About 49% of shoppers in APAC now hesitant to shop in-store: report


Singapore – Despite many countries worldwide easing up on normal life disrupted by the global pandemic, there is still a large fraction of shoppers worldwide who now hesitate to shop in-store, a new report from Wunderman Thompson Commerce shows.

According to the report, 49% of APAC shoppers are now hesitant to shop in physical stores, suggesting a transition to shop through online channels.

Looking at specific markets, nearly three quarters (72%) of shoppers in India are experiencing this fear, followed by Thailand (62%), China (55%) and Indonesia (51%) – while Japan and Australia are more open to the idea (30% and 22% respectively).

Meanwhile, on a global scale, nearly three-quarters of shoppers say that online shopping came to their rescue in 2020, with Thailand at the top of the global ranking having 94% of consumers agreeing to the sentiment. Looking ahead, three-quarters of global shoppers (73%) say e-commerce would be more important to them in 2021.

In terms of frequency of shopping online, marketplaces other than Amazon account for a third (33%) of all purchases, led by Japan at 45% and Thailand coming in at 41%. 

It has been noted in the report that Amazon’s reputation on pricing is comparatively poor in Asia – just 20% of shoppers say it provides the best value, compared to 48% who identify the other marketplaces as being best: e-commerce platforms Tmall, Taobao, and Lazada.

“As we look beyond 2021, we know this channel shift from physical to digital channels is not only accelerating but will be the primary channel for retail purchasing in future. We see consumers turn to local and regional marketplaces as they take on global players like Amazon, an abundance of businesses switching to D2C offerings, and Asian consumers leading the way when engaging in new channels such as social and live commerce,” said Kaythaya Maw, chief technology officer at Wunderman Thompson APAC.

Despite these moves towards online shopping channels, there still remains hope for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands handled by retailers. Over one quarter (29%) of shoppers in China said they have used branded direct-to-consumer sites as a source of inspiration, putting the channel third behind dominant marketplaces like Taobao and Tmall, and social media.

Nevertheless, the demand within these online retailers are surging, as APAC shoppers now demand the most from digital retailers, saying they want better products, services, and experiences online, with Thailand shoppers agreeing with the statement at 94.8%, closely followed by China and Indonesia at 89% and India at 86%.

A big finding from this year’s survey is that 44% of all global consumers the report spoke to say they have bought from a social platform. In Asia, buying directly through social media is already clearly a well-established trend, led by Thailand where 74% of consumers said they had purchased from a social platform, followed by Indonesia and China at 69%. 

Speaking about the insights, Justin Peyton, chief transformation and strategy officer at Wunderman Thompson APAC, notes that with the heightened interest in online shopping, one should refrain from the use of the term ‘e-commerce’ since the term online shopping has now expanded beyond the borders of e-commerce platforms.

He added that with the growth of sales that we have seen in the recent past, and the fact that it is becoming the channel of choice, digital transactions have become a hygiene element that brands are expected to support as part of the overall commerce ecosystem.

“What’s more interesting is how commerce is fragmented across owned platforms, social platforms, conversational platforms, and marketplaces. With this diversity, brands must focus on where they can not only gain visibility but demonstrate their products in ways that are most likely to influence consumer choice,” Peyton stated.

Meanwhile, Maw added, “With the largest representation from Asia-Pacific taking part in this year’s report, we hope to provide businesses with vital insights to formulate effective strategies and respond to how consumers are shopping in this current environment, and how they will shop in future.”

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