Now it’s easier to enter the market of China, Thailand and Vietnam than before the pandemic. Online companies are trying to take advantage of this, but they often forget about one crucial thing. The Asia-Pacific region lives by its own rules: they are radically different from domestic and European ones.
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are rapidly redeveloping themselves after COVID-19. According to McKinsey, in the Asia-Pacific region, the total number of cases and deaths from coronavirus was less than in other parts of the world. Moreover, South Asian countries want to recover their economy to an annual growth rate of 5% in the coming months.
Therefore, many entrepreneurs have changed their plans and are moving their business from Europe to the Asia-Pacific countries.
What are the individualities of business localisation in the Asia-Pacific region?
Heterogeneous consumer behaviour
The population of each of the 48 countries has its own idea of goods and advertising. For example, Filipinos are more likely to trust product video reviews, while Malaysians are more likely to listen to influencers.
Fragmentation of the payment market
While in Europe you can easily use PayPal or Revolut cards, in Asia, there is no single payment system between several countries. Moreover, Bank cards are not the most popular payment method in many countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
For example, in Indonesia, virtual accounts are the most common, and in Thailand, cash transfers are carried out through the major networks like Big C and Tesco.
A ban on certain types of activities
Laws in the Asia-Pacific region may differ greatly from each other. In China, for example, gambling is completely forbidden, in Australia and the Philippines, however, it is strictly the opposite. For "a place in the sun" you will have to compete with local casinos and bookmakers!
Industries showing growth
Even before the pandemic, eSports were very popular in the Asia-Pacific region, and since February 2020, the demand for mobile games is actively growing in China and Southeast Asian countries.
Distance learning is an area that has demonstrated its potential in a period of isolation. Now the valuation of Asian EdTech has increased to $5 trillion. The digital technology market is also showing a growing trend: it is projected to grow to $133 billion within four years.
What specific features do individual countries have
The eCommerce industry in China has the potential to grow by at least 15-20%, this is due to the fact that a third of the population does not have constant access to the Internet. Currently, the volume of online shopping in a country with a population of 1 billion people is $1.2 trillion annually.
The Chinese consumer likes bright and "rich" user interfaces. Whereas European users like a clean interface, Chinese like to see multiple buttons and the colour red. For localisation in the Chinese market these are must-have features, and are essential to appealing to this region.
The most popular products and services. China is the Asian cradle of eSports. In 2019, the country accounted for 19% of global earnings in the industry. Food delivery services are also popular.
Currently, 273 million Indonesians spend around $20.3 billion on online purchases throughout the year. At the same time, 50% of the population is under 30 years old and actively uses smartphones, so the prospects are obvious.
eCommerce outside of Jakarta is still poorly developed mostly due to difficulties in logistics. Also, Indonesians prefer local products and brands to foreign ones: they believe that national manufacturers understand their needs better and take better care of their customers.
However, foreign companies also have every chance of success. It is critical for them to make a complete localisation of the website and payment scenario to win the love and trust of the local population.
The most popular products and services. Indonesians often use ride-hailing services (ordering rides through a web browser or app) and food delivery services.
Many payment transactions are made through virtual bank accounts. ATM cards and cash payments via the Alfamart supermarket are also popular.
In Malaysia, more than 80% of the population uses the Internet. Residents of the country spend more than $6 billion annually on online shopping — more than in the Philippines and Thailand.
For Malaysians, opinion leaders on social media are the main authority and incentive to buy. For this reason, companies invest more than 50% of their budget in SMM promotion of their products.
The most popular products and services. Malaysians are willing to spend the most on food delivery and entertainment — for example, on buying tickets to movies or amusement parks.
About 46% are mobile payments from local e-wallets and only 29% are Bank cards.
In the Philippines, 75% of the population (81 million people) uses online shopping services. The country is the third fastest-growing market in the world. Its residents, on average, spend about $3.7 billion on online purchases during the year.
The local government also actively accepts foreign investment for the development of science and technology.
Filipinos tend to succumb to video advertising. A video review of a product or service is more likely to encourage them to purchase the product than banner ads or aggressive targeting on social networks.
The most popular products and services. Video gaming is widespread throughout the country. At the same time, 86% of Filipinos are willing to pay extra for products and services from socially responsible companies that care about public health and the environment.
In Thailand, broadband Internet and 5G networks work well even in rural areas. The volume of online purchases in the country annually amounts to about $4.14 billion.
