Staff Reporters
Aug 10, 2021

Ecommerce goes mainstream in APAC: Reprise

A study conducted across 13 markets in the region reveals key changes in online shopping patterns in the region.

Ecommerce goes mainstream in APAC: Reprise

Accelerated by covid, online shopping across Asia-Pacific looks set to shift from a pandemic necessity to a permanent shift in retail consumption, according to a new study by Reprise. In the region, regular ‘a few times a month’ online shoppers are now outpacing their offline counterparts by 42% vs 31% and  Those who shop online ‘once every few months’ leapfrog offline shoppers by 66%.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with Google during the first half of 2021, interviewed 13,000 shoppers (1,000 per market), across Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam. While some findings are predictable--consumers hunt aggressively for deals online--other findings are surprising. For example, Pandemic restrictions haven’t dampened consumers desire to look and feel good: the top 3 most shopped categories online in APAC over the last six months were; Clothing and Apparel (67%), Health & Beauty (47%), and Consumer Electronics (40%).

“Many markets in APAC have leapfrogged as much as 5 times, already meeting projections for 2025," says Ritika Gupta, ecommerce director Reprise APAC, and author of the report. This eCommerce acceleration is partly led by platforms who have fast forwarded their interface roadmaps and advanced their technology. This, along with audience targeting via in-platform ads have played a significant role.”

Marketers and agencies will be heartened to know that half the respondents to the survey stated that they look to online ads to discover new brands and products when purchasing online. Social media is now the top point of research for 42% of APAC shoppers. 

Despite this rapid growth of ecommerce in the region, the approach to online shopping has some nuances here. "APAC demonstrates again that there are fundamental differences in behaviour by market, and when it comes to eCommerce – brands that embrace a local first approach are the ones that are likely to see the most success," says Pippa Berlocher, president, Reprise APAC

Here are how some markets have fared: 


  • When it comes to in-store shopping, 63% of China shoppers shop ‘anytime’ and don’t wait for sales and promotions. Whereas 52% of online shoppers wait for sales season to make their purchases.
  • The top 3 triggers for online purchases are ‘good reviews,’ ‘product information,’ and ‘good star ratings’ as voted by 71%, 64% and 58% of online shoppers respectively.
  • China online shoppers are loyal to their needs and not specifically to brands. 75% shoppers say that they are willing to buy new brands that they see online.


  • Consumer reviews about a product, are perceived to be the biggest advantage by 64% of online shoppers in India
  • Marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon have ranked higher for product discovery across all categories in the last 12 months.
  • TV ads are still considered to be significant channel, 64% of online shoppers in India refer to television advertisements for discovering new products.
  • ‘Time saving’ and ‘don’t have to go to the store’ are perceived as the two biggest advantages by 61% of online shoppers in Japan.
  • While the giants battle for the title of platform leader, both Amazon and Rakuten have ranked high for product discovery across all product categories in the last 12 months.
  • Online retailers are considered to be the top point of research when considering buying a new product in Japan. Shoppers are twice more likely to choose this channel.


  • Unlike rest of APAC, in Australia marketplaces are not the main online shopping destination--two thirds of shoppers prefer brands’ websites 
  • Shipping fees are a deterrent for two-third of Australian respondents
  • Marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have ranked higher for product discovery across all categories in the last 12 months. 61% of online shoppers used eBay and 52% of them used Amazon for discovering new products.


  • Nearly three-quarters of consumers here prefer marketplaces to brands’ website for making online purchases.
  • Frictionless ecommerce becomes difficult in Indonesia, given the vastness of the country, with as many as 60% of shoppers considering ‘shipping time’ one of the main disadvantages of online shopping.
  • Half of Indonesians surveyed refer to social media platforms to research brands and products

The Philippines 

  • Philippines is one market which has not kept up with the ecommerce juggernaut compared to neighbouring countries in the region.
  • Two out of three Philippine shoppers will try new brands they find online, and 57% online shoppers also wait for products to go on promotion or discount before hitting the payment button.
  • In terms of friction, 65% online shoppers feel that returning a product is very difficult when shopping online.
Campaign Asia

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