Rapid digitalisation and growing instability in the global marketplace accelerated the adoption of e-commerce across APAC. Explore the future of B2C businesses as Hive Life spotlights essential e-commerce trends and their role in transforming the retail space.
In the wake of the pandemic, the e-commerce industry witnessed an unprecedented acceleration globally, which came in response to shifting world dynamics, particularly to the business-to-consumer (B2C) model. Recent research by Morgan Stanley reports on the dramatic rise of e-commerce trends, as total retail sales increased from 15% in 2019, to 21% in 2021, with an estimated valuation of 22% this year.
Growing exponentially amidst Covid-19 lockdowns and prolonged periods of isolation, further opportunities for the industry’s expansion were laid out, with digital screens becoming a new normal for consumers to navigate. While many other services and trades were put to a halt, the digital industry remained one of the few to speed up its upward trajectory.
According to Statista’s E-commerce in the Asia-Pacific region – Statistics & Facts 2021, it stated that “the e-commerce in Asia-Pacific regions comprised up to half of the total retail sales in 2020, leading amongst other regions, including North America and Europe following with 20% and 16%, respectively,” emphasising the region’s thriving e-commerce landscape, while placing it at the forefront of new digital evolution.
Not only has the digital marketplace proven to be effective, but it has also managed to divert the attention of consumers from physical brick-and-mortars with its efficient and quick distribution means, penetration of niche markets, and not to mention competitive price points. Furthermore, increased transparency, authenticity, and ease of access to the information within the network, have made the space more viable than ever, as customers grow increasingly aware and eco-conscious.
The e-commerce marketplace continues to make leaps and bounds in the business-to-business (B2B) retail space, thus making it essential for businesses to evolve with the changing times. Get acquainted with the key e-commerce trends to maintain your edge over the competitive industry in APAC with Hive Life’s guide.
1. Digital Payments
Contactless payment transactions gained momentum in APAC amidst the pandemic, with the digital payments market expanding at a significant rate of up to 30% a year. The e-commerce industry was quick to adopt and develop an omnipresent payment channel, simplifying and easing the checkout process, via systems such as digital wallets, and well-known platforms including Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Single-click payment options work in conjunction with online platforms to offer customers the flexibility to select their preferred methods, whether through an international credit card service or a local banking alternative. In APAC, cards and digital wallets are listed as the top choices for payment transactions, given the significant role ease and accessibility play in a seamless online shopping experience.
Singapore-based 2C2P provides payment support for merchants by offering their customers their preferred payment choices, as well as simplifying complicated transactions between the two parties, both domestically and internationally.
Without a doubt, digital payments are the new frontier of the e-commerce space and are essential for businesses to expand and evaluate their options depending on their market scale and regional operations.
2. Virtual and Augmented Reality
While APAC is no stranger to the metaverse renaissance, it is still in its nascent stages; although many have traversed the virtual realm, the e-commerce space has yet to fully adopt augmented reality. Euromonitor International has identified “cloud, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) among the top three technologies that companies expect to witness investment growth over the next five years in the commerce world.”
Integration of augmented reality onto an e-commerce platform allows customers to preview and examine products without being present at a location physically, for example, testing out colour and style options, while matching and comparing alternate items according to preference. One of many innovations in the space is SEA’s leading e-commerce platform Lazada, which delivers realistic AI and AR-powered virtual solutions to shoppers, allowing them to sample products using images and live video options provided.
This trend brings numerous benefits for customers and brands alike, with lower return rates and high customer satisfaction, which in the long run translates to increased profitability and higher conversion rates, and will effectively transform the B2C retail experience through this immersive technology.
Sustainability has been a subject widely discussed and sought by many industries, especially the e-commerce space, witnessing a dramatic shift in consumer behaviours, and growing dedication to eco-conscious brands. Transparency and accountability are just as crucial to aiding the integration of sustainable practices into the B2C business model, and in the EY Future Consumer Index 2022, it reported that “over 82% of Asia-Pacific consumers responded deemed essential that companies remain transparent about their environmental impact with up to 28% willing to pay and invest more sustainable products and services.”
To optimise the customer experience in the online marketplace, convenience, product assortments, and accessibility, must align with customer values and shopping attitudes.
Furthermore, secondhand and resale e-commerce marketplaces are experiencing a steady yet upwards trend in APAC. Trailblazing Asian secondhand platform, Singapore’s Carousell is an online resale marketplace that appeals to independent consumers with its customer-to-customer (C2C) retail model.
Rather than simply adding green initiatives, e-commerce businesses must actively commit to delivering a transparent sustainability framework, accelerating the adoption of eco-friendly practices into its operations.
4. Social Commerce
Isolation induced by the ongoing pandemic accentuated the significance of feeling connected and engaged. Social media platforms conveniently act as a means for users to converse, access shared information, as well as stay up to date with the new directions of the world.
Imperatively, the traditional B2C e-commerce model is now shifting to social spaces, upon witnessing their massive traffic, unique concepts, and integrative capabilities. Additionally, modern-day online businesses have incorporated social media marketing into their operations through popular channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more, further capitalising on essential growth and outreach opportunities.
The digital boom, driven by recent increased internet access and smartphone penetration, is expected to expand the social commerce industry by 38.2% on an annual basis, and to reach US$423,136.5 million in 2022 in APAC.
5. Omnichannel E-Commerce
Emerging technologies and changing consumer shopping behaviour poses multiple new challenges for e-commerce businesses. Omnichannel e-commerce paves the way to open growth opportunities for innovation in the digital realm.
Not to be confused with multichannel marketing, omnichannel e-commerce encapsulates the holistic and unified customer experience, by optimising accessibility and delivering a seamless online shopping experience, across all sales channels. A 2021 survey by GlobalData reported the key driving factors of online shopping in APAC, with convenience rated the highest at 73%, followed by time-saving aspects at 67%.
EcommerceIQ, a B2B e-commerce service provider based in Thailand, facilitates and innovates end-to-end digital solutions for companies in SEA, enabling brands to optimise, and reach high efficiency and sales targets. Its technologies and services range from offering competitive insights, to optimising sales channels and leveraging social networks, further enabling businesses to sell their products across multiple channels by redirecting to their different e-commerce management platforms.
Observing current trends, one needs to go beyond simply surviving in this competitive business environment. Moreover, innovation and adoption of streamlined processes lay the fundamental groundwork for companies to grow their presence and generate multiple streams of revenue.