SE Asians rush for sales as online shift deepens

Source:China Daily

JAKARTA-Amid the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases, retailers across Southeast Asia have banded together to offer the region's residents good deals in an online shopping event.

The annual ASEAN Online Sale Day was held for three days, creating an avenue for retailers across various sectors to showcase their offerings and reach out to the larger regional market.

Despite the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy of Southeast Asia is showing resilience with a promising e-commerce industry.

"Amazing discounts are here again, and I'm going to make full use of them," said Val Reyes, a mother of three living in the capital Manila of the Philippines.

"Toys come and go for babies and I plan to order new ones online this time. It's rather convenient, especially now that we are prohibited to go shopping in malls because of the very strict pandemic measures."

Flashing ads for sales have been seen for several days before the event on the websites and mobile phone apps of local and cross-border e-commerce players such as Shopee, Lazada, Zalora and JD.

From groceries to electronics and educational and hotel services, a variety of products and services across the region can be accessed with a few clicks.

"I've been browsing through several platforms on my phone, trying to find an ideal pair of skateboarding shoes with a good deal," said Daniel Hadiyan, a 25-year-old working at a startup in Jakarta, Indonesia.

This is the second time members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are holding this shopping event, which was initiated by Vietnam last year to be a yearly event. It aims to facilitate transborder e-commerce and support local small and medium-sized enterprises during the ongoing pandemic.

"I expect to see sales boost for 8.8," said Hardi Syahputra, a 31-year-old online merchant living in Java Island of Indonesia. He turned to selling clothes and shoes online after resigning last year. The company he worked for was battered by the pandemic.

Many Indonesians like Syahputra have been going online for a new lifeline after being laid off or fired from their previous jobs during the pandemic.

Products by 97 Indonesian businesses are being offered on the ASEAN Online Sale Day through their respective platforms, six times more the number of participants from last year.

High level of growth

According to a recent Lazada report, 52 percent of sellers in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore saw a high level of growth during the first half of 2021, with 70 percent expecting additional growth of more than 10 percent in the third quarter of 2021.

The e-commerce industry is also bringing in more and more momentum to economic recovery. Based on a report conducted by Google, Temasek and Bain on Southeast Asia's e-commerce last year, the gross merchandise volume of e-commerce in this region is expected to grow by 23 percent from $62 billion in 2020 to $172 billion by 2025.

This is driven by a young and digitally savvy population, and bolstered by increased information and communications technology infrastructure investments by governments and businesses.