Markets with Biggest Cross-Border Sales in South East Asia

South East Asia is a region with one of the highest economic growth rates – especially when it comes to eCommerce. This is the reason companies from all over the world have their eye on the region, looking for the opportunities to take part in this extraordinary expansion. And, there are indeed a number of industries where cross-border eCommerce is thriving, generating a significant share of sales. In this article we will use recent sales data of online sales marketplace to point out some of such industries.

Note that there are different ways foreign brands can be sold in South Asia countries. In this article by “cross-border” we will generally mean items that are not physically in the country at the moment of purchase, as opposed to “bonded warehouses”, “special trade zones” and other methods that can be used for selling of foreign goods that rely on importing goods in the country and subsequent sales.

Indonesia

Let’s start with Indonesia – the country that is least friendly to cross-border eCommerce. For most of the product categories the seller has to be a local entity and products have to be physically in the country. As a result, in virtually all major categories the share of cross-border sales is below 1% level (and also below margin of error), except one: Fashion accessories.

In fashion accessories the share of cross-border revenue reaches 5% – not too much to write about compared to other countries, but definitely an outlier within other Indonesian sales. Majority of foreign-originated items are jewelry/bijouterie: rings, necklaces, bracelets and so on.

Thailand

Like Indonesia, Thailand’s online marketplace is not too friendly for cross-border sales, the share of such sales is estimated to be around 2%. Most of them happen in the apparel and accessories segment, where the share is as high as 6%.

Relatively big share of cross-border sales can be seen in such categories as watches (17%), closely followed by another segment – women’s shoes (15%). Much lower, but still high compared to other segments, are numbers for men’s clothes (8%) and bags (7%).

Vietnam

Vietnam’s cross-border regulation is much more welcoming in recent years, compared to that of Indonesia or Thailand. As a result, the overall share of cross-border sales started to grow, reaching about 4% of overall online sales.

This growth affected all sorts of segments: from jewelry and accessories (where the share is the highest – up to 30%), to other apparel-related categories like bags (10%), shoes (5%), clothes (4%), watches (4%). Notable cross-border items can be found in all sorts of segments: consumer electronics (9%), books (10%), beauty (7%), toys (7%), goods for pets (9%) and so on.

Philippines

The Philippines market is quite open for cross-border commerce – from both taxes and legal perspectives, although tax procedures and policies still can be somewhat of a speed bump. The overall share of cross-border sales is at around 5%.

In some of the segments the share of cross border is quite significant: 37% for women’s accessories, 23% for perfume and makeup, 16% for men’s accessories. It is also high in other areas such as mobile accessories (15%), audio (12%), toys and hobbies (8%).

Malaysia

The share for cross-border sales in Malaysia is second highest, only behind Singapore. Almost all product categories have 2-3% of items, which sales are generated by cross-border eCommerce, but there are a few where this number is even higher. Apparel and fashion goods have about a 12% chance of being sold cross-border, that includes 27% for accessories and jewelry, 18% for watches, 15% for women’s clothes.
Other categories include games/hobbies/toys – 25% and sports-related goods (13%).

Singapore

Singapore is by far ahead of all other South East countries, when it comes to cross-border e Commerce 20% of all sales are made through this model.

In some categories cross border constitutes the majority of sales: jewelry (90%), apparel and fashion (50-70%). In many others it takes a very notable part: 38% in home and living category, 33% in beauty, 30% in hobby and sports.

(Source: TMO Group)