What Southeast Asian Cons...

What Southeast Asian Consumers Want This Peak Season

Nov 29, 2022
What Southeast Asian Consumers Want This Peak Season
  • The majority of customers in Southeast Asia (SEA), especially those in Thailand and Vietnam, still prefer a combination of physical and online shopping.

  • Most SEA customers can wait up to 3 or 4 days after the estimated delivery date during peak season.

  • Product price is the most important factor affecting purchasing decisions in SEA, followed by product quality and customer reviews and ratings.

  • 70% of Singaporeans revealed that bad customer service, more than any other factor, would turn them away from an online store.

The last quarter of every year is often the busiest for retailers and shoppers alike in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. After all, this period contains some of the most widely celebrated holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

For the purpose of the article, we have partnered with Rakuten Insight Global to take a closer look at consumer preferences this peak season. Where are Southeast Asian consumers planning to shop this holiday season? What are the top factors influencing where they shop from? Let’s find out!

For more insightful findings from the survey, download the full chart below (exclusive to Parcel Monitor members). 

Most SEA Customers Shop Both On and Off the Internet

With nearly $90 billion worth of sales in 2022, up from $74 billion in the previous year, Southeast Asia's online shopping has grown at one of the fastest rates in the world. This is due to several factors ranging from the region's robust population of about 600 million to the great popularity of internet use among its mostly young populace. 

Indeed, e-commerce has become an indispensable factor for Southeast Asian consumers. This is evidenced by Rakuten Insight's findings that less than 14% of buyers in the various countries of the region planned to buy solely from physical shops.

Meanwhile, the majority of customers still prefer a combination of physical and internet shopping. This is the case mostly with Thai and Vietnamese consumers among whom over 70% indicated a willingness to patronize both modes of trading. In Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, over 65% of consumers fall into this category.

Having said that, a significant chunk of Southeast Asian buyers prefer to buy only on the internet. With 41% of its consumers opting for the "e-commerce only" option, Indonesia leads the way in this category. Malaysia comes next with 26%. Singapore and Vietnam are tied in this regard at 24%.

Shopping on E-commerce Marketplaces Is Popular Among Southeast Asian Consumers

In Southeast Asia, e-commerce sites are very popular with over 450 million customers visiting Shopee, the region's biggest e-commerce site every month. Rakuten Insight’s survey shows that most buyers in the region intend to do their holiday shopping on e-commerce marketplaces this peak season. 

In Indonesia, for instance, 98% of respondents stated that they wish to buy on e-commerce marketplaces. As of the other five surveyed countries, over 85% opted for the e-commerce marketplace except for the Philippines in which only 64% did so.

There are several factors that explain the consumers' preference for e-commerce marketplaces. First and foremost, unlike retailer websites which focus on selling products from only a specific company or brand, e-commerce platforms offer buyers the choice of buying a wide variety of goods from different manufacturers. 

These marketplaces are owned by "marketplace administrators" such as Wish who allow different companies to advertise their goods on their platform and earn commissions on every sale made on their site. Furthermore, several e-commerce sites regularly provide competitive customer loyalty campaigns and discount programs, especially in the peak season.

Interestingly, although social media sites such as Instagram and TikTok are used primarily for social networking and communication, they have also emerged as significant shopping destinations in Southeast Asia. In the Philippines for example, slightly more than half of the respondents indicated that they would shop on social media this peak season.

SEA Customers Can Wait Up to 3 or 4 Days After the Estimated Delivery Date During Peak Season

Many people order seasonal gifts for their friends and loved ones during holidays. This means that it is vital to them for the goods to arrive within the expected time range. Most respondents from the area state that they would not consider more than 3-4 days of delay post-estimated delivery date acceptable. This view is most prevalent among Thai shoppers (55%). Among the other countries in the survey, 42% to 48% of respondents hold the same view. 

A fewer but significant portion of surveyees wants their goods to arrive at most, 2 days after the estimated delivery date.  Vietnamese and Indonesian customers belong to this category with 38% and 36% of surveyees in those countries stating that they would not find a delivery made more than two days late acceptable. 

Only under 10% of respondents in all the countries surveyed would accept a delay period of over one week. These statistics are indicative of the increased customer expectations about parcel delivery in a region in which logistics continues to develop and improve rapidly.

Product Price Is the Most Important Factor Affecting Where SEA Customers Shop From

Throughout the year, there is a range of factors that determine which e-commerce stores customers choose to do their shopping on. These factors include customer reviews and ratings sourced from product review sites, availability of free returns, and the provision of a wide range of shipping options and payment methods. 

Based on Rakuten Insight’s survey results, 38% of Southeast Asia's digital consumers are most drawn to online stores that offer products at the most favorable prices. For 29%, the quality of the product on offer is of prior importance. 26% of respondents from all countries under the survey claim that customer reviews are the most vital consideration they make before choosing an e-commerce company to shop from. 

Good Customer Service and Quick Shipping Times Are Vital for Customer Retention 

Shoppers are constantly on the lookout for "red flags" or signs that an e-commerce service provider cannot be trusted to offer top-notch services. Some of the common problems that scare away customers include a non-transparent delivery process, and friction during checkouts among others.

According to Rakuten Insight, most Southeast Asian shoppers listed bad customer service and long shipping lines as the factors that would make them change their preferred e-commerce service provider. More specifically speaking, 70% of Singaporeans revealed that bad customer service, more than any other factor, would turn them away from an online store. 69% of respondents from Malaysia felt the same way, as did 64% and 59% in Indonesia and Vietnam respectively. 

Due to delivery innovations in Southeast Asian logistics companies, more consumers in the region are starting to expect quick shipping times. In particular, 62% of respondents in Malaysia and 61% of those in the Philippines consider long shipping times to be the most intolerable part of shopping online.

Wrapping Up

Today, as e-commerce trading continues to grow in popularity in Southeast Asia, the peak season has remained an important season for online shoppers. Having a knowledge of the factors that determine consumer choices will give online retailers and e-commerce professionals the edge over their competition and allow them to formulate effective business strategies.


This survey was conducted by Rakuten Insight in the month of October 2022. There were a total of 6 questions, each of which revealed important information on consumer behavior associated with peak season shopping. The team distributed the questionnaire to 45512 shoppers across 7 different markets: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States. The sample consisted of 66% females and 34% males. 

About Rakuten Insight Global 

As Asia’s trusted research partner, Rakuten Insight Global has remained at the forefront of consumer market research data collection in the region for over 25 years. 

Our online panels have been developed throughout 12 major Asian markets & the US, all of which are managed by dedicated local support teams and meet the highest standard of the industry. The team at Rakuten Insight Global offers 24-hour coverage from 11 worldwide locations, providing exceptional service for our over 500 clients across the globe. 

Rakuten Insight Global is tasked with leveraging the membership assets of Rakuten Group for market research purposes. Having access to such a diverse and unique group of research participants allows Rakuten Insight Global to remain at the forefront of online research in the region.

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