As internet adoption grows at a double digit pace year on year in Southeast Asia – a 31 percent increase last year – retailers and brands must find ways to capture the wave of the some 80 million new consumers coming online.

Internet shopping has become one of the most robust areas of growth in the last few years, especially in markets like Indonesia and Thailand as both international and local ecommerce players pour money into winning the emerging digital customer in the region.

In such a fragmented market segmented varying in cultures and languages, there are a few common key threads to be noted about the region’s increasingly affluent shoppers:

  • Southeast Asia is mobile first. Mobile subscriptions have increased by 8% since last year, adding an additional 60 million users.
  • Southeast Asian’s are the most actively engaged with social media. Indonesia is sometimes referred to as “Twitter city” whereas Total Access Communication Pcl, estimates that Thais spend up to six hours a day on Facebook and Youtube – the 8th highest in the world.
  • Southeast Asia has low credit card penetration and a large unbanked population – 73 percent – due to a lack of financial maturity.
  • There is an overall low trust in anything ‘digital’ due to its novelty and user unfamiliarity.

So how do retailers, brand stores and marketplaces attract more consumers to shop on their websites?

One highly successful and proven method is to incentivize with large discounts, leading to the emergence of some of the region’s most infamous flash sales.

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Here’s what you need to know.

1. Lazada’s 12.12 sale nets $40.5 million

Lazada Group’s Online Revolution, also known as 12.12, has again proven to be the biggest online shopping event in Southeast Asia, ringing up US$40.5 million in sales.

About 60% of the gross merchandise value (GMV) of the December 12 event came from mobile, with shoppers spending an average of 12 minutes on Lazada apps browsing deals from international and local brands and sellers.

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2. Asian postal services adapt to post-mail era

With traditional mail volumes dropping dramatically, ecommerce offers hope for national postal firms in Asia if they adapt quickly enough and do battle with giants like FedEx and DHL.

Asian postal firms “are doing some very innovative things to take advantage of ecommerce”, said Brody Buhler, global managing director for post and parcel at consultancy Accenture. Japan Post has partnered with convenience stores to provide 24-hour delivery, while Pos Malaysia is boosting its warehousing, logistics and other other capabilities in a bid to become a full-service ecommerce provider.

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3. Online retailer brings catwalk to Indonesia’s streets

MullenLowe Indonesia has launched a branding campaign for Sale Stock, an emerging e-commerce fashion platform. Themed “Fashion for the rest of us”, the campaign aims to democratize good quality fashion for cost-sensitive women.

A television and online campaign that is running on YouTube, Facebook, Line and Instagram is titled “Catwalk Nusantara” (‘Nusantara’ translates loosely to ‘the archipelago’ and is a way of referring to Indonesia). The campaign emphasizes the ease of shopping online at Sale Stock.

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Sale Stock has been making wakes in the industry this year. Most recently, it has launched the first chatbot in Southeast Asia. Read all about it here.

Here’s a round-up of what you need to know today.

1. Ecommerce service provider Shopmatic nabs Ruby on Rails dev team through acquisition

Singapore-based ecommerce startup Shopmatic has acquired Taiwanese Ruby on Rails technology company 5xRuby, it announced today. Founded by former PayPal staffers Anurag Avula, Yen Lim, and Kris Chen, the startup wants to solve the problem of small merchants who find it daunting to bring their business online. Its core user base is currently in India.

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2. Facebook wants to bankroll its own original shows

Facebook wants to bankroll its own original video shows, the company’s global creative strategy chief, Ricky Van Veen, told Business Insider on Wednesday. The videos Facebook wants to license will live in the new video tab of its mobile app and including “scripted, unscripted, and sports content,” according to Van Veen.

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3. Harbolnas (12.12) boosted online shop sales booked a total of 400,000 transactions during the two days of Harbolnas.

Bukalapak Brand Manager Ambrosia Tyas, said that most of the customers are attracted by the discounts and special offers presented during the Harbolnas.

“The number of transactions are five times higher compared to the 2015 Harbolnas,” Ambrosia said.

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Southeast Asia’s marketplaces are placing emphasis on large scale sale campaigns. For insights into how they prepare for 11.11 sale, click here.

Here are today’s top ecommerce news.

1. Community commerce takes center stage during Taobao’s 12.12 sale

Alibaba Group is blurring the lines between social media and e-tailing during the company’s annual 12.12 online sale held by giant C2C shopping website Taobao Marketplace.

Taobao shopping channels and the site’s mobile app have been lit up with blogs, live-streamed videos and other promotional content, much of it generated by ordinary Taobao users. It’s all part of Alibaba’s ongoing drive to help Taobao retailers engage Chinese consumers through social media, in what company officials call “community commerce”.

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2. Zalora Philippines is benefitting from holiday season

‘Sales momentum started to pick-up as early as October, a few weeks earlier than last year. And the peaks and highs are even higher than last year. But I can tell you in December we’re averaging more than double the traffic last year, or more than 100 percent,’ says Paulo Compos, CEO of Zalora Philippines.

He observes that buyers have been spending more time on the net, especially when the holiday season peaks. From browsing an average of 10 minutes in previous years, consumers are now spending 13 to 14 minutes per browse on the net. As sales grow brisk, operations are also expected to keep up with the volume. Zalora is beefing up its delivery system, hiring more riders on top of the current fleet of 400.

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3. Recommended Reading: Alibaba to tighten its hold on Thailand’s ecommerce

Despite their intention, Alibaba faces two potentially significant challenges in Thailand. One is that Thailand still lags behind developed markets in terms of internet usage. eMarketer estimates only 49.8% of the population of Thailand uses the internet as of 2016.

The second challenge for Alibaba is the other 800-pound gorilla in the global ecommerce sector: Amazon, the only competitor with the budget and will to battle Alibaba in a Southeast Asia turf war.

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Recovering from the weekend? Anxious about shopping during 12.12? Start your Monday with today’s top ecommerce headlines.

1. ShopBack Philippines crafts 12.12 ‘online fever sale’

ShopBack Philippines recently conducted a survey among 2,200 Filipinos who shop online frequently. The survey revealed that 4 out of 5 shoppers know exactly what item they want to buy when they go online, which shows that impulse buys were not high on their radar.

ShopBack Philippines curated the 12.12 Online Fever Sale around some of its top partner stores like Lazada and ZALORA, aimed at offering the smarter way to shop-and-save for Christmas presents, helping Filipinos to skip the congested metro traffic, long lines at check-out counters, and to save more money.

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2. Online shopping festivals boom in Thailand as brands gear up for end of year sales

Following Lazada Thailand’s successful 11.21 sales campaign, where the marketplace giant made over 270,000 sales in 24 hours, its now preparing for 12.12 and will last until the 14th. The campaign is expected to bring in three times the sale of a regular shopping period.

Faris by Naris‘ makeup from Japan, solely imported by Better Way Thailand, will also be venturing into ecommerce for the first time on 12.12. The brand cited Alibaba’s 11.11 success as inspiration to finally go online.

Read the rest of the story (in Thai) here.


3. Alipay launches in Australia

Alipay and Quest Payment Systems Pty Ltd, an Australian payments provider, are teaming up to roll out Alipay at select stores in Australia. The digital wallet, which is currently used by Chinese nationals to pay for in-store purchases using their mobile phones, is now available at select stores within The Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist pharmacy groups.


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