programme to speed up digitalization and digitization among micros and SMBs.
The response of ecommerce and digital platforms
Ecommerce platforms have realized that they have to shelf all kinds of products to serve the needs of people. The increase in demand and preference to buy from online platforms means that people will not only look for branded products but also what they buy from local shops. To do so, ecommerce companies have to make sure that sellers are available on their platform to cater to the varied needs.
Ecommerce companies are also adding new features to improve consumer experience. For instance, Bukalapak, an Indonesian ecommerce unicorn has partnered with Gojek and Grab to tap into their delivery services. Another tech-enabled express delivery startup in Southeast Asia, Ninja Van has included live tracking of parcels for better visibility and a live chat feature.
The inclusion of social and entertainment components has also helped these companies to further drive user engagement and sales. For instance, Shopee Feed on Shopee app allows users to watch livestream of K-pop concerts and exclusive interviews.
To round up, the pandemic has encouraged irreversible changes in the consumer behavior- a firm move towards ecommerce and digital space that is likely to continue in the post-COVID world.