Most often, Thai residents buy through social networks. They need to stay in touch with customer support and receive prompt responses from it. The most popular products and services. Most often, Thai residents order food and goods for their Pets online.
Bank cards, cash transfer via supermarkets Big C and Tesco, online wallets TrueMoney, Line Pay and mPay, state QR-banking ThaiQR.
Due to the pandemic and US sanctions, many manufacturers have moved their production from China to Vietnam, so now the country's economy is actively growing.
At the moment, the total volume of online shopping in Vietnam is $2.2 billion. Now 25% of the country's population is under 14 years old, but already actively uses smartphones. This means that interest in eCommerce will only grow in the coming years.
On the one hand, Vietnamese people are guided by recommendations from friends and relatives, TV ads and promotions in stores, and on the other hand, they are actively adapting to digital channels and social networks. On average, residents of the country spend from 3 to 5 hours a day on the Internet — among them are not only young people but also people over 40 years old.
The most popular products and services. Vietnam's esports market is considered the largest in Asia after the Chinese one. SaaS services are also popular.
Australia is considered one of the largest eCommerce markets with $28.6 billion in annual sales. 80% of the country's population (about 20.6 million people) make online purchases several times a week and actively use instalment purchases.
Australians treat online shopping cautiously and consciously. Any decision they usually make is based on an analysis of price (16.1% of residents) and quality (45.9% of residents).
Australians are used to buying foreign products, as domestic production does not always cover their needs. Older people are more loyal than younger consumers. 50% of young people, faced with a negative shopping experience, immediately switch to another brand.
The most popular products and services. In Australia, the demand for natural and organic products is growing every year — especially for fruits and vegetables. There is also a large second-hand market in the country: estimated at $44 billion. The desire to save money encourages the development of shared consumption and sharing services.
The population of New Zealand spends more on online shopping than residents of Thailand — $4.2 billion. At the same time, the population density of the island is 17 times lower — only 4.68 million people! It also has the lowest level of chargebacks in the Asia-Pacific region.
More than 50% of New Zealanders search for information about interesting products and services online: 76% of them use desktop computers for this purpose. Rural residents buy more online than urban residents, so companies may be interested in targeting their services by location. At the same time, 69% of new Zealanders pick up their purchases from the order pick-up points in person, and only 19% use courier delivery.
The most popular products and services. The coronavirus epidemic has doubled the volume of online shopping in New Zealand: now the most popular categories are clothing and beauty products. Analysts inside the country also predict an increase in demand for home appliances.
What to do if you decide to expand to several countries at the same time?
First of all, you will most likely have to find a localisation expert. The expert will adapt your product to specific regions and assign a sales scenario for each of them.
The monthly fees of a marketing Agency in Singapore range from $1000 to $5000 without taking into account the budget of the marketing campaign itself. The cost of freelance project work ranges from $5,000 to $10,000; hourly pay ranges from $50 to $200.
Even expansion within the same country will require several local payment methods for the convenience of the residents. At the same time, you will most likely get stuck in bureaucratic issues and spend 15-20% of your budget on a financial adviser. These services cost on average $2,000-$2,500.
Separate costs may also be incurred if the company wants to offer local acquiring: you will then need to register a legal entity and create a local branch of the company. If the business offers its customers alternative payment methods only, you will not have to register the company. Companies will also be able to avoid chargebacks, as they are not provided with alternative payment methods.
How to avoid wasting money?
Most of the costs can be avoided by using a single payment solution for countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Gate2Asia by ECOMMPAY was developed to solve these problems and make business expansion to the region easier: to use it, you do not need to create a company on the territory of one of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
Currently, the platform unites eight countries — China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand — and allows you to connect local payment methods through a single integration on the site (via the API or payment page). You can also choose to connect the solution for two or three countries or all eight, and also consult with the company's specialists beforehand to discuss which market is better to enter.
Gate2Asia aggregates funds on local accounts of alternative payment providers (for example, Alipay) on behalf of the online business, then the funds are exchanged for dollars and withdrawn to ECOMMPAY APAC accounts. From there, they are sent to the company's account. Security of the operations is provided by tokenization — data encryption through the generation of random character sets.
You can manage all operations remotely — no matter where you are: you can monitor the entire transaction flow and compile reports via a special client interface.
Also, Gate2Asia has experts who can not only develop brand positioning for a specific country but also help with choosing a more suitable region, based on the business direction and its goals.