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Social Commerce Continues to Accelerate in Southeast Asia

Social e-commerce, where goods are sold through social networks, is on the rise in Southeast Asia.
Nowadays, the opportunity for social media as a sales channel is too enormous to be ignored. Especially when it comes to Southeast Asia (SEA), data by Bain & Co. shows social commerce accounting for close to half (44%) of the region’s U$109 billion e-commerce market last year alone. It is not surprising, considering SEA has some of the highest rates for internet penetration and social media engagement in the world.
In a recent annual report by iKala titled ‘Riding the Pandemic Wave & Beyond’, within the first half of this year alone, orders and Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) in the region’s social commerce sector jumped 102% and 91% compared to the same period last year. Shopping via social media has surpassed traditional retail to become the second most preferred shopping method in SEA. Social commerce is now the second most preferred shopping channel (78%) with traditional e-commerce only slightly ahead (91%), and beat physical retail this year for the first time, which is losing the race — only preferred by 35% of shoppers.
iKala, an AI-based solution provider, said in a statement that even with Covid-19 restrictions in many parts of Southeast Asia, the pace of growth for social commerce shows few signs of slowing. “If anything, more people are spending more of their time discovering, considering and purchasing products within the social media ecosystem,” the statement reads. But, why?
  1. Easy and convenient. Why scroll through hundreds of listings when you can just message the shop you like?
  2. Cheaper. As compared to e-commerce sites and in-store prices, these generally cost less. Plus, there are tons of sales and discounts.
  3. Recommendations. Social media sellers’ profiles are always filled with reviews from customers and influencers — you’ll even see reviews from your friends and family on their stories.

Now, more platforms are now offering their own commerce experience, such as Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp’s Shops, as well as Twitter and Pinterest’s focus on facilitating sales,  even Tiktok has launched shopping features already.

“it’s become clear that social commerce is not a phase — the ease, convenience and accessibility of this format has earned it a permanent place in the way this region shops.”CEO and co-founder of iKala, Sega Cheng said.


  1. Southeast Asia sees exhilarating rise in social commerce- techwire asia by Dashveenjit Kaur
  2. Social commerce is catching up to e-commerce in Southeast Asia, it’s nearly half of the $109B market- BackScoop from Medium
  3. Social commerce booms in Southeast Asia- by Dean Blake

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