Southeast Asia consists of 11 countries, with six of those leading the region economically: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam. With a combined population of 655 million, a young demographic and online retail sales projected to grow by 44.4% annually, Southeast Asia is an exciting region for ecommerce.
The region has a rich landscape of local ecommerce companies with brands that will be recognized by few people outside SE Asia. The largest players, including Shopee, Lazada and Tokopedia, are online marketplaces selling a diverse range of goods, similar to the Amazon model. They take a large share of Southeast Asia’s total online retail sales, which are forecast to reach $55 billion in 2020.
Despite the similarities of Southeast Asia’s local online marketplaces to Amazon, it is a region where Amazon is a very small force. It launched in Singapore in 2019, but still lags far behind local alternatives. Chinese ecommerce brands do not have a strong ecommerce presence in the region either. There has, however, been billions of dollars of foreign investment in Southeast Asia’s ecommerce industry, from both China and the West.
The largest online marketplaces in Southeast Asia
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Shopee is the largest online marketplace in Southeast Asia, with 198 million visits per month. Lazada is similar in size, with 162 million monthly visits. Both companies operate across the region, but their mix of countries is quite different. While 29% of Shopee’s traffic is from Indonesia (by far the largest economy in Southeast Asia), for Lazada the most important countries are Thailand and the Philippines.
The next largest marketplaces, Tokopedia and Bukalapak, are almost exclusively Indonesian, as is the sixth largest website Blibli. All three sell general merchandise and have a combined total of 115 million monthly visits from Southeast Asia.
There are two other single-country marketplaces on the list, Tiki and Sendo, with 22 million and 11.4 million visits per month respectively. Both focus on Vietnam, a smaller economy amongst the six that lead the region, but the fastest growing.
Next there is fashion retailer Zalora, unique on the list as the only marketplace specializing in a single product category, with 7.7 million monthly visits. Fashion is the most popular segment of the ecommerce market in Southeast Asia, with 27% of total sales.
The final marketplace on the list is Qoo10. It sells a wide range of merchandise to countries across the region, with 60% of its traffic from Singapore.
Shopee in Southeast Asia
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Shopee was founded in Singapore in 2015. It is a pure-play marketplace, meaning that all products are sold by third parties, not Shopee itself. It was only originally launched as a mobile app for consumer-to-consumer trading. Shopee is now mainly used by businesses selling new products, with a conventional website as well as a mobile app.
Shopee has been active in the six largest Southeast Asian economies since its launch, as well as Taiwan where it is now the most popular ecommerce website. It also has a localized website and app in Brazil. In 2019, Shopee generated 1.2 billion orders for a total GMV (gross merchandise volume) of $17.6 billion, an increase of 71% on the previous year.
Shopee provides a shopping guarantee to buyers by providing an escrow service. The buyer’s payment is held by Shopee until the buyer or the shipping service confirms that delivery has been completed.
As well as the main marketplace, there is the Shopee Mall which provides a wide range of products from regional and global brands, sold through almost 5000 official stores including Unilever, Samsung, Puma and Huawei. Shopee runs special sales and promotional events including “Super Brand Days” featuring global brands, “9.9” shopping day on September 9th, Single’s Day on November 11th, and “Double 12” sales on December 12th each year, which is Southeast Asia’s version of Single’s Day in China.
Selling on Shopee is free for marketplace sellers, and promotional tools are available including live streaming and social campaigns. The marketplace section is intended for use by small local businesses, while Shopee Mall is for brand owners and authorized distributors. Shopee Mall sellers must sell authentic products with a 15-day return policy, and provide free shipping or use one of Shopee’s supported logistics providers. Shopee Mall commissions range from 2-5%.
Shopee is owned by Sea Limited, a company headquartered in Singapore and with a stock market listing in New York. As well as Shopee, Sea has an online gaming division and provides digital payments and financial services. Sea is 39.7% owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent.
Lazada in Southeast Asia
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Lazada was founded in 2012 with backing from German startup studio Rocket Internet, who are behind several other online marketplaces worldwide including Jumia in Africa, Zalando in Europe, Linio in Latin America and the four online retailers operated by Global Fashion Group. Lazada was acquired by Alibaba in 2016.
Like Shopee, Lazada is based in Singapore. At first, it operated as a conventional retailer and only sold inventory directly. In 2013 an online marketplace was added and grew rapidly to account for the majority of Lazada’s sales. Lazada also invested heavily in warehouses and shipping networks as weak logistics slowed the early adoption of online shopping in the region.
Lazada has localized websites and mobile apps for the big six economies of Southeast Asia. There are many similarities between Lazada and Shopee, including their bases in Singapore, their cross-regional model, similar traffic levels and the focus on annual sale event days. However, the difference in their original business models still shows at times, with Lazada closer to Amazon in feel.
