In today’s rapidly growing e-commerce world, mobile applications play an important role. Based on a report by Google and Temasek, there are more than 350 million internet users in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesian, Thailand and Vietnam.
More importantly, more than 90% of Southeast Asians connect to the internet mainly through their mobile devices, and this figure is expected to rise as smartphones become more accessible and the rapid improvements of faster and more reliable mobile telecommunication services.
On top of that, the same report by Google and Temasek noted that the internet economy will significantly grow to become a S$328 billion (US$240 billion) industry with e-commerce as the main component and is predicted to garner as much as S$140 billion (US$102 billion) by year 2025.
As such, e-commerce aggregator iPrice Group and app analytics firm App Annie joined hand to conduct the map of e-commerce market survey to find out which companies are ruling the industry for the Southeast Asia (SEA) market.
According to the survey, Lazada’s mobile shopping application was declared to have the highest average Monthly Active Users (MAU) in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
This is possible because the company has put significant focus in the development of its application to engage tech-savvy consumers and was constantly evolving their habits. Some of the features that they introduced was an in-app live-streaming function and Image Search Feature – which Lazada said to have resulted 500,000 customers using it daily to find over 20 million products – and the “Shake it” in-app game.
On the other hand, Shopee also performed quite well where it is ranked the highest in Vietnam, second place in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, while scoring third in Singapore.
In the past year, Shopee focused on ‘hyper-localised’ users experience approach by having a different app for each country, which was part of their strategy to concentrate on taking a highly localised approach to each market. This has proven to be effective as Shopee stays as one of the youngest players in the industry, quickly rising through the positions since its formation in 2015.
However, in Singapore, local e-commerce app Qoo10 placed second in the country, beating Shopee.
Another prominent competitor is Tokopedia who ranks highest in average MAU in Indonesia. Tokopedia remains a prominent player as the company currently holds the biggest market share in SEA’s largest country in terms of population.
Mobile websites vs Desktops
Even though mobile apps are deemed as an important aspect of e-commerce, e-commerce websites remain relevant to consumers as well. A study on the State of E-commerce in Southeast Asia noted that consumers were more likely to conduct purchases via desktops as compared to mobile.
As for the top performer, Shopee takes the title as the most visited e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia with a total average of 184.4 million visits on desktop and mobile web as of Q1 2019.
However, Lazada saw a 12 percent decline in total average visits when compared to the previous quarter, obtaining 179.7 million visitors in Q1 2019. Tokopedia (Indonesia), Bukalapak (Indonesia) and Tiki (Vietnam) were the 3rd,4th and 5th most visited e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia respectively although they were only available in a single market.
Chinese & American-based e-commerce apps perform well in Southeast Asia
Across the six countries analysed, Chinese and American e-commerce mobile apps are still popular and were widely used in the region with apps such as AliExpress, Amazon, eBay, TaoBao and Alibaba.com.
Chinese e-commerce apps such as TaoBao performed well in countries where there were more consumers proficient in the Chinese language (Mandarin). This was evident in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia where the app ranked fourth and third respectively. TaoBao is available primarily in the Chinese language and provides delivery services to SEA as well.
On the other hand, AliExpress was optimised for non-Chinese proficient consumers and was actively used in Thailand (third place), Philippines (fifth place), Malaysia (fifth place), Vietnam (sixth place), and Indonesia (eighth place).
As for American-based e-commerce apps, they are still highly relevant to this region. In SEA, Amazon officially launched its services in Singapore in 2017 with Amazon Prime Now and currently ranks ninth place in the list of monthly actively used mobile shopping apps in the city-state. In other countries, Amazon remains as a prominent e-commerce app in Thailand and Vietnam, ranking fifth and seventh place respectively.