Rahul Sachitanand
Sep 11, 2020

Online platforms face growing consumer discontent in Southeast Asia

TOP OF THE CHARTS: Over a third of Asean consumers are unhappy with their digital commerce experience, despite a spike in online spending during the pandemic, according to a report from Blackbox Research and Toluna.

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

While the COVID-19 pandemic has driven consumers indoors, it has also compelled them to spend more time online. Several months into managing their new lives, consumers are getting to grips, but according to a report from Blackbox Research and Toluna, some of the early charm may be wearing off, as consumers begin to chafe at underwhelming customer experience. 

This research shows that over a third of consumers in ASEAN are less than satisfied with their digital commerce experience, citing concerns about delivery costs and services, product reliability and the authenticity of in-app reviews. 


While consumers across the region mostly have access to the same online services, consumer satisfaction varies from country to country. Indonesia (54%) and Malaysia (57%) recorded the lowest satisfaction levels in the region when it comes to online experiences. Even in Thailand and the Philippines, which recorded the highest satisfaction scores, close to a third were less than satisfied (30% and 33%, respectively). Meanwhile, a considerable fraction of consumers in Vietnam (38%) and Singapore (39%) are also disgruntled. 


The findings suggest that that while major ecommerce brands Shopee, Lazada and Grab enjoy strong market share in the region, they are also getting greater scrutiny from consumers. Yashan Cama, international commercial director of Blackbox Research, contends that consumer frustrations about service quality could become make-or-break issues for ecommerce brands.


“We expect some of these cornerstone brands to experience a shake-up in the coming months if these existing problems are not quickly addressed," he says. "as more shoppers move online, their expectations of the online retail experience have evolved, and this is where eCommerce players must step up their game."


Upping customer experience is likely to be a key strategy for these online platforms, as the pandemic-driven shift online could become a permanent move. “Consumers are not rushing back to their old habits, so this new sense of life revolving around the home hub means companies need to rethink how they build this into the consumer experience in future," Cama adds. "The home really has emerged as a new headquarters for many people."

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