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150 million consumers digitally active in SEA

Anuradha Shukla | March 18, 2016
Exhibit high levels of product search and engagement, says report.

More than 150 million consumers in the Southeast Asia region are digitally active, and exhibit high levels of product search and engagement.

250 million consumers are now connected via smartphone and 100 million engage in online transactions.

This finding from a new report by Bain & Company and Google indicates that digital media connectivity in Southeast Asia now rivals that of China.

However, e-commerce in the region is proving to be a tough nut to crack due to constraints in Southeast Asia's logistics and payments infrastructure. 

"The growth of the Southeast Asian e-commerce market is slow but significant, particularly when you consider that it started from a very small base in 2012 and has doubled every year since," said Sebastien Lamy, a Bain partner and co-author of the report.

Low online sales

Online sales are below 4 percent of total retail despite the fact that online retail represents a US$6 billion market in Southeast Asia.

This is the reason why the region still lags well behind developed markets and even other developing markets.

Digital influences only 20 percent of consumer purchases, particularly mobile phones, clothing and laptops.  The biggest hurdle for e-commerce success in Southeast Asia is due to the highly fragmented nature of the region. 

The report anticipates online retail sales across Southeast Asia could hit US$70 billion by 2020. 

"We believe this region is on the cusp of a digital boom that is beginning to transcend e-commerce and impact sectors from travel and tourism to financial services and payments.  Those that recognise its early potential in spite of persistent complexities will reap the rewards," added Lamy.


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