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World-Wide eCommerce Trends: Asia Pacific Ranks Fastest Growing Region

While the ecommerce market in the U.S. is now considered to be a mature segment of the retail industry, In Asia Pacific the expansion of this space remains in its early stages. eCommerce in USA still continues to outpace traditional brick and mortar retail. However in Asia Pacific the growth in eCommerce is staggering. However, unlike traditional beliefs that Asian consumers are averse to shopping online a report released in 2010 on Global Trends in Online Shopping revealed that only 13% of Internet users in Asia Pacific had never shopped online which was lower than the global average where 16% of users had never shopped online. This forecasts the ecommerce in Asia Pacific will continue to grow fast and only may become one of the largest markets world-wide. The report surveyed over 27,000 internet users in the world.

  • The China Internet Network Information Center said the number of internet users in the world’s most populous country jumped 28.9% in 2009 to 384 million, which is more than the entire population of the U.S.
  • According to this article on CNBC , “Sales done online nationwide in China have doubled to almost $80 billion in 2010, according to iResearch data, compared to total retail sales, which have grown nearly 20 percent per year in the last five years.”

While this spending burst could be a result of many things, experts say shoppers in Asia Pacific are fast-becoming comfortable with the ease of mobile e-commerce, compared to their Western counterparts. In addition to their web savvy ways, their economy is experiencing a consumption boom which should last for many years. Users in Asia Pacific are more likely to do a purchase using the mobile phone than users in North America.

Here are some key trends we’ve discovered by reviewing all the surveys including the Nielsen one referred to above and others from ComScore and Forrester Research:

  • What they are buying: Outside of travel, Items that Asia Pacific shoppers like to buy online are books, clothing/accessories/shoes, cosmetics, videos/DVDs/games, and groceries in that order.
  • Where within Asia Pacific are they buying: Total online spending as a percentage of total monthly spending varies by country with Chinese and Korean online consumers allocating the most via the web than any other in the region. Online consumers in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong allocate the least.
  • Who is buying: The developed countries in Asia Pacific such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan follow the same online gender profiling as North America where women dominate men in the traffic to online stores. Less developed countries like India, Vietnam and Philippines have men more dominant in visits to online retail stores.

World-Wide eCommerce Trends: Asia Pacific Ranks Fastest Growing Region

So with this information, how can you begin marketing to the Asia Pacific part of the world through your ecommerce site ? How can you get their attention and keep it? Here are some tips on what you can do to build out your Asia Pacific ecommerce store.

  1. Offer diversity in your online product catalog: The #1 reason shoppers in Asia Pacific go online is when they cannot find products in the store or for diversity. This is very different than the North America buyer where price is often a very significant reason to shop online. So you don’t need to be the cheapest price in town if your store can bring significant diversity. The more products you can offer the higher your chances of success will be in this market. Those testing the market with a very narrow catalog may find that they are setting themselves for failure.
  2. Stay simple: While a broad catalog is desired, the store should be simple, easy to navigate and not overly complex. Most online retailers in Asia Pacific make the mistake of throwing a lot of flash and a dizzying array of colors. A busy look and feel is the most common and the least successful. Go for the clean and simple look and feel with a powerful offering.
  3. Reviews: Online product reviews are more important than in North America. The strong social connection in Asia pacific means that consumers will like to read and research a lot more before they buy. Reviews (both negative and positive) will help increase the conversion on your store. Don’t sanitize your reviews
  4. Promotions: The least used and yet most successful promotion in Asia Pacific is Free shipping. While it is hard to make shipping cost-effective in the region – if you can make that your strength. How do you make shipping pay for itself – tie the free shopping offer to a minimum order size e.g. the equivalent of $50. That will drive up your order size and the difference will pay for the shipping. The free shipping in itself will increase conversion significantly. Shoppers in Asia Pacific are very sensitive to shipping cost.
  5. Mobile: The web should be your #1 priority. However the mobile experience should be a close second. Users in Asia are much more comfortable with the cell phone than consumers in North America. Take advantage of this and put in place a mobile offering much sooner than when you’d do it in North America.

Email us at ecommerce@ignify.com for more tips.

Pankaj Kumar is the Chief Technology Officer at Ignify. Ignify eCommerce is the only PCI certified eCommerce solution in the market that is available in the Asia Pacific region. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for four years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. Ignify was ranked in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011 – this list represents the top businesses world-wide with disruptive and innovative technology.

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