M-commerce: Singapore behind the SEA curve in shopping

  • Thailand the leader, Malaysia fastest growing, Philippines lagging
  • Shoppers spurred by convenience, on-the-go mobility and availability of apps
M-commerce: Singapore behind the SEA curve in shopping

SINGAPORE mobile Internet users trailed behind their South-East Asian neighbours – including Vietnam – when it came to making a mobile shopping purchase in 2014, with only the Philippines faring worse, according to a MasterCard Mobile Shopping Survey.
Only a third of respondents in Singapore with mobile Internet access made a mobile shopping purchase in 2014 (36.7%), up from the 31.4% in 2013, MasterCard said in a statement.
But the Singapore 2014 numbers are still below other South-East Asian nations, with Thailand recording 58.8%, followed by Indonesia (54.9%), Malaysia (45.6%), Vietnam (45.2%) and finally, the Philippines at 34%.
The MasterCard Mobile Shopping Survey results are based on interviews that took place between October and December 2014, with a minimum of 500 people aged 18-64, in each of the 14 markets surveyed.
The prevalence of mobile shopping apps (30.8%) emerged as one of the top three reasons why Singapore residents shop on their mobile devices, alongside convenience (51%) and on-the-go mobility (44.3%), MasterCard said.
This finding is in line with the region, where nearly half of the respondents across Asia Pacific (49.5%) cited convenience as the most compelling reason for smartphone shopping.
Two-thirds of Asia Pacific respondents also cited similar motivating factors including the ability to shop even while on the move (43.9%) and the growing availability of apps that make it easy to shop online (39.5%).
The top three items bought through mobile phones in Singapore have remained unchanged for the past three years (2012-2014), MasterCard said in its statement.
In order of ranking for 2014, they are: Clothing and fashion accessories; coupons from deal sites; and movie tickets.
Mobile purchases of coupons from deal sites dipped slightly in 2014 compared with the previous two years when these had been the top purchase.
In addition to using their mobile phones to make purchases, savvy shoppers in the region are also using them to compare prices between physical and online stores. The instant connectivity that the mobile phone affords enables consumers to immediately obtain information to get the best available deal, be it online or offline.
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Close to half (44.5%) of the respondents surveyed (or interviewed) have conducted price comparisons between online and offline retailers, with a similar proportion (44.2%) also stating that they have conducted research online prior to making a purchase in-store.
Furthermore, a third of Singapore shoppers also reach for their mobile phones to conduct research and price comparisons while at the brick-and-mortar store itself to validate their purchase decision (31.9%).
Close to a quarter (22.5%) of respondents also indicated that they avoided certain stores and restaurants because of bad reviews they saw online.
In a strong sign of digital convergence and how mainstream online shopping has become, the survey found that 32% feel that online shopping is the same as shopping in physical stores, with 50% revealing that shopping online is ‘essential.’
The entire online shopping experience has also been made simpler and more secure with the introduction of digital payment platforms.
“What consumers value the most are convenience, on-the-go mobility and ease of use,” said MasterCard Singapore group head and general manager Deborah Heng.
“Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers seeking to expand online would be well-placed to capture the e-commerce pie if they develop an online interface optimised for both desktop and mobile.
“This ensures a seamless online shopping experience from browsing to payments, so that shoppers do not abandon their shopping cart due to difficulties at checkout such as page loading errors and difficulties in making payment,” she added.

M-commerce: Singapore behind the SEA curve in shopping

Detailed findings:

  • Overall, consumers from China (70.1%), India (62.9%) and Taiwan (62.6%) are the most likely to shop using their smartphones.
  • In terms of the biggest growth in mobile shopping, Taiwan and India lead the region with the number of people shopping on smartphones more than doubling over two years – Taiwan went from 28.2% in 2012 to 62.6% in 2014 while India went from 30.3% in 2012 to 62.9% in 2014.
  • Malaysia also recorded significant growth – up from 25.4% in 2012 to 45.6% in 2014.
  • Nearly half of the respondents across Asia Pacific (49.5%) cited convenience as the most compelling reason for shopping on their smartphone. Other motivating factors include the ability to shop on the go (43.9%) and the growing availability of apps that make it easy to shop online (39.5%).
  • The most popular mobile shopping purchases amongst Asia Pacific shoppers include clothing and accessories (27.9%), followed by apps (21.2%) and daily deal coupons (19.2%). More than one-third of Chinese (37.4%) and Korean (36.0%) consumers shop for clothing and accessories on their smartphone. Meanwhile, apps top the list of items Thai (33.8%) and Vietnamese (31.8%) shoppers purchased using smartphones.
  • Asia Pacific consumers are also adopting new mobile technologies, with 27.9% of respondents saying that they use mobile banking apps. Group buying apps (40.3%) and digital wallets (28.5%) are the most popular amongst Chinese consumers.

Related Stories:
Smartphone shopping trend sweeps Asia Pacific: MasterCard survey
Mobile shopping beginning to mature: BuzzCity
Indonesians and Malaysians take to ‘social shopping’ in a big way
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