APAC online shoppers spent $594B in 2015

Online shoppers across six markets including Singapore, China, and Australia, forked out an estimated US$594 billion last year, with many heading to US e-commerce sites.

Online shoppers across six Asia-Pacific markets have spent an estimated US$594 billion in 2015, with many heading to US e-commerce sites for their retail therapy.

Singapore led the pack in terms of cross-border purchases, with 69 percent in the city-state making online buys beyond local shores. Australia followed at 65 percent and India ranked third, with 38 percent in the second most populous country heading overseas for their online shopping.

And they are expected to continue spending over the next couple of years, according to stats from PayPal's cross-border e-commerce global report that included six Asia-Pacific markets: Singapore, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Conducted by Ipsos, the study polled 23,354 respondents across 29 countries, which also included Germany, US, and South Africa.

The report noted that e-commerce spending was expected to climb as more consumers in the Asia-Pacific region turned to online shopping. For instance, by 2017, India was projected to see a 53 percent increase in online shopping, while China would clock a 28 percent growth and Singapore a 16 percent spike.

And with the growing adoption of mobile devices, the study found that mobile purchases accounted for an average of 42 percent and 36 percent of online spend in China and India, respectively. The majority of online buys in the region, however, were still transacted via a desktop or mobile computer.

In addition, US e-commerce sites were the leading shopping destination for Asia-Pacific shoppers, followed by online stores in China, the UK, and Japan. Some 68 percent of the region's respondents noted a preference for large international stores, such as Amazon, when they made cross-border purchases.

While the usual suspects such as clothing, beauty products, and travel accounted for most of the online transactions, the report noted increasing demand for basic needs. Grocery shopping, for instance, was projected to grow 21 percent this year in Singapore.

Hamish Moline, PayPal's Asia-Pacific vice president of regional merchant services, said: "As both the internet and usage of mobile phones and tablets transform the face and form of retail, online borderless shopping continues to grow rapidly, presenting a clear opportunity for businesses to embrace their export potential.

"With the transformation of consumer demand for online and cross-border goods, as well as the platforms now available, any business can become a competitive player in the global marketplace," said Moline. "The data from the PayPal research underscores an opportunity for businesses in Asia-Pacific to extend their reach to the global market without the exorbitant cost from traditional geo-expansion."

Indeed, free shipping was cited by 47 percent of respondents in the region as an incentive to make cross-border online purchases, while 46 percent pointed to secured payments and 41 percent identified proof of authenticity.

Not surprising then that shipping cost was the biggest barrier, highlighted among 47 percent respondents, of cross-border shopping. Other concerns included the lack of help when problems surfaced (44 percent), while 42 percent were worried about not receiving their purchases.

There also was anxiety over currency conversion, with 75 percent of online shoppers in the region preferring to have the ability to choose to pay in their local currency, and 52 percent expressing uneasiness over having to pay in a foreign currency.

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