Coronavirus pandemic fuels Asia e-commerce boom

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By: Nikkei Asian Review

E-commerce retailers across Asia have seen explosive sales growth during the pandemic crisis as consumers under lockdown splurge online.

With brick-and-mortar retail outlets virtually shut out of the market, government enforced lockdowns have also provided an unexpected boost for niche e-commerce platforms that consumers may never have visited otherwise.

Digital advertising solutions provider Criteo said its market research indicated that more than 50% of consumers now had more plans to shop online as a result of the pandemic, compared to just 17% who said they would now make few digital purchases.

“We have seen increased demand for health and personal hygiene products including surgical masks and hand sanitizers, along with other daily necessities such as nonperishable food and beverage products,” said Zhou Junjie, chief commercial officer for Singapore-based e-commerce platform Shopee.

Shopee has reaped the benefits of the pandemic, with its gross merchandise value jumping 74.3% to reach $6.2 billion for the first quarter.

The total number of orders on Shopee reached 429.8 million in the first quarter, compared 203.5 million for the same period last year — an increase of 111.2%.

Jumping on the surge, Shopee, which is one of Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platforms by web traffic, has rolled out a program for consumers to buy items for cooking, work and entertainment — with free shipping to boot.

Singapore’s CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest real estate groups announced last week that it will be introducing a new e-commerce platform named eCapitaMall featuring the wares of retailers that had physical shops in the company’s malls.

“As the operator of Singapore’s largest mall network, we want to help our retailers reach out to more consumers and online business opportunities,” Chris Chong, Managing Director for Retail at CapitaLand Singapore said.

In China, e-commerce platforms took part in a new shopping festival, anchored in Shanghai, named “Double Five” — after the 5 May date of its launch. The event raked in US$2.2 billion in the first 24 hours, according to the Chinese financial hub’s Commerce Commission.

Billions of renminbi in the form of online coupons and discounts were distributed for the campaign, which has been slated to last for two months with digital retailers even teaming up with offline shops to hawk big ticket items like luxury cars for sale.


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