Size of Southeast Asia (SEA) eCommerce Market & its Potential
Looking to expand your eCommerce reach in a new territory and have stumbled upon Southeast Asia? Then you are on the right track. Here’s why.
Facts of the matter
eCommerce gross merchandise value (GMV) in SEA has grown nearly 80% annually
over the past few years, generating $120 billion in 2021. This growth places the
territory among the world’s top ten highest earners, surpassing China, Brazil, and
India. An annual SEA report by Facebook and Bain & Company predicts that there
will be 380 million SEA online shoppers by 2026. Also, over 70 million consumers in
six SEA countries have bought online since the COVID pandemic.
The Philippines is only behind Indonesia and Malaysia in prospective online retail
sales. Online spending there reached $17 billion last year and is expected to reach
$40 billion by 2025.
Regarding payment options, convenience is critical, with features like Buy Now Pay
Later (BNPL), Cryptos, and e-wallets all gaining traction. The preference leans
towards digital wallets. In the Philippines, digital wallet use grew by 133 percent,
Malaysia at 87 percent, and Vietnam at 82 percent.
What SEA consumers want
According to a survey in The Drum, a global publisher for the marketing industry,
SEA consumers are open to exploring new services and products. Sixty-five percent
were unsure what to purchase when shopping online; 51 percent purchased from
different stores they didn’t know about before.
Another trend is that more people will continue to work from home despite an
improving COVID situation. As such, eCommerce will be increasingly prominent and
likely to be customers’ primary shopping method.
Top SEA Online Marketplaces
Although Southeast Asia is among the quickest-growing eCommerce markets,
leading online retailers like Amazon are still to test the waters. Meanwhile, local
marketers are in the lead. For example, in 2012, Lazada, bought by Alibaba in 2016,
launched its platform in SEA. In addition, fashion retailer Zalora has more than 7
million visitors a month throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, followed
by Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia.
What’s selling most and how?
The top four products to sell online in SEA are fashion, clothing & beauty care, home
décor & furniture, baby products, and electronic goods. There are also specific times
to push certain products. For instance, there is a significant boost in purchases
during online retail sales events. Consumer spending during these sales jumps 56
percent, making them essential for SEA eCommerce businesses. With ongoing
COVID concerns, an InMobi sales season survey shows that 93% of consumers plan
to buy online, and 33% are banking on year-end sales. Priority items include gadgets
(tablets, Smartphones, etc.), home appliances (TVs, fridges, coffee makers, etc.),
and clothing & accessories (shoes, bags, clothes, etc.).
As for ‘how’ best to sell products, the major trends include using live streaming and
social commerce and offering blockchain as a payment option. For multi-platform
sellers, staying ahead of the game means using analytics to make decisions and
In short, SEA presents a significant opportunity for local and international
eCommerce brands. Now is the time to move into this exponentially growing market.