Mobile commerce catching traditional e-commerce in Asean

Consumers in the Asean region are increasingly using their mobile devices to make online purchases, according to a study by Visa

Asean consumers are increasingly making online purchases and bill payments from their mobile phones or tablets, instead of their desktops and laptops, according to research.

Visa’s 2015 Regional eCommerce Monitor Survey for Asia-Pacific found an average 22% increase from 2014 in shopping via mobile devices across the region.

The survey polled 11,760 respondents aged 15 to 55 years from 13 markets in Asia-Pacific, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Respondents from Indonesia (36%), mainland China (34%) and Taiwan (28%) reported the greatest growth in mobile commerce (m-commerce) during the year.

“The results of the 2015 survey show that making purchases on-the-go through mobile devices is becoming the norm in the Asia-Pacific,” said Conor Lynch, regional director for e-commerce, at Visa Asia Pacific.

“As consumers get more comfortable using their smart devices to research, browse and purchase, mobile purchases should soon overtake traditional online purchases [desktops and laptops] for retailers,” said Lynch.

The trend in Asean countries is driven by the fact that mobile devices provide ease of access and can be used to interact with advertisements in the physical world, such as billboards, TV ads and print ads, according to Gartner research director Sandy Shen.

In fact, convenience outweighs any possible security concerns. “Challenges to mobile commerce adoption are more about companies working hard to get a mobile-friendly website on a small screen and easy-to-use apps to increase conversion,” said Shen.

Among the Asean countries, the survey found that the percentage of people who made a purchase on a smartphone in the past 12 months include: Indonesia (56%), Thailand (51%), Singapore (50%), Malaysia (48%) and Vietnam (37%).

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Another survey finding was that in Singapore (36%) and Malaysia (28%), bill payments were the top category for mobile payments, while fashion purchases topped the list for Indonesia (31%), Thailand (27%) and Vietnam (17%).

The growing popularity of the use of mobiles to shop online is narrowing the gap with traditional online channels such as laptops and desktop computers, especially in Thailand, where there are as many consumers making purchases on their mobile phones as on desktops.

The survey also revealed a trend in cross-border online shopping. Consumers from Singapore (77%), Malaysia (62%) and Indonesia (57%) were found to be most likely to make online purchases from retailers overseas, well above the Asia-Pacific average of 55%.

In contrast, consumers from Thailand (48%) and Vietnam (57%) were most likely to shop at domestic online stores.

The low fixed broadband penetration but high mobile penetration in most Asean countries, with the exception of Singapore, has resulted in higher proportions of mobile commerce in the total e-commerce spend, said Shen.

“There is a lot of opportunity for mobile growth and innovation in Asean, as well as challenges in delivery, payment and industry alliance,” said Shen.

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