Is India the next destination for Shopee?

Is India the next destination for Shopee? Source: Shopee

Is India the next destination for Shopee?

  • Shopee have been dipping its toes into the Indian market since last month with a recruitment campaign launched for sellers to sell on “Shopee India”
  • Shopee has yet to make any official announcement on its entry into the market, but online postings shows that the company is also actively hiring.

Last month, reports were circulating on the launch of a recruitment campaign for sellers to sell on “Shopee India”. It was an indication that the Southeast Asian e-commerce giant is preparing to launch in another international market, shortly after expanding to several Latin American nations.

A Reuters report stated that the Singapore-headquartered Sea Ltd’s Shopee had launched a recruitment campaign for vendors to sell on what it called “Shopee India” and is ramping up hiring in the country. The report was based on Youtube videos and job postings. Besides the video and job postings, there were no other official announcements made by Shopee.

The video that was posted in August this year, describes that “Shopee is coming to India!”, and it promises free shipping and no commission fees for sellers and buyers. It was also linked to a recruitment form for sellers.

“A company source said the company was cautiously preparing to expand operations in India, with no finalized launch date yet. While Sea has a team in India, it does not currently offer e-commerce services in the country,” Reuters further added. To top it off, a slew of India job ads were also posted in recent weeks for positions ranging from seller operations to compliance.

There is however no localized app or website available till date.

What would a ‘Shopee India’ mean to the Indian e-commerce market?

At this juncture, the India Brand Equity Foundation data shows that the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to US$111.40 billion by 2025 from US$46.2 billion in 2020. As many would have anticipated, much of the growth for the industry has been triggered by an increase in internet and smartphone penetration.

For context, as of April 2021, the number of internet connections in India significantly increased to 782.86 million, out of which, 61% connections were in urban areas. With a turnover of US$50 billion in 2020, India also became the eighth-largest market for e-commerce, trailing France and a position ahead of Canada.

Hence, to strive in India, Shopee will not only have to compete with Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart, but incoming competition from local heavyweights such as Reliance Industries and Tata Group is to be considered as well. Both Reliance and Tata are looking into penetrating the local e-commerce market through JioMart and Tata Digital, respectively.

Then, there are also infrastructure challenges to be considered which could affect transportation and logistics for Shopee. Reaching out to the rural market that has low mobile and internet penetration, would also be a daunting task. 

In Shopee’s perspective however, the Indian market remains as a huge and an untapped market. As of now, the US$172 billion Southeast Asian group has already found success in India with its game Free Fire, which it describes as the highest-grossing mobile game in the country.