Some people tend to look at Southeast Asia as a slow-growing region. However, Southeast Asia’s e-commerce is projected to increase by 20.6% in 2022, showing the highest increase worldwide, according to eMarketer data. Establishing an e-commerce business selling to consumers in Southeast Asia would be a good idea. But first, you need to know more about the state of e-commerce in the region and its countries.
In 2015, Southeast Asia’s e-commerce only had $5.5 billion in sales. That grew to $37.22 billion in sales by 2019. By 2022, total e-commerce sales are projected to reach $89.67 billion. By 2023, the region is expected to have more than $100 billion in sales. That is indeed stratospheric growth. It presents a vast opportunity for businesses looking to set up shop in this region.
E-Commerce in Southeast Asian Countries
Eleven countries comprise Southeast Asia — Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Timor-Leste, and Cambodia. With a population of over 680 million people and an ever-growing middle class, opportunities abound for those willing to venture into this exciting region.
Of the top 10 countries worldwide according to e-commerce retail sales growth, five are from Southeast Asia. The Philippines tops the list with an increase of 25.9%. Indonesia is in third place with 23%. Both the Philippines and Indonesia showed growth rates higher than the regional score.
Vietnam is fifth at 19%. Malaysia is seventh at 18.3%. Thailand ranks eighth at 18%. Meanwhile, the U.S. ranks tenth with a growth of 15.9%.
E-Commerce in the Philippines
Based on 2021 e-commerce trends, the top sellers in the Philippines are home gym equipment, skincare, fashion, and beauty products.
Among home gym equipment, dumbbells are top sellers. Also popular are weight racks, mats, and other related products.
Among skin care products, anti-aging formulations are bestsellers. Skincare products for men are also gaining popularity. That shows that Filipino men today are more active in caring for their skin.
The Southeast Asia Trend report of Zalora states that 87% of fashion sales are from buyers in suburban and central areas of the country. Meanwhile, buyers from the southern part of the country showed the most support for Korean-inspired fashion compared to other countries.
One of the benefits of shopping online is that it opens up a whole world of products that might not be available locally. For example, many e-commerce retailers in the Philippines source their products from Hong Kong. These items are shipped by sea cargo from Hong Kong to the Philippines, making them more affordable for Filipino shoppers. The journey by sea can take up to two weeks, but it is generally a reliable and cost-effective way to ship goods.
Hong Kong is known for its wide selection of quality products. It’s no wonder that so many e-commerce retailers choose to source their merchandise from there. For many Filipinos, shopping online for products from Hong Kong is a convenient and affordable way to get the items they need.
E-commerce businesses from other parts of the world may want to sell to Filipino consumers. However, if their products become more expensive than those shipped from Hong Kong, they may have difficulty selling. If they are farther, one option would be to also source their products from Hong Kong and have the supplier ship every order.
E-Commerce in Indonesia
Based on 2021 e-commerce trends data, Indonesia has 44 million e-commerce customers, and this market is doubling yearly. The top sellers are health supplements, electronic devices, and products for mothers and babies.
The bestselling health supplements are multivitamins, Omega-3 fish oil, probiotics, and ginseng. The demand continues to grow as Covid-19 still creates a severe health crisis.
Among electronic devices, smartphones and gadgets are projected to sell widely this year. Gen Z and Gen Y comprise 70% of buyers. They are attracted to videos on social media, so sellers will find it effective to market their products that way.
Products for mothers and babies are popular because the country’s birth rate is high, making it one of the most populous in the region. According to a survey, 66% of consumers would rather buy products for mothers and babies online, and 57% do so monthly.
E-Commerce in Malaysia
Data from 2021 e-commerce trends show that by 2025, online sales in Malaysia can total $13 billion. The projected bestsellers are travel accessories, electronic devices, home appliances, fashion, beauty and skincare products, and personal care products.
Malaysians love to travel, but the Covid-19 pandemic prevented them from doing so these past years. The demand for travel accessories is expected to increase once more people get fully vaccinated and start traveling again.
The demand for home appliances and smartphones was also pandemic-driven as people had no choice but to stay home. These became necessities in daily living.
The products most searched online are fashion, beauty, and skincare items, with skincare getting top ratings. Masks have become pandemic staples. Personal care products are also projected to have high sales, with 80% choosing to buy international brands.
Sell Online to Southeast Asia
It can be lucrative for businesses to sell online to consumers in Southeast Asia. The region is home to millions of consumers who are eager to buy products worldwide. If you’re looking for new markets to expand into, selling online to Southeast Asia should be at the top of your list.
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