Apprentices of SpaceX in China | a KrASIA documentary

Behind this year’s Singles Day sales in SEA, is the somehow unnoticed rise of Shopee

Shopee, started in 2015 as the e-commerce arm of NYSE-listed Sea Group, has had a phenomenal rise.

By

Behind this year’s Singles Day sales in SEA, is the somehow unnoticed rise of Shopee

China’s Alibaba just dropped the curtain on its annual extravaganza, setting yet another record in sales. The numbers all look good except for one thing, after nine consecutive years of relentless growth in the Singles Day sales, the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse for the first time was met with a slowdown in growth this year.

On the other hand, things look different in Southeast Asia, which has been experiencing a rapid-fire growth in the e-commerce sector. What might be lacking in scale, is made up for with a rosy picture buoyed by a brisk growth.

 

Brisk growth

Shopee, the Southeast Asian online retail platform, announced on Monday that it racked up orders of over 11 million, which is 4.5 times that of last year.

Zhou Junjie, Chief Commercial Officer, Shopee, said that this year’s 11.11 sale was the biggest in history, and that users were participating spiritedly. The company, however, did not share the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) garnered this year, unlike its Chinese counterparts.

Shopee, started in 2015 as the e-commerce arm of NYSE-listed Sea Group, has had a phenomenal rise recently. It began as a consumer-to-consumer platform, and gradually evolved to get business retailers on board. Its biggest competitor in the region is Lazada, a company that is now owned by Alibaba.

On 11.11 itself, Shopee saw that Chinese brands performed extremely well. It said that cross-border brands did up to nine times or more in sales volume. Additionally, there was a 20 times increase in terms of cross-border smartphone shipments, said Shopee.

Smartphone sales are also an indication of an increasingly mobile population. Shopee revealed that it receives over 90% of orders via mobile devices. According to iPrice, a regional e-commerce comparison site, promotions for 11.11 sales are mobile-focused, and this might also help to push people towards shopping on their phones.

In contrast to Shopee’s post-sales order counts announcement, Lazada didn’t disclose its total orders for the 11.11 sales, only mentioned briefly in a press release that it garnered 1.2 million orders within the first 60 minutes the sales kicked off.

Shopee is the only e-tailer participated in this year’s Singles Day sales in the region that gave out a total order counts.

 

Race for the crown

Even as a young platform, Shopee has had a good journey challenging regional incumbent Lazada, among others like Ezbuy and Qoo10. According to App Annie data on active users on Shopee and Lazada apps, the former seems to have overtaken the latter since the middle of this year.

And in some regional markets, Shopee is also doing quite well. For instance, in Vietnam, Shopee is now the top e-commerce player, beating The Gioi Di Dong and Lazada when it comes to monthly web visits.

It still has some way to go in Indonesia, with local players Tokopedia and Bukalapak ahead of Shopee at third place. Mobile-wise, Shopee has the top app ranking, ahead of Tokopedia, Bukalapak and Lazada, according to a finding by iPrice.

iPrice data

In a joint report released by Google and Temasek, Southeast Asia was projected to be the world’s fastest growing internet economy, and the region’s e-commerce market size was estimated to hit US$88.1 billion by 2025, making it one of the most hotly competed areas across the region.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said SEA Group is listed on Nasdaq, SEA is listed on NYSE. Additionally, Shopee’s total order count is 4.5 that of last year, not more than that of last year.)

Editor: Ben Jiang