Rahul Sachitanand
Oct 19, 2020

Pandemic-driven changes easy to see in SEA online-purchase data: Research

A new report compiled by iPrice, SimilarWeb and App Annie shows a sharp shift towards essentials, as traffic to fashion, electronics and beauty and cosmetics dives.

Pandemic-driven changes easy to see in SEA online-purchase data: Research

With Covid-19 impacting consumers’ behaviors and accelerating digitalisation, Southeast Asia's ecommerce industry has seen major shifts in the past six months, new research from price comparison and product aggregating website iPrice Group, SimilarWeb and App Annie has showed.

In the Southeast Asian Map of E-commerce Report for Q2 / 2020, web traffic to online department stores increased in most markets.Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore saw increases up to 18% above the second half of 2019. In contrast, fashion websites took a hit, with average traffic decreasing in all six countries surveyed.


Thailand’s fashion websites performed the worst on average, with a 62% drop in H1 of 2020 compared with H2 of 2019. The second quarter of 2020 also witnessed the closing down of Sorabel, an Indonesian fashion startup. A similar decline is seen in Malaysia for electronics websites (down 35% in traffic) and in Indonesia for beauty websites (down 26%).

Demands for non-essential items such as fashion, cosmetics, and smartphones slowed down significantly, while demand for essentials such as groceries and health supplements shot up. This show up clearly in data on orders made through iPrice’s shopping portals.


In H1 of 2020, average order values for electronics and fashion increased by only 18% and 11% year-over-year. Meanwhile, average order values for health and home and living products increased by 25% and 26%, respectively. In Q2, ecommerce players across the region have identified grocery and health supplements as important product categories going forward.

Almost all major ecommerce marketplaces had multiple sales campaigns to promote health supplements and grocery items. Some are also investing in logistics to assure these essentials get to consumers. In April, Lazada expanded its fresh produce category to Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Then in May, Vietnamese company Tiki introduced TikiNGON, a service to deliver groceries in three hours.

With more people staying at home, there is an increase of demand for online entertainment, which presents an opportunity for shopping apps to engage with people. In Q2, according to the report, the total number of sessions on shopping applications in Southeast Asia reached 65.1 billion, an increase of 39% compared to the previous quarter.

Leading this jump in usage were the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam with increases of 53%, 50%, and 43%, respectively. Meanwhile, Indonesia leads the region in absolute number with 28.5 billion sessions in Q2 alone.


People aren't just spending more time online, they seem to be spending more too. According to the report, average basket size across the region increased by 23% year-over-year in the first half of 2020, reaching $28.50 per order. The Philippines and Singapore show the biggest improvements at 57% and 51%, respectively.

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