Social commerce still massive and growing across Southeast Asia: report

Hawking wares on social networks like Facebook and Instagram isn’t going away.

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Billions of dollars have been poured into building e-commerce marketplaces like Lazada, Tokopedia, and TaoBao to help individuals and shop owners sell their wares online. But simply selling through social networks like Instagram and WhatsApp is also on the rise all across Asia.

As many as 95% of merchants in Thailand see social media as a viable business platform, says a recent report commissioned by PayPal.

This makes Thailand the nation that embraces social commerce the most among its Asian peers. Outside of China, Facebook is the most popular sales channel. In China’s ecosystem, it’s WeChat.

Source: Social Commerce as a Driver of Digital Payments

The study concludes that the social commerce phenomenon is likely to grow even larger rather than diminish.

Merchants often use multiple sales channels, and using social commerce can be done in addition to a more formal branded online store, or a digital storefront on a marketplace. But from the looks of these survey results, social commerce is a key component in the mix all across Asia, whlist in China, where most of the international social media platforms are absent, there are plenty of domestic social e-commerce platforms, including recently listed Pinduoduo as well as Meilishuo which was said to list in the U.S. in the second half of this year.

Keeping an eye on this phenomenon is important for e-commerce platform developers and digital payments services, as they can create features that cater to this type of online transaction. Facebook is already experimenting with features that turn the social network into a shopping mall, not just on its main social network, but also subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram.

Editor: Ben Jiang