APAC. The place where six in ten people call home. And the region of choice for many retail businesses looking to expand into new markets.
As the planet’s fastest growing internet market, Asian Pacific online shopping trends and behaviors are now helping to transform many areas of eCommerce globally.
While APAC forges ahead, it’s worth examining some of the reasons behind the region’s growth– as well as a few challenges to business success.
Leading the way
The Asia Pacific region is the perfect destination for online retailers looking to gain access to an unprecedented customer base, including China and India, each with over one billion people. What's more, APAC enjoys a number of advantages to help it lead the way for the eCommerce industry.
In 2017, APAC accounted for 40 percent of worldwide eCommerce sales. Much of that was concentrated in those countries with high levels of internet penetration, including China and Australia. In Southeast Asia, eCommerce sales are expected to grow from US$19 billion in 2018 to more than US$53 billion by 2023. Expansion by some of the region’s biggest companies is powering this growth as younger consumers now make online purchases their preferred way to shop.
Across APAC countries, the number of mobile subcriptions now exceeds the population. Prior to making a purchase, shoppers now use mobile as their primary platform to research products, services, and brands. In addition, younger audiences now spend more time on their mobile devices than any other group.
Led by China, digital payments are growing more quickly in the Asia-Pacific region than anywhere else. In fact, over half of the US$3 trillion worldwide digital spend was spent in APAC. By 2022, this percentage is predicted to grow to 70 percent.
That’s due in large part to the influence of WeChat. Developed by Tencent, this multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment app offers consumers in China digital wallets that can be used in a variety of ways - from making payments to sending gifts to friends.
What APAC Challenges Remain
As you can see, online commerce in the Asia Pacific region is set to grow and grow. Yet, there are a couple of potential obstacles to look out for - either of which can limit growth and impact on retail operations.
No internet? No deliveries? No problem
Without the right technology and logistics, it's not easy to offer online shopping and delivery to everyone - especially those living in rural areas. However, that hasn't stopped the eCommerce giants Alibaba. In 2016, they embarked on a three-year plan to take e-commerce into mainland rural China and connect with around 350 million residents. And in 2018, they announced a further 4.5-billion-yuan ($716 million) investment to build a rural ecosystem and eCommerce infrastructure.
Language and Cultural Barriers
A region of more than 23 countries and 14 native languages, APAC is home to a host of cultural and economic differences. A one-size-fits-all approach to eCommerce is therefore not likely to guarantee you much success.
So rather than simply offering translated marketing materials, any content (including images) needs to accurately reflect local traditions and history, as well as be culturally relevant and sensitive.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
APAC is set to be the world’s economic powerhouse through 2030 and beyond, making it the go-to expansion destination for many businesses across many industries. If you’re looking to expand into this region, it pays to know how the boom happened—from the rise in internet connectivity and consumption to the growth of mobile payments. And what potential challenges to overcome in order to win over the hearts and wallets of tech-savvy shoppers in Asia Pacific.
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