Data Center

The E-commerce Landscape in East Asia

About Documents

In the current era, E-commerce has become a crucial channel for entrepreneurs to enter the market, as consumer purchasing behavior has shifted. Despite economic slowdowns, E-commerce offers opportunities and flexibility for businesses amidst the changing international economic and social landscape.

However, the continuously evolving and dynamic competitive environment of the e-commerce market creates both opportunities and challenges for businesses. Significant barriers still exist, hindering participation in the e-commerce market, particularly for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Addressing these obstacles requires comprehensive approaches and information to understand the overall landscape of e-commerce and its stakeholders. UNESCAP has developed a report on the e-commerce market landscape in East Asia, utilizing data from the Asia Marketplace Explorer (AME) to assess e-commerce in East Asian countries. This report provides several interesting insights.

In the East Asia region, there are a total of 1,159 online marketplaces in the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector. The distribution varies significantly across countries. Viet Nam has the highest number of marketplaces, totaling 219, while Laos has the lowest, with 53. The number of users in B2C e-commerce markets in East Asia has been steadily increasing. Between 2019 and 2022, the user growth rate was 12%.

Countries with the highest increase in users include the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Viet Nam, and Singapore. In contrast, Brunei Darussalam and South Korea have relatively stable user numbers. Meanwhile, Laos, Mongolia, and Cambodia have seen a decline in users. Factors influencing the volume of service usage include population size, per capita income, and the rate of economic growth.

When considering different types of e-commerce, websites are the most prominent market, accounting for 47.2% of all e-commerce channels and capturing 82.4% of user traffic. In contrast, social media commerce accounts for 43.5% of all e-commerce channels but only 11.5% of the total user traffic.

Countries that utilize social media the most for buying and selling goods include the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. In contrast, countries that prefer using websites for commerce include Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The e-commerce market is predominantly dominated by transnational companies, with Indonesia being the only country where a local website holds the top market position. In East Asia, Asian-owned websites dominate 54% of the market, with Shopee and Lazada leading in market share. North American websites hold 27% of the market.

The report indicates that the growth of transnational websites creates barriers to market entry for products from SMEs. Therefore, governments should promote the growth of national websites by developing local platforms that sell products with growth potential and low competition. These products include children’s products, cars, motorcycles and parts, electrical/IT appliances, household items, and consumer goods.

Products with high competition, such as fashion, jewelry, and shoes, as well as beauty and health products, should be avoided. Additionally, the government should focus on improving domestic supply chains and transportation systems, providing financial support for hiring foreign experts, developing payment systems, and enforcing laws that support electronic transactions.

Ms. Namphueng Tassanaipitukkul
Senior Researcher
International Institute for Trade and Development (Public Organization)
Publication: Bangkok BIZ Newspaper
Section: First Section/World Beat
Volume: 37 Issue:12671
Date: Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2024
Page: 8 (bottom)
Column: “Asean Insight”

Related Research