22 October 2019
Mobile commerce is predicted to grow more than three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, and Asia-Pacific consumers are already outpacing the rest of the globe in adapting to this trend. Photo: Bloomberg
Mobile commerce is predicted to grow more than three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, and Asia-Pacific consumers are already outpacing the rest of the globe in adapting to this trend. Photo: Bloomberg

E-commerce in Asia: How to turn browsers into buyers

For businesses today, the ability to go global is just a click away.

Online merchants in the retail and travel sectors can now capitalize on customers all around the world – and this e-commerce boom is especially prevalent in Asia.

Asia-Pacific has one of the largest appetites in the world for online browsing and the highest browsing-to-buying ratios of any other region.

E-commerce sales in Asia-Pacific were worth US$383.9 billion in 2013 and are expected to reach more than US$1 trillion by 2017.

Even countries like Hong Kong which have long favored a brick-and-mortar shopping experience are turning to e-commerce, with the online shopping market in Hong Kong growing 16 percent from 2009 to 2014 and expected to grow a further 6 percent by 2019.

This sort of e-commerce growth, which can be seen all across Asia, is driven by economic development alongside internet and mobile penetration – 73 percent of Asian consumers use a smartphone and, increasingly, they are shopping and paying directly from their mobile device.

In this technology-driven economic environment, companies across various sectors are looking to take their business online and find new shoppers across the globe.

E-commerce offers huge opportunities but first, companies must learn how to meet ever-higher expectations from customers who demand an enjoyable, professional and secure online shopping experience.

Data-driven insight can help businesses capitalize on trends and opportunities in e-commerce.

We recently commissioned a report to see how companies can optimize the online payment journey to improve user experience and grow their e-commerce business.

The Online Payment Journey Report was compiled from research carried out in partnership with KAE Marketing Intelligence Limited, which conducted desktop analysis of 25 top travel booking sites and 25 top retail sites in 14 countries.

Researchers also surveyed 250 online travel shoppers and 250 online retail shoppers in these countries across North America, South America, EMEA and APAC.

The report highlighted that in APAC countries and around the globe, online consumers are first and foremost concerned about the safety of payment and personal details.

They may cut short their virtual shopping trip if an e-commerce site is so cluttered or unprofessional that it causes immediate security concerns.

More than 25 percent of travel customers in China and India were dropping out during the e-commerce checkout process due to fears that the site was not secure.

The report also demonstrated that shoppers in Asia are concerned about data privacy and want a clear explanation of how personal and payment details will be stored and used.

When designing the best possible e-commerce customer journey, businesses must also consider mobile integration.

Mobile commerce is predicted to grow more than three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, and Asia-Pacific consumers are already outpacing the rest of the globe in adapting to this trend.

In Hong Kong, for example, mobile penetration is 231 percent, meaning more than two mobile devices per person.

With mobile purchases rising every year, it’s little surprise that the mobile commerce market in Hong Kong is expected to reach HK$17.8 billion in 2015 with over 41 percent of e-commerce in the city taking place via mobile.

Just across the border, 21 percent of e-commerce in China is done through the mobile phone.

Developing countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines are likewise taking advantage of cheap mobile devices to shop an unprecedented breadth of goods and services.

To appeal to this new set of mobile customers in Asia – many of them living in developing rural communities – companies need to offer a range of choices in payment method and currency.

The Online Payment Journey report found that nearly 80 percent of shoppers in China want the ability to convert international prices into local currency, and that more than 30 percent of Indian and Chinese consumers dropped out of the e-commerce checkout process when unable to use their preferred method of payment.

Many new customers in developing countries may not have access to traditional bankcards and will therefore rely on companies to offer alternative payment platforms like rechargeable cash cards, direct deposit or cash on delivery.

Optimizing the online payment journey is perhaps even more important in mobile shopping because mobile retail conversion rates are far lower than desktop (2.7 percent versus 4.4 percent).

Companies might turn more mobile window shoppers into happy customers by letting them know which payment methods are accepted up front.

Forty-two percent of shoppers in India and more than 36 percent in South Korea, Japan and Australia told researchers that seeing their preferred payment method immediately on a website’s home page made them more likely to make a purchase from that site.

Of course, it’s important to remember that even with Asia’s impressive e-commerce and mobile commerce development, there’s still room to grow.

Southeast Asia, for example, is twice as populous as the United States (where e-commerce accounts for 10 percent of all purchases) and yet only one percent of all sales occur online.

At the same time, there’s no rebutting the fact that e-commerce in Southeast Asia and the entire Asia-Pacific region is rapidly expanding.

It’s essential that companies looking to capitalize on this growth provide the best possible user experience online, offering a shopping and payment journey that is secure and professional.

Mobile integration will prove more and more important to e-commerce as a whole, and businesses that can put a cutting-edge payment infrastructure into place now will reap the benefits as technology continues to develop in the future.

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VP Business Development, APAC, Global eCommerce, Worldpay