Consumers are turning to online shopping as a result of restriction measures enforced by governments and one of the few sectors which has managed to benefit greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic is e-commerce. According to GfK Market Intelligence for Southeast Asia’s six key markets, online sales for technical consumer goods (TCG) continued to surge across all markets in the first quarter of 2021.
GfK findings showed a 6% rise in sales value contributions, translating to 43% growth or US$594 million increased sales in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020 in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
“With a booming population of online shoppers, Southeast Asia undoubtedly possesses a strong e-commerce market, having been growing progressively over the last two years,” said Alexander Dehmel, Market Insights Lead, GfK Asia. “The pandemic was, and still is a key trigger that has forced many traditional shoppers to now shop online, creating an even more robust online marketplace.”
Indonesia is one of the markets that has been demonstrating the steadiest hike in e-commerce contributions. Its online sales have been contributing an increasing share of the overall TCG market value, rising consecutively for three years straight — from 14 percent in 2019, 19 percent in 2020 and subsequently to 23 percent in the latest period. Singapore (22%) and Thailand (22%) are the two other markets where online sales contributions have exceeded 20 percent of overall TCG market in Q1 2021.
Based on GfK Market Intelligence, four key online buying trends have surfaced during this tracking period:
Working@home has become the norm for many, which generated strong demands for technological gadgets. While media tablet sales spiked 80 percent in Q1 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, mobile computing devices also registered similar uptrend with sales value growing from 9 percent in 2020 to 35 percent in 2021.
Eating@home persisted after lockdown periods. Appliances that helped to simplify cooking surged in demand. For instance, deep fryers and food preparation registered exponential growth of over 300 percent and 30 percent in value respectively. Healthy eating habits also drove up sales of water filters by 49 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
Cleaning@home consequently led to more frequent cleaning to stay healthy and protected. Consumers are going online to purchase air treatment products, driving up sales value contribution from the online channel to more than half (51%) of overall sales in Q1 2021. A similar trend is being reflected in the vacuum cleaner segment, where online sales across the region in Q1 has grown to account for nearly half of overall market sales.
Entertain@home: Home entertainment appliances such as tablets, headsets and speakers surged in demand as homebound consumers splurged on such devices to keep themselves entertained while confined in their homes. GfK’s findings in Q1 2021 reported mini/bluetooth speakers to have the highest percentage of online sales value contribution at 75 percent, while headsets came in at 65 percent. The rise of at-home gaming has also fuelled demand in the gaming segment, which registered over USD 270 million in increased sales compared to Q1 in 2020.
GfK embarked on its expansion drive to enhance its online sales reporting capabilities for the Southeast Asia region. Since beginning of 2021, Malaysia and Philippines have been added to its pre-existing coverage of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia to complete its internet sales expansion covering the six key markets in the region. In addition, GfK has increased the number of online product categories tracked, and enhanced the granularity of its online reporting by further breaking down sales contribution from the different online channels — pure player/marketplaces versus click and mortar.
Overall 80 country-category combinations have been improved or launched in 2021, accounting for the USD 280 million in increased sales value contribution by these newly tracked online categories in the first quarter of the year. The expansion drive also continues outside of Southeast Asia, to Hong Kong, where online sales tracking will commence in the last quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, further enhancements continue to beset-up across the region for 2022.
“As the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia is set to grow, Internet sales will undeniably be a force to be reckoned with during these wary and uncertain times, bringing along numerous benefits in its path,” said Dehmel. “The “at-home” experiences have kept the online marketplace going and provided a cushion against economic shocks created by the pandemic in the past months. Going forward, these “at-home” experiences will continue to shape the online marketplace and economic drivers that are vital for success even in the post pandemic world, in areas of convenience, performance, as well as health and hygiene.”