Why international brands must be ready to seize the APAC opportunity

Tuesday October 15, 2019 - Posted by:

According to research by Rakuten Marketing, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region offers huge potential for international retailers that are equipped and prepared to take advantage of growth opportunities on the global stage.

The study examined trends in cross-border shopping by surveying more than 3,570 consumers in the UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Singapore and the USA.

Responses from international shoppers highlighted a strong interest in buying from foreign brands, as well as a need for businesses to find the right strategy to engage with local audiences and meet expectations in key areas such as order fulfillment.

Expert services like target market research and international SEO can help your business overcome barriers and realise opportunities in global retail.

Global promise

A key finding of the Rakuten research was that nearly six out of ten global consumers (58 per cent) would purchase more international products online if they were made more aware of the brands available. Apparel and accessories (54 per cent) topped the list of items people would be willing to buy from international retailers.

Some of the highest interest in cross-border shopping was recorded in the 18-34 age group (67 per cent) and in the APAC region (65 per cent).

According to the survey, in Singapore almost all consumers have completed at least one purchase from another country,  with 61 per cent of shoppers planning to buy more online next year.

It’s clear that APAC – and specifically major markets like Singapore, India, Hong Kong and China – hold great potential for retailers with a global focus. To take advantage, however, you must be prepared to manage common issues such as high shipping costs and long wait times, which 67 per cent of APAC consumers cited as the biggest barriers to cross-border purchasing.

Asia – the world leader in ecommerce?

The Rakuten study is the latest in a series of reports that have highlighted the enormous potential of Asian markets for ecommerce growth in the coming years.

According to eMarketer, China will overtake the US to become the world’s top retail market in 2019, with total sales expected to grow by 7.5 per cent to more than $5.6 trillion (£4.6 trillion). Ecommerce in particular has become a powerful engine for the Chinese economy, with a projected increase of more than 30 per cent this year pushing online sales towards the $2 trillion mark.

“In recent years, consumers in China have experienced rising incomes, catapulting millions into the new middle class,” said Monica Peart, senior forecasting director at eMarketer. “The result has been [a] marked rise in purchasing power and average spending per person.”

Worldpay has been similarly positive in its predictions for the APAC ecommerce industry, which “continues to be defined by extraordinary growth.” One of the specific regional trends highlighted by the firm is the growth of mobile commerce, which is already the most popular online channel in South Korea and China. Mobile shopping is set to become increasingly common in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and India in the coming years.

If your business is scoping out international markets and regions for your next phase of growth, Asia could well be the most promising and potentially profitable place to start.

Just being online ‘is not enough’

The potential of APAC markets for global expansion is undeniable, but that doesn’t mean achieving success in this part of the world is easy. Far from it, in fact.

From getting to grips with the various dialects used in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to respecting religious views and customs in predominantly Muslim nations like Indonesia, there are many challenges to negotiate in the region.

Anthony Capano of Rakuten Marketing pointed out that “simply being online is not sufficient.”

To succeed in Asia, you need to have a deep understanding of the markets you are entering, the audiences you are targeting, and the approaches to marketing, communication and engagement that are most likely to connect with them.

“Consumer expectations are different across the world,” said Mr Capano. “The truth is you can almost guarantee the messages you’ve developed domestically won’t work further afield. When it comes to winning favour, it’s crucial to lean on in-market expertise.”

Locaria specialises in services that can help you strengthen your understanding of new markets, convey your brand messaging to international customers and build a global profile.

Find out more

To find out more about how functions like international SEO and web content localisation can increase your chances of success in Asia, give us a call on +44 (0)20 3948 6800.

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