Kuala Lumpur (18 July 2014) — Google released new research that showed the web has changed the way that consumers in Malaysia and across South East Asia shop — a major opportunity for Malaysia’s retail industry to reach and influence shoppers online.
According to the study, many consumers who have yet to try online shopping will start soon. For example, two out of five (43%) of Malaysians who have never shopped online expect that they will start in the next 12 months. This closely matches the rest of the region: the Philippines reported lowest at 40% and the highest figure is from Indonesia with 46% indicating they intend to switch to online shopping within a year.
When these new online shoppers get onto the web, what will they buy? Roughly half of Malaysians said that the first item they will purchase will be clothing. Malaysia’s percentage is higher than all the other countries in the survey, with the lowest reported number coming from Singapore at 31%. Overall, South East Asia looks like a great place to run an online clothes store, with this survey revealing that apparel is by far the most popular online shopping — for example, clothes are bought nearly three times as often as mobile phones or books.
The study reveals a snapshot of how consumers in Malaysia and across the region think about the way they shop, their concerns and what makes them more or less likely to buy online. Perhaps surprisingly, price is shown not to be the most important aspect of the online shopping experience. When Malaysians were asked what was the single more important factor in shopping online “saving time” was mentioned as often as “price”. This trend was repeated with shoppers across all countries surveyed except Singapore.
The survey not only looked at what shoppers did on ecommerce sites, them but also investigated how shoppers use the web in general. The survey showed online ads drive direct action and trigger research— 72% of Malaysians took direct action from ads. The only survey response that was higher than Malaysia’s figure was Indonesia at 79%. In all countries search and social commanded the most attention.
Despite all the enthusiasm for shopping online, some obstacles remain. Concerns about security was the strongest barrier to online shopping with almost half of Malaysians reported being “worried about the security of my financial details online.” If online shops are going to flourish, retail sites need to overcome this hurdle and earn the trust of consumers. On a lighter note, the survey also showed that sometimes nothing beats the experience of physically going to a store. Two out of five Malaysians worried about missing out on the thrill of the haggle, concerned about not being able to bargain online.
The survey also asked retailers what they thought about the online shopping experience. Sellers in Malaysia, much like their regional counterparts, don’t expect to get the highest prices online, but they appreciate the chance to reach a large audience of consumers. Almost two out of three of Malaysian sellers said that their number one reason for selling online was the sheer volume of consumers.
The web has changed the way we shop, and this research suggests that the next twelve months will be an exciting time for online retailers as more and more consumers come online, looking for bargains as well as a fast, secure and convenient service.
About this research
In partnership with TNS Research, Google conducted research into online shopping behaviors in five SEA markets (ID, MY, PH, SG, TH). We spoke to 1000+ males and females aged 1660 years old using an Online survey lasting approximately 25mins.