Majority of Southeast Asian consumers now shop online

Photo by Brooke Lark

A region wide consumer survey by Lazada in collaboration with Milieu Insight has established that a large number of shoppers (73%) now consider shopping online to be integral to everyday life, with 67% of them identifying eCommerce Mega Campaigns as a key factor in shaping their consumer buying behaviour.

Nearly 60% of consumers also welcomed online shopping as a part of their daily life less than two years ago. 

Low prices, affordable shipping, ease of search and convenience are key reasons why Southeast Asians shop online, with Singapore showing the strongest preference for doorstep delivery .

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The availability of different payment options on eCommerce was also highlighted across markets, with over half of online shoppers preferring to pay cash on delivery.

“Digital commerce has changed the way people shop in the past decade, especially in the last two years with the pandemic accelerating the shift towards online retail. Such changes are showing a lasting effect, especially in emerging markets,” says James Chang, Chief Business Officer, Lazada Group.

“Mega Campaigns still matter to the consumer. They look forward to the deals and shoppertainment features that come with each campaign,”

Evolution of the purchase journey led by digital commerce

“The digitalization of shopping has changed consumer behaviours across different touch points, such as the shorter journey from awareness to purchase, and the limited senses that are engaged via online shopping,”  said Dr Li Xiuping, NUS EMBA-C Deputy Academic Director, Associate Professor of Marketing, National University of Singapore, who was not involved in the survey.

“Thus, it is important for brands and sellers to understand their target consumers, and the new online purchase journey well, in order to give a strong reason to their consumers to purchase and remain competitive.”

Regional Consumer Study Highlights

  • Consumers continue to actively participate during Mega Campaigns such as 11.11, 12.12 sales, with 67% of the digital consumers completing a purchase during a Mega Campaign.
  • Low prices (45%) and affordable shipping (45%) top the list of reasons people are buying online, followed closely by ease of search (43%) and convenience (43%). Singapore (55%), Thailand (48%) and the Philippines (49%) show a strong preference for the items to be delivered straight to them.
  • Reviews and ratings are key to a positive shopping experience, especially for online shoppers in Singapore (61%) and Thailand (66%). Buying authentic products is amongst the top reasons for online shopping in Singapore (54%) and Vietnam (53%) while the variety of payment options available is the top reason for Indonesia (54%). In markets like Singapore (53%) and Malaysia (45%), secure payment options are also a key criteria.
  • Consumers are actively choosing to purchase their items through digital channels, with 65% reporting that when they shop online, they already know what they’re going to buy. To further augment the experience, 29% of respondents report enhanced engagement with the platform through additional browsing for the best deals and exploring the platform for additional items ahead of completing the sale.
  • As we enter recovery phase, the lasting wellness influences of the pandemic looks here to stay with 58% of respondents investing in themselves through spending on Health & Beauty categories. Solidifying that personal wellness is here to stay as consumers relook the approach to well-being and self-care.

The wide product availability and focus of authentic product reviews on the platform has also conditioned shoppers to rely on peer feedback. One in two shoppers (54%) said reviews make the shopping experience positive.

In addition, half (50%) of those surveyed said they leave reviews on the product post purchase, and one in three (32%) said the reviews are one of the top 3 reasons why they prefer to buying online.

The culture of shopper engagement with leaving authentic reviews helps build trust and has a significant influence behind final purchase decision.

Singapore Specific Results

Digital commerce has taken hold as an everyday convenience in Singapore. 70% of respondents consider online shopping as indispensable from their routines, and 96% indicate it is now important that they are able to purchase what they need through digital channels.

  • 46% said online shopping became important to them in the last 2 years (likely due to Covid-19). 85% said they are now spending more online than in stores.
  • Shoppers are looking for a marketplace guided by trusted experience and products that provide a worry-free transaction. This is exemplified in the high preference for reviews(61%), authentic products (54%), secure payment options (53%).
  • Singapore shoppers increasingly value peer ratings and reviews (61%) along with secure payment options (53%) when it comes to platform features. This suggests that trust remains one of the most important considerations when choosing a platform to complete a purchase.

Highlights From Other Countries

  • Markets with more mobile first approaches lead the region with payments via e-wallets, with Malaysian leading with 63% followed by Indonesia (55%) and Philippines (54%).
  • The majority of markets have fully embraced cross border shopping with 79% of respondents in Singapore having no preference for local or global brands, followed by 58% in Thailand and 56% in Malaysia. Shoppers in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines have a preference for local labels, with one in two (52%) Vietnamese respondents showed strong preference for shopping from local labels followed by Philippines (41%) and Indonesia (36%).
  • More than 90% of Thai females ages 16 to 24 surveyed say they are spending more online since the pandemic, and over half of them are willing to wait for a discount.