Indonesia’s ecommerce growth for the coming years will open up more opportunities for online players and service providers. Increasing ecommerce adoption and a maturing population will mean that there’s more demand to make online shopping easier.

According to Statista, the country currently counts approximately 28.2 million shoppers, and is projected to experience a 3-4% increase every year. In 2018, the figure is expected to jump to 31.7 million, then to 42.1 million by 2021.


The majority of users are in the 25-34 age bracket and account for 12.8 million users who are shopping online in Indonesia. This number is expected to grow to 18.2 million by 2021.


Indonesia could see online retail makeup 7-8% of total retail sales by 2020, a big jump from the current figure of 1% (2016).

What can we learn from this?

Indonesia does not have a national offline footprint that enables residents outside of big cities to purchase goods from large department stores. As internet adoption increases, more Indonesians are expected to order online to access products they would otherwise struggle to get.

However, online companies still struggle with finding affordable, reliable and speedy delivery to reach remote areas such as Tanjung Selor in North Kalimantan, where the package has to first be sent via plane, followed by a speed boat.

Companies like aCommerce have set up logistics hubs closer to remote places places such as Papua to cut down delivery times and cash reconciliation as cash on delivery is still a major method of payment. Service providers that can tackle and offer solutions to these infrastructural challenges will increasingly be in demand as more Indonesians go online.

Sigve Brekke, Head of Asian Operations at Telenor Group with DTAC CEO Lars Norling Source:

Sigve Brekke, Head of Asian Operations at Telenor Group with Dtac CEO Lars Norling, Source:

Thailand’s most popular mobile carriers, Dtac and AIS are pushing new data driven initiatives as data has surpassed traditional voice services as their key revenue mainstay. As Southeast Asia becomes more inherently focused on using internet on mobile, demands for data bundle deals will surge.

“Today we are experiencing a big, important shift from voice to data and digital,” CEO of Dtac Lars Norling told the press conference

The shift from voice to data and digital means mobile carriers shifting marketing strategies as heavy data users will be loyal to companies that provide them with the best deals. This explains why Dtac partners with YouTube to offer unlimited streaming in one of its packages.

Advanced Info Service (AIS), Thailand’s largest mobile carrier, also follows suit with a new prepaid sim card that offers 500MB a month of free internet access and 2GB of Youtube viewing.

AIS data revenue increased 21% in Q1 of ths year while voice revenue dropped 17%.

The big mobile carrier players have the capacity to expand, but with stocks down by more than 30 percent from 2015, it will be difficult to convince investors that their growth in a data driven market is viable.

Thai smartphone owners really care about data

The surging importance of data demand for mobile carriers signify the rising mobile consumer trend in Thailand, and the rest of the Southeast Asian region. As consumers look for more data heavy deals, it creates more opportunities for mobile commerce and mobile focused campaigns by agencies.

A version of this appeared in Nikkei Asia on June 21. Read the full article here.

mobile opportunity in Myanmar


The new digital wave in Myanmar is both very recent but extremely fast. In particular, the mobile opportunity in Myanmar is currently creating untapped opportunities for tech start-up and ecommerce ventures across the region. The country has seen massive growth in internet penetration, mobile phone adoption and social media usage in the past few years, spurred by the end of direct military rule and rapid opening up of its market after decades of isolation.

The consumer market in Myanmar has essentially bypassed the development stages seen in other economies and moved straight to digital and mobile, making the country a potentially interesting test bed for internet-enabled businesses.

The mobile phone penetration rate in Myanmar, which barely touched double digits in 2013, has now reached around 50% of its estimated 54 million population last year.

According to Ericsson report, Myanmar is the fourth fastest-growing mobile market on earth and over six years, the cost of a SIM card has shrunk from US$ 1,500 to US$ 1.50 today.

The major challenge to overcome urgently is “that the digital transformation is happening so quickly, it’s difficult for countries in the region to keep up in terms of talent” explains Rami Sharaf, Senior VP of Royal Group of Companies Ltd in Cambodia.

The upside of the new mobile opportunity in Myanmar is that it creates new markets for local and foreign tech and ecommerce startups around the region. “With more users, more businesses will come because the market is here,” he said.

A version of this appeared in Bangkok Post on June 20. Read the full article here.