Southeast Asia’s Ecommerce Surge is Creating New Opportunities for Retailers

A new guidebook from Meltwater identifies the region’s hottest online shopping trends — from live streaming to mega-sales — and how brands can leverage these for growth

The Covid-19 pandemic sped up Southeast Asians’ embrace of e-commerce in surprising—and permanent ways.

Insights from media intelligence firm Meltwater show that online conversations around e-commerce in Southeast Asia have already crossed the 1 million mark in 2021—and the year’s not even over yet. As more customers flocked to the convenience of online shopping amidst lockdowns and restrictions, so did retailers. Leading e-commerce platform Shopee reported a 60% year-on-year uplift in the number of active sellers on the platform since the start of the pandemic.

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A new guidebook from Meltwater titled ‘Unlocking E-Commerce Success in Southeast Asia’ studied online conversations across the region to identify emerging trends and opportunities in the ecommerce landscape in the lead up to the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Meltwater found that mega-sales events like Singles’ Day and 9.9 are as popular as ever among Southeast Asia’s value-seeking consumers, with more than half a million online conversations surrounding the topic.

One trending theme that emerged was the merging of entertainment with shopping experience, with nearly one in every five conversations revolving around K-pop partnerships by leading e-commerce platforms.

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Beyond discounts and entertainment, pandemic-riddled consumers are also drawn to immersive shopping experiences, as conversations around live streaming jumped more than twice (213%) this year. Shopee’s data corroborated this finding, reporting a 2.5 times increase in annual live stream viewership on its platform.

Mimrah Mahmood, Senior Director & Partner at Meltwater Asia Pacific, said: “Online shopping has become a natural way of life for Southeast Asian consumers now, but fatigue from the pandemic is causing them to seek out more engagement and novelty in their purchase journey. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for retailers — and the key to success is to stay ahead of these trends to continue engaging and attracting shoppers.”