Euromonitor International sums up key findings from this year’s Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 rankings and provides an overview of the retail scene in 14 Asia-Pacific economies in 2016.
The growing Internet access and the spread of consumer electronics have spawned a new consumer segment: hyperconnected consumers. These shoppers are constantly connected and they rely heavily on Internet resources when deciding what to buy.
This article will examine several factors that contribute to the rise of hyperconnected shoppers in China, India, Japan and South Korea, which lead the way in terms of digital commerce in Asia-Pacific.
China, India, Japan and South Korea by the numbers
Equipped with more mobile devices and Internet access, shoppers in China, Japan, South Korea and India are going online to shop. The percentage of households with access to Internet has been increasing quickly in these four markets, and this growth is expected to continue. By 2021, 75%, 99%, 100% and 34% of households in China, Japan, South Korea and India, respectively, are expected to have access to Internet.
In addition to more households gaining access to Internet, more shoppers are also gaining possession of digital devices, further contributing to the growing share of digital commerce.
Furthermore, while increasing rates of Internet penetration and device ownership enable and encourage consumers in all four markets to shop online, it is interesting to note that those in certain markets such as India and China are digitally leapfrogging and becoming mobile-first shoppers.
With advances in technology around mobile devices, the growth of mobile commerce is unlikely to slow down. By 2021, a higher percentage of households will possess smartphones than personal computers in China, India and South Korea. Mobile -commerce sales will continue to account for a growing share of total digital sales. In the next five years in three markets — China, Japan and South Korea — more than half of total digital sales will
be from mobile.
China, in particular, is a true mobile nation. Starting in 2015, Chinese consumers made more purchases through smartphones than they did on computers. In 2016, 73% of all digital commerce in the market was transacted on mobile devices, and this figure is expected to increase further to 83% by 2021.
Retail companies are capitalising on shoppers’ hyperconnectivity
Hyperconnected consumers are a critical target for retailers and brands looking ahead. While technology usage still varies across these four countries and their demographics, there is no doubt that shopping is becoming more digital and therefore omnichannel. Companies crafting their digital strategies should look to hyperconnected consumers for insights into how their customers will want to interact with them in the future, whether in physical stores, online or via mobile devices.
Notable retailers that are capitalising on shoppers’ hyperconnectivity in Asia-Pacific include Flipkart in India, Coupang in South Korea, Rakuten in Japan and Alibaba in China. Each of
these companies is primarily an online retailer that maintains both desktop website and mobile app presence.
These retailers are finding creative solutions around common issues faced by online retailers, particularly those regarding secure payment methods, reliable delivery services and strong
logistics infrastructure. All four retailers have an advantage in being among the first movers in the digital commerce space, but there will likely be room for others to enter in these markets, especially in South Korea, where digital commerce is very much fragmented.
— Report by Michelle Malison, Industry Research Analyst-Retailing, Euromonitor International