Lazada has three parts to its platform:
- The marketplace for local sellers, with no commission fees
- LazMall for brand owners and distributors, charging a 5% commission
- LazGlobal for sellers based in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan and the UK. In Malaysia, sellers in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the EU are also accepted.
There is also a scheme for sellers of fresh food and other groceries, called RedMart in Singapore and LazadaFresh in the Philippines.
Only the LazGlobal program is suitable for international sellers with no presence in the country they are selling to. It acts as an intermediary for orders, so products are shipped to Lazada’s own warehouses which then handle shipping to the customer. Lazada provides a Global Selling Platform and Lazada University training course in English for cross-border sellers.
Tokopedia in Indonesia
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Tokopedia is a pure-play online marketplace focused on Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s most populous country and largest economy. It was founded in 2009 by two local entrepreneurs, and has received funding from a range of local and international sources. Most recently, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has invested well over a billion dollars in the company.
Tokopedia is the second most popular ecommerce site in Indonesia, narrowly behind Shopee. As a private company it does not publish detailed financial information, but it’s 2019 GMV (gross merchandise volume) has been estimated as over $15 billion from 100 million active users and 10 million sellers.
Businesses in Indonesia can sell on Tokopedia as Regular Merchants or Power Merchants, while trademark holders and licensed brand distributors can open Official Stores. Sellers need to pay a security deposit and fees range from 2% to 15%, depending on the product category. Tokopedia does not have a cross-border selling program, so international businesses will need to have a local office or distributor.
Tokopedia has its own fulfillment centers, offering a service similar to Amazon’s FBA, and also provides loans, payment services, credit cards, travel and event tickets.
Tiki in Vietnam
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Tiki is a retailer and online marketplace based in Vietnam, and the third most popular ecommerce site in the country behind Shopee and Lazada. Vietnam is a country of almost 100 million people, and the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. It is also the country with the highest use of digital services in the region, with its internet economy accounting for 5% of the country’s total economic output.
Tiki was founded in 2010 to sell English-language books and has since expanded to a range of several million products. It operates nine fulfillment warehouses across the country, and has a two hour express delivery service called TikiNOW. The Tiki marketplace was launched in 2017 and has grown to contribute more than 40% of total sales.
Businesses in Vietnam can register to sell with Tiki online. There is an extensive fee schedule with commissions ranging from 0.5% to 18%, depending on the product category.
Tiki has a cross-border selling program for international companies, where sellers send orders to a designated third party logistics company who handle shipping to Vietnam and the customer.
Other online marketplaces in Southeast Asia
Bukalapak is the fourth largest online marketplace in Indonesia with 26.4 million monthly visits, behind Shopee, Tokopedia and Lazada. It was founded in 2010 and is a pure-play online marketplace with no retail operation of its own. Bukalapak has over six million sellers and 70 million active users, and processes an average of two million transactions per day.
Blibli, founded in 2011, is an online retailer and marketplace in Indonesia, with 15.7 million visits per month. It sells a wide range of merchandise, offering free shipping and interest-free credit on all products. Blibli runs a Global Seller Program to help international businesses sell on the site.
Sendo is an online marketplace in Vietnam, and part of IT services group FPT Corporation. It was launched in 2012 and sells products across most categories including fashion, homewares and electronics. Sendo has a general marketplace open to all of its 500,000 sellers and SenMall for branded products with guaranteed authenticity.
Zalora, founded in 2012, is one of Global Fashion Group’s websites, alongside Dafiti in Latin America, Lamoda in Russia and The Iconic in Australia. It is a retailer in its own right, as well as an online marketplace, and has 7.6 million monthly visitors from across Southeast Asia. Indonesia is Zalora’s largest market, followed by the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia. Zalora also has localized sites in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Qoo10 is a pure-play online marketplace based in Singapore. It has 7 million visits per month from Southeast Asia, 90% of which are from Singapore. Qoo10 was founded in 2010 as a joint venture between eBay and the founder of South Korea’s Gmarket, and originally used the Gmarket name before rebranding to Qoo10 in 2012.
Qoo10 is now an independent company, except for in Japan where it is fully owned by eBay. Cross-border sellers can register and sell on Qoo10. A $100 deposit is payable on registration and selling fees range from 6% to 12%.
About the data
This article covers online marketplaces (either pure-play marketplaces or retailers with a third-party marketplace) with more than five million monthly visits from within Southeast Asia, based on data from SimilarWeb. A global list of online marketplaces, based on the same data, is available in The World’s Top Online Marketplaces.
We have excluded online retailers whose marketplace forms a very small part of their overall business, as well as marketplaces with a consumer-to-consumer model, and marketplaces with a very narrow product niche.