Search remains the most popular way of discovering new brands throughout the majority of APAC, with China being the major exception to this, according to a new report from Rakuten Marketing.

In China, family and friend recommendations scored the highest (68%) and search was in fact the least popular method of discovery. Malaysia was the number one country in the region to engage influencer marketing (21%) and social media (65%) for discovery, while Australian consumers also discover new brands via deal and coupon sites (15%) and cashback and reward sites (9%).

The 2019 State of E-Commerce Asia-Pacific report, now in its second year, delves into the online shopping behaviours and preferences of 500 consumers in each of the nine key markets within APAC (China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand with Japan and India added this year).

Some key findings from the report:

China leads, Australia lags

China leads the APAC e-commerce market in terms of participation with an impressive 61% of consumers shopping online whilst New Zealand and Japan lag significantly behind at 33% and 34% respectively. Australia trails in terms of total retail shopping transacted online: at just 36% that is considerably lower than the average 47% seen throughout the rest of APAC, based on Rakuten's sample.

Shipping costs hinder shopping

High shipping costs were found to be the key contributor holding consumers back from online shopping in most APAC countries, particularly Japan (62%), New Zealand (50%), Malaysia (57%) and Singapore (57%). Two outliers were identified in South Korea and China, where ability to return items is the largest prohibitor (39% and 49% respectively).

Local for groceries, global for luxuries

Groceries & Household Goods is the category where most APAC shoppers are spending, and overwhelmingly these purchases are of domestic brands. When APAC consumers do purchase from international brands, they’re most likely to buy from the Luxury Goods, Beauty Products and Watches & Accessories categories.

The number one e-commerce purchase in South Korea, China and Japan is on groceries. Most online purchases in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong were found to be on travel; Contrary to the rest of the region, Malaysians spend the most on beauty and Indians on electronics.

Overall, shoppers in Hong Kong and Singapore show a stronger preference to shop internationally while shoppers in Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and Japan show an overall stronger preference to shop domestically.

Facebook is popular for brand engagement

Once connected with a brand, consumers indicated that they engage with brands predominantly through Facebook in Australia (28.5%), Singapore (33%), Malaysia (61%) and India (56%), whereas email reigned in Japan (26%) and New Zealand (35%).

Local apps such as WeChat, Weibo and Kakao Talk were found to be the most popular way of interacting with brands in China, Hong Kong and Korea.

Sourced from Rakuten Marketing