APAC retail struggling with e-commerce

Eden Estopace
24 May 2013

By the end of 2013, e-commerce in the Asia-Pacific expected to overtake North America as the region with the world’s highest B2C e-commerce revenues, according to yStats Research.

Asia Pacific Digital, however, sees brands and retailers facing a high level of complexity and many barriers to success when establishing B2C e-commerce offerings in the region.

“In e-commerce, speed to market is everything,” said Roger Sharp, Chairman of Asia Pacific Digital. “While selling B2C presents an enormous opportunity for brands and retailers, the diversity of our region, combined with a highly fragmented service provider ecosystem, makes it very difficult to get an e-commerce offering to market quickly."

Retailers and brands, he added, are finding that when they eventually get to market, someone has already beaten them to the draw. Competition is no longer local, it’s global.

Sean Toohey, Group Head of e-commerce for Asia Pacific Digital, said retailers and brands take up to 12 to 18 months to launch online platforms, with no clear roadmap for revenue.

A daunting challenge facing retailers and brands from operating in the region is how to segment and enter the regional markets.

“Given that Asia-Pacific is not a single region but 13 or 14 vastly different marketplaces, brands need to develop a detailed understanding and look at developing a unifying online presence catering to different infrastructure hurdles, digital adoption barriers, stages of economic development, opaque points of market entry, language and cultural barriers, and so on, in each market,” he suggested.

In a recent study by yStats2, Asian e-commerce sales are projected to account for over a third of global B2C e-commerce revenues in 2013. In Singapore, there has been an explosion in the demand for digital goods, with revenues for the Singaporean online commerce market forecast to reach SGD4.4 billion (USD3.4 billion) by 2015.

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