Shoppers in Southeast Asia buy offline more often than they buy online. Source: Shutterstock

Shoppers in Southeast Asia buy offline more often than they buy online. Source: Shutterstock

Forrester’s insights help better understand shoppers in Southeast Asia

RETAIL and e-commerce giants that want to make the most of the opportunity in Southeast Asia need to understand the needs and wants of shoppers in the region.

Forrester recently published an infographic that provides interesting insights — for example — it pointed out that more than 294 million adults in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are online in 2019 and that 56 percent of them, 164 million, shop online.

Despite the exciting statistic, the reality is that consumers in Southeast Asia shop offline more frequently than online.

“But no matter where they shop, their shopping journeys are connected throughout online and offline,” explained Forrester Senior Analyst Xiaofeng Wang in a recent blog post.

“For example, 32 percent of consumers in Singapore always research online before purchasing offline, and 25 percent of them always research offline before purchasing online.”

As a result, retail and e-commerce marketers need to ensure that their online presence, be it online ads, YouTube videos, landing pages, product reviews, mobile apps and websites, and support messenger applications on Facebook and other platforms, are all on-point and clear.

According to Forrester, mobile is the main channel that consumers in Southeast Asia use to shop online and expect that 62 percent of online retail sales in Southeast Asia will come from mobile in 2019, with Indonesia and Thailand leading the way.

“Mobile also plays an important role when consumers shop offline.”

“They frequently research products and services on mobile phones while shopping in a physical store, including comparing prices, looking up product info, reading customer reviews, scanning QR codes to get additional information, and searching for coupons.”

Wang points out that consumers in Southeast Asia use social networks and online social tools to talk or post about products and services and read detailed reviews posted online more frequently than they read message boards or forums hosted by the company or read blog posts by a company offering a product or service.

Retailers should, therefore, work on encouraging consumers to post detailed reviews and entice the creation of other user-generated content on social media to influence purchase decisions.

In 2020, businesses that want to succeed in Southeast Asia’s competitive retail space must invest in creating consistent experiences across channels and platforms.

“Early adopters are implementing omnichannel retail and digital store initiatives with mobile as the centerpiece, such as using mobile phones to check inventory across all stores and location-based in-store engagement.”

For retailers, the journey to digital might seem complicated and challenging but creating the perfect mix of digital and physical presence will delight customers and boost sales.