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How to Be Future Ready: The Transformation of E-commerce Market in Southeast Asia

Paddy Tan, Co-Founder of BlackStorm Consulting and other panellists

  • The event provided insights on the transformation of e-commerce market in Southeast Asia.
  • It covered trends and challenges that are being faced by many e-commerce platforms today.

October 2, 2019: Our Co-Founder, Paddy Tan was honoured to be invited as one of the panel speakers at the [Go Across] AeSA 國際跨域論壇 event held on October 2 2019, Wednesday, organised by Asia e-commerce Startup Alliance (AeSA) and National Development Council. The topic for this event focused on the transformation of e-commerce market in Southeast Asia.

Below is a quick summary of what has been discussed during the event.

The world of e-commerce is changing rapidly. Digital transformation is an inevitable reality that is being faced by many industries and businesses today, but many are experiencing difficulty in surviving in such a competitive and disruptive environment.

The number of digital consumers have been increasing rapidly over the years, this is most likely due to the ease of access to e-commerce platforms which allow anyone from anywhere to buy and sell digitally. We can see more incentives are being offered by players such as Lazada and JD.com with the motive of getting consumers to spend more on the mentioned platforms. With rising spending power and growing urbanisation in Southeast Asia, there is untapped potential in a huge consumer market. Consumers residing from any part of Southeast Asia are now allowed to access variety of products that are not available in their home country.

While digital transformation might seem enticing and exciting for growth opportunities, there are also some challenges that businesses might face during the development of e-commerce in one’s country. For example, Singapore is a small country with high consumer buying power. If players have the intention to expand in Singapore, here are a few areas that one should look at: (1) logistic, (2) hiring, (3) existing players, and (4) online payment.

  • Logistic: Reducing logistic costs is often the number one priority for businesses. Try to maintain a low cost for transferring a product from point A to point B.
  • Hiring: The cost of hiring is not cheap in Singapore and it may not be cost effective to sellers if there is no volume in the market.
  • Existing Players: New entrants will have difficulty in pulling potential consumers over to their platform as it is mostly dominated by Amazon, E-bay, Apple, and other popular e-commerce platforms that are visited often by Singaporeans such as Taobao, Qoo10, Lazada, Zalora, Carousell, Redmart, Reebonz, Hipvan and Alibaba.
  • Online Payment: As majority of the Singaporeans have become more comfortable with internet and mobile payment methods, are expecting and demanding a seamless e-commerce transaction experience. This will eventually affect your online sales. Thus, if you are interested in entering into the e-commerce space in Singapore, the most important consideration is to choose the best payment option that is quick and simple for the consumers to adopt.

Paddy was sharing his insights on digital disruption and digital transformation in the e-commerce space

There are a few factors that fuelled the growth of e-commerce such as choices being offered, mobile e-commerce, digital marketing, special occasions, and social. Paddy shared that many consumers prefer to have various options to pick from when it comes to purchasing an item – more designs and models to pick from compared to products with limited options. Paddy also mentioned that the followings tend to boost sales when managing e-commerce:

  • Encompasses some effective digital marketing such as promotions, discounts or free delivery
  • Having promotion or sales on holiday seasons
  • Spread and share its platform on different social media platforms

Paddy also gave some insights on the transformation of consumer behaviors such as what do consumers spend the most money on and whether influencers from various social media platforms have become a trend in influencing consumers to shop through social media platforms. He highlighted that electronics devices have been the top browsed and purchased category on e-commerce platforms.

Whether retail is there or not, consumers have become hooked on the seamless, real-time, personalised world of the modern digital landscape, and they expect the rest of the providers to follow suit. Paddy foresees that the e-commerce market will most likely dominated by smart phone users as many consumers consult their phones in the store while deciding what to purchase. He also mentioned that adoption of digital wallets will be more integrated fully with other services. And this will become as easy as buying things without the need to check out in the physical world.In summary, no matter which country you intend to go in with your e-commerce platform, do so with the intent of providing a seamless and engaging shopping experience for your customers. It is important to first know who your customer is: understand their questions, needs, and concerns to best market and cater to them.

About BlackStorm Consulting

BlackStorm Consulting (http://blackstormco.asia/) is a boutique growth consultancy firm that specialises in corporate strategy, profit management and investment management. We mainly serve clients in four sectors: FinTech, Gaming, Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT), and manufacturing.

Our clients and connections are internationally present and range from small and medium sized businesses, MNCs, to government agencies.

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