Southeast Asia is a region whose vibrancy, diversity and natural beauty have made it a perennial favourite among travellers from across the globe.
It’s also a part of the world that is offering great opportunities for businesses with an eye on international expansion. Some of the most exciting opportunities can be found in the ecommerce sector, thanks to key ingredients including a highly engaged mobile user market.
With the right marketing and customer engagement strategies, Southeast Asia could prove a fruitful region for your growing company.
A Thriving Online Economy
Like many parts of the world, Southeast Asia has experienced consistent growth in ecommerce, an industry that is expected to be worth more than $3.4 trillion (£2.7 trillion) by the end of 2019.
According to the e-Conomy SEA 2018 report from Google and Singaporean holding company Temasek, the Southeast Asian internet economy has reached an “inflection point”. Studies from the previous two years predicted the region’s online economy would reach a value of $200 billion by 2025, but that forecast has now been raised to $240 billion.
Unprecedented growth in ecommerce has played a key part in this trend, with Southeast Asian countries now home to 120 million online shoppers, up from 50 million in 2015. The ecommerce sector generated some $23 billion of economic value in 2018, double the figure recorded in 2017.
Furthermore, the region is home to “the most engaged mobile internet users in the world”, according to the research.
The ever-increasing power and reach of the mobile channel opens up more opportunities for your business to make contact with customers and build relationships in the digital spaces where they spend most of their time – social media communities, for example.
A thriving online economy and growing ecommerce sector certainly offer a lot of potential for businesses in Southeast Asia. However, it’s also important to be aware that the development of the industry is likely to mean tougher competition and higher consumer expectations, so your marketing and customer relationship efforts need to hit a high standard to yield results.
By far the biggest priority for marketers in the region, according to a recent survey by Econsultancy and Resulticks, is real-time marketing. The ability to engage with your customers in real time, meeting their immediate needs or answering questions as promptly as possible, could prove vital to your efforts to develop loyal relationships and build your brand in Southeast Asia.
Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents identified real-time marketing as a top priority, while approximately half were focused on omnichannel delivery and engagement (52 per cent) and personalisation (48 per cent).
To achieve any of these goals, you must be able to communicate with your customers quickly and efficiently. If you’re unable to do this, your business will be at risk of missing out on sales opportunities and losing customers to rival brands that are more connected to their audience.
In a region as diverse as Southeast Asia, effective customer communication and relationship building relies on a strong grasp of the various languages spoken throughout its constituent countries.
A Land of Diversity
Southeast Asia covers a land area of just over 4.5 million sq km and encompasses 11 different countries, meaning it has great cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
If your business is hoping to succeed there, you need to take a strategic, carefully planned approach to identifying and making connections with your target audience. In such a multifaceted region, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ outlook simply won’t be good enough.
As far as languages are concerned, Thai, Malay, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Lao, Burmese, Khmer and Tagalog are all spoken across Southeast Asia, along with some Chinese dialects. It’s therefore vital that you are not only aware of the best language in which to communicate with your customers, but equipped with the expertise to use that language in the most appropriate and effective way to get results.
Dedicated services such as market scoping can help you gain a deeper understanding of particular destinations within this varied and complex region, so you can make informed decisions and forecasts before committing to a major investment.
Contact Locaria today on +44 (0)20 3948 6800 to see how we can help you gain maximum advantage from the growth of ecommerce in Southeast Asia.