How Did the Pandemic Affect Southeast Asia’s Online Shopping Behavior in 2020?

Image credit: PhotoMIX Company, Pexels

According to the Map of E-commerce Year End Report 2020 from iPrice Group, SimilarWeb, and AppsFlyer the Southeast Asian e-commerce industry has seen significant growth due to the pandemic.

The e-commerce industry in the six largest Southeast Asian markets, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, is set to continue growing and will likely reach US$172 billion in value in 2025.

The report uncovered 3 major changes:

  1. The E-commerce Industries that Gained the Most Traffic
  2. Southeast Asians’ Average Spending Increased by 19%
  3. Motivation for Southeast Asians to Install & Uninstall Shopping Apps

Which E-commerce Industries Gained The Most Visits

2020 has signified strong customer confidence in e-commerce retail despite mobility restrictions and mounting concerns over the global pandemic.

The report reveals that the overall website traffic of online shopping platforms increased positively across all countries year-over-year. This can be seen most in Singapore, which experienced a surge of 35% compared to 2019, followed by the Philippines (21%), Vietnam (19%), Malaysia (17%), Thailand (15%), and Indonesia (6%).

Data also showed that online department stores’ web traffic experienced a 52% average increase from Q1 of 2020, perhaps a result of social distancing measures being enforced.

Nonetheless, some e-commerce sites’ web traffic has taken a beating due to the pandemic. Platforms that offer cosmetic products showed an average web traffic decrease of 35% from Q1 to Q4 2020. Meanwhile, fashion and electronics sites also experienced a slight decrease of 14% in traffic in the 6 aforementioned countries.


Covid-19 has broadened the online demand of Southeast Asian consumers for non-essential items such as fashion, electronics, health & beauty, and sports & outdoors.

Southeast Asians’ Average Spending Increased by 19%

Although fashion and electronics sites saw a slight decrease in web traffic, the average basket size for these categories significantly increased. Sports & outdoor products met the same fate as well.

iPrice Group’s platform found that consumers in Southeast Asia spent an overall average of $32 per order in 2020, which was 19% higher than 2019’s. Singapore and Malaysia saw the highest average basket size of $61 and $41 respectively in 2020.

What Drives Southeast Asians to Install & Uninstall Shopping Apps?

AppsFlyer & iPrice analyzed over 12.4 million installs and found that there was a 2% average increase of organic installs on iOS & Android’s shopping applications from January to June.

Among many things that led to users installing shopping applications were lockdown periods and online sales.

When lockdown measures were imposed in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore there was an uptick in downloads for different shopping apps. This also coincided with various online sales events such as Ramadhan.

Meanwhile, the Lunar New Year and Songkran festival also showed a surge of installations in Vietnam and Thailand from January to February.

E-commerce companies across the region have also rolled out other marketing campaigns that drew customers through gamification, free shipping, and discounts. Superstars such as Blackpink, Lee Min-ho, and Cristiano Ronaldo were utilized as brand ambassadors.

The study also recognized 6 out of 10 SEA users are still using mobile shopping apps as their primary channel.

However, data reported that there was an increasing rate of uninstallation in 5 countries. The countries with the highest average uninstallation rates were Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore with an increase of 49%, 47%, 41%, 37%, and 36% respectively.


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