Chasing the China benchmark
Even pre-COVID-19, China was leading Asia-Pacific in digital commerce innovation, with its strong governmental support, low-cost mobile phones and vast population of tech-savvy users eager to quickly adopt the next new technology.
Businesses in other Asia-Pacific regions are moving in the same direction, concentrating on fast market entry, fast user uptake and rapid adoption of technology.
The practice of leapfrogging such as going straight to wireless rather than cabling up an entire country is now a common phenomenon in Asia-Pacific. Malaysia for instance has a significantly higher penetration rate of mobile phones compared to landlines. Indonesia has also leapfrogged straight to wireless communications.
In Southeast Asia, government efforts to promote digital transformation, including investment in wireless networks, are having the effect of boosting e-commerce growth.
However, when it comes to fast adoption of digital technology, e-commerce companies in China also leverage inorganic growth, through investment in startups, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and alliances between competitive platforms. Furthermore, major Chinese e-commerce companies also invest heavily in research and development (R&D). Southeast Asian markets and others would benefit from embracing these strategies too.
Thriving in a world where disruption is a fact of life
How the shifts in consumer behavior will develop going forward is still unclear, but it opens up a world of possibility for new behaviors and needs.
According to EY Capital Confidence Barometer (CCB), 68% of retail companies are prioritizing new investments in essential digital and technology: augmented reality/ virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain and internet of things. During this critical period when consumers are open to trying new brands, there is a significant first mover advantage.