Being stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with malls closed and restaurants under restriction, drove our lives online. Even with lockdowns slowly lifting across most countries, the surge in digital adoption and new consumer behaviour during this period is set to continue. 

Online shopping would certainly be one - Considering pretty much everything is now obtainable by the press of a button, the pandemic has revealed an evolving purchase journey as well as a growing appetite for e-commerce in Asia. 

Shopping is a journey, not a destination. 

Consumers are researching more than they are purchasing. GlobalWebIndex's broad survey of Internet users revealed that 81% did an online search for their buys, and 90% visited the retail site/store in the past month. In comparison, only 74% managed to make an online purchase. 

Social media is a key information source. 

Social media has since emerged as a key channel for new brand discovery. 26% of internet users say they discover new brands and products through ads on social, and 22% rely on recommendations/comments on social media. 

Consumers in Southeast Asia' emerging markets are also conducting brand research on social media. Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia have close to 60% of their Internet users turning to social media for more information about brands, compared to the global average of 42%. 

Given the time users have spent on social media for shopping, businesses should look to explore social commerce — allowing users to not only explore brands and get inspired but also convert them from a window shopper into a customer right on the social platform. 

Visual and voice search are on the rise.

As people start interacting more with their phones and devices and less with their web browsers, the nature of search started to transition. Sensory search is beginning to catch on in Asia. 6 in 10 Internet users in India have been using voice interfaces each month, while close to half of the Internet users in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia use image recognition tools on their mobile each month. 

Now that showing up on Page 1 of Google Search is no longer enough, marketers will have to rethink and adapt their content with visual and voice search in mind. 

More shoppers are going mobile. 

Southeast Asia leads in mobile ecommerce adoption, with Indonesia having the highest rate of any country in the world — 78% of all internet users in Indonesia made a purchase from their phones in the past month.

However, despite these high levels of use, the overall spend on ecommerce varies widely among Asian countries. Mature markets such as Hong Kong, China and Singapore are among the top spenders while emerging Southeast Asian markets maintain a relatively low spend. Indonesia, for example, has an average annual ecommerce spend of US$360 per user compared to the worldwide average of US$2,954. 

The love of online shopping is set to stay. 

Data from Contentsquare shows that the number of ecommerce transactions and ecommerce conversion rates are up by roughly 20% in July compared to the start of 2020.

On top of that, close to 60% of Internet users in India and China say they expect to shop online more frequently even after the outbreak is over. 

What’s coming?

As social media and ecommerce become increasingly entangled in our lives, there’s a myriad of opportunities for them to interact with and bolster one another. And as social networks introduce more ecommerce features (i.e. Facebook launches Shop during the pandemic), social buying will soon become the norm here in Asia. Hence, marketers must understand how these shifts and movements will ultimately impact demand and sales for their brand’s products and services, as well as how best to create and develop social selling strategies. 

Charts shown are available in the Global Digital Report: July Statshot SlideShare embedded below:


Feature image source.

Written by Melantha Tan from We Are Social Singapore.