Latest Rakuten Marketing Research Reveals Confidence in e-Commerce on the Rise Across APAC

Rakuten Marketing launched the second edition of their ‘APAC State of e-Commerce’ report, revealing some surprising insights into the region’s online purchasing habits.

The report delves into the online shopping behaviours and preferences of 500 consumers in each of the nine key markets within APAC – China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand. This is the second year the report has been conducted with results from Japan and Indian markets added in 2019.

Findings reveal that China leads the APAC e-Commerce market with an impressive 61% of consumers shopping online whilst New Zealand and Japan are the smallest markets, lagging significantly behind at 33% and 34% respectively.

Of those shopping online in APAC, transactions are primarily taking place on mobile, averaging 21% usage across the region driven primarily by China (32%) and India (29%). Desktop or laptop usage follows closely behind at 19%, and tablet usage only accounts for an average of 6% of total APAC e-Commerce transactions.

High shipping costs were found to be the key contributor holding consumers back from online shopping in most APAC countries – particularly Japan (62%), New Zealand (50%), Malaysia (57%) and Singapore (57%). Two outliers were identified; South Korea and China, where ability to return items is the largest prohibitor (39% and 49% respectively).

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Consumers in all countries identified price point as the number one factor encouraging online eCommerce spending (averaging 80.9% across APAC). The second most important driver was found to be the range of products available (averaging 65% across the region). Hong Kong consumers were the one exception, placing local payment options as the second most important determinant.

The research also covered consumer spending habits across e-Commerce verticals. The majority of online purchases in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong was found to be on travel and the number one e-Commerce purchase in South Korea, China and Japan is on groceries. Contrary to the rest of the region, Malaysians spend the most on beauty and Indians on electronics.

Of particular interest to marketers, search remains the most popular way of discovering new brands throughout the majority of APAC. China was the major exception to this, where family and friend recommendations scored the highest (68%) and search was in fact the least popular method of discovery. Of notable interest, Malaysia was found to be the number one country in APAC to engage influencer marketing (21%) and social media (65%) for discovery.

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Once connected with a brand, consumers indicated that they engage with brands predominantly through Facebook in Australia (28.5%), Singapore (33%), Malaysia (61%) and India (56%) whereas email reigned in Japan (26%) and New Zealand (35%). Local apps such as WeChat, Weibo and Kakao Talk were found to be the most popular way of interacting with brands in China, Hong Kong and Korea.

Commenting on the research findings, Managing Director of International at Rakuten Marketing, Anthony Capano said: “eMarketer is forecasting global e-commerce to exceed $3.5 trillion by the end of the year, and of this, the Asia-Pacific region will drive 64% of all retail sales. The APAC market presents a wealth of opportunities for brands and retailers looking to enter the region.

“The findings of this report will assist brands and marketers in developing a deeper understanding of the nuanced behaviours of consumers within APAC and help identify new opportunities. We hope this report helps businesses make more informed decisions on how to best grow and operate within the region.”

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