Market Data

What You Need to Know About Southeast Asia’s Growing M-Commerce Landscape

Donny Kristianto

From sales events to hyper-localization, what does it take to succeed in a mobile-first retail market?

Once considered a nice-to-have, mobile commerce (m-commerce) has grown to become the linchpin to the future of retail. In 2018, global shopping app sessions — akin to foot traffic — grew 65% from 2016, as new and incumbent players continued to expand their market reach. In Southeast Asia, where over 90% of users access the internet primarily through mobile devices, consumers spent close to 3 billion hours in shopping apps last year alone — more than double the time spent in 2016. The message is clear: in Southeast Asia, having a well-designed mobile strategy is the most critical step in creating a successful shopping user journey.

In order to better understand this highly dynamic region, we recently partnered with iPrice to map out the key e-commerce players who have a profound presence on mobile, and the analysis revealed a robust landscape where both international and local platforms increased their momentum to convert mobile users to customers across the region.


Mobile-Fueled Sales Events Forge New Shopping Habits in Southeast Asia

Across the world, sales events provide shopping platforms a unique opportunity to stand out among competitors at any time of the year. In Southeast Asia, largely inspired by the success of November 11th’s immensely popular Single’s Day, similar shopping event spikes can be observed on corresponding month and day dates, such as September 9th and December 12th, across all of the markets in the region. In Indonesia, seasonal campaigns are held during Ramadan to provide contextually relevant customer experiences, and it's not just by one retailer, like in the case of Prime Day — it's dedicated shopping days that most mobile-savvy retailers get behind.

“ The message is clear: in Southeast Asia, having a well-designed mobile strategy is the most critical step in creating a successful shopping user journey.”

It is clear that shoppers are turning to mobile to access these flash sales events, with most markets in SEA seeing lifts in total weekly sessions. Each session represents an opportunity to purchase. M-commerce platforms participating in these events throughout the region enhance their mobile apps during these high-traffic sales, ranging from subtle tweaks to app icons marking the dates of sales events, to more comprehensive mobile-focused features such as gesture based mini-games with daily prizes, to celebrity-fueled social affiliate program, an innovative feature that allows anyone to recommend their favorite products and generate profits from it.

Mobile shopping apps offer conversion rates 3x mobile web and 2x desktop for US retailers. We expect this trend to hold, if not be greater in Southeast Asia. M-commerce platforms who optimize their mobile user experience by leveraging features that draw on the inherent advantages of mobile — such as personalized offers, loyalty programs, mobile payment integrations and advanced customer support — will be able to capitalize on these timely opportunities by improving the shopping experience and driving conversions. Having a comprehensive view of mobile performance will be crucial in deciding where to prioritize your efforts and how to plan your campaigns to delight customers.

We will keep a close watch on mobile shopping developments in Southeast Asia, as both the competition among major platforms and engagement level through seasonal events continue to expand. We expect to see this sector not only continue to grow in 2019 but to be a key pillar of mobile growth in the region.

For more on the State of Mobile Retail in 2019, check out our latest report:

Download Retail Mini Report

May 20, 2019

Market Data

Related blog posts