E-commerce has great potential to prosper in Vietnam given a rising young population and easy Internet accessibility, a trend which is also taking place in many areas of Asia, according to a recent report and the ideas shared by experts at a conference on e-commerce last week.
Online shopping has overtaken bricks-and-mortar retail as the most popular method of purchase in certain Asian markets, according to the “Asia Pacific Consumer Survey – How We Like to Shop Online” report, conducted for the second year in a row by U.S.-based realty service firm CBRE.
Consumers aged 18-24 are also set to play an influential role in the regional retail market in the coming years, said the report, released on July 8.
Whilst 50 percent of Asia Pacific consumers still physically visit a shop to make a purchase, findings show that in emerging markets such as China and India, the majority of respondents – 76 percent and 68 percent, respectively – utilize online shopping as their most commonly used method of making purchases, according to the report .
This is also the case in the more developed markets of South Korea and Taiwan, where 73 percent and 55 percent of consumers, respectively, also said their primary method of making purchases is online.
Along with convenience, pricing ranks as one of the top reasons why consumers shop online – 63 percent of the total number of respondents surveyed identified this as their key deciding factor.
These correspond to the same deciding factors when shopping at physical stores.
The ability to compare products without having to physically visit individual stores is another key factor for the region’s consumers when shopping online.
This trend is more prominent in emerging markets such as Vietnam (64 percent), China (61 percent) and India (58 percent), where quality shopping centers or shops are often located far from each other, Joel Stephen, senior director, head of retailer representation, CBRE Asia, said in the report.
The trend was also confirmed by Taiwanese experts at a conference held in Ho Chi Minh City on July 7.
Jemie Lin, co-founder of AppWorks Ventures, said the Vietnamese market has great potential for a boom in e-commerce given its demographics and Internet coverage.
Though having a population of nearly 90 million, of which over 35 percent, or around 31 million, have Internet accessibility, e-commerce sales made up only 0.1 percent of total retail sales, worth around $80 billion, as of 2014, he said at the “A Brand New Digital Economy” conference.
The rates were higher in other Southeast Asian markets like Singapore (1 percent), the Philippines (0.3 percent), Thailand and Malaysia (0.2 percent), he added.
As of January 2015, the average number of hours spent on the Internet per day in Vietnam reached 5.2 hours and 2.7 hours via PCs and smartphones, respectively, a high rate in the region, just below Thailand and the Philippines, said Steven Ho, representative of 91mai App Inc.
E-commerce is the future, and Asia will be at the heart of the global e-commerce network considering its role in both manufacturing and consumption, said Vicky Tseng, COO of PChome eBay Co. Ltd.
The increase of the well-educated population ensures its capacity in both manufacturing almost every kind of goods for the masses and consuming the other kinds of products with much higher value-added from the two other blocs, the EU and the U.S., she said.
The establishment of new trade routes, both on land and at sea, which all pass through Asia from the Europe and the U.S., will also help realize the trend, Tseng said.