According to the organizers of the BigOff Online Friday on August 28, which is the largest promotion for online shopping in the country, 700 enterprises were involved with more than 11,000 promotional products. Websites attracted over 444,000 visitors and the event proved that e-commerce is becoming increasingly popular and throwing out a competitive challenge to traditional retail models.
At a recent workshop on e-commerce apps for mobile phones held in Ho Chi Minh City, Mr. Tran Huu Linh, Director of the Vietnam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency (VECITA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that e-commerce is thriving with the rise of digital technology. “The e-commerce model is no longer limited to computer platforms but is developing strongly on the mobile phone platform as well,” he said. “This will be the main trend for e-commerce over the next five years.”
A VECITA report pointed out that 34 per cent of Vietnam’s population, or more than 30 million people, now access the internet on their mobile phone. One-third of the spent time online is on a mobile phone. All transactions, from procurement and payment to information exchange, are being conducted on mobile phones. E-commerce enterprises are therefore actively transferring from the computer to the mobile platform to stay abreast of consumer trends.
According to a report released by Opera MediaWorks and the Asia Pacific Mobile Marketing Association, Vietnam is among the Top 4 countries in the Asia-Pacific region recording rapid growth in the number of smartphone users. Based on data from 400 million internet users, the report revealed that the rate of smartphone users in Asia-Pacific has continued to grow rapidly, on par with the rest of the world. India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are recording the highest growth.
Vietnam has the highest traffic in the region, with every user in the country using 85MB per month, which is close to the global average of 90MB per month. Such ps are certainly good news for the development of e-commerce on mobile platforms in a new market such as Vietnam.
However, Ms. Vu Hoang Yen, Marketing Director of Zalora Vietnam, said that business on mobile platforms will also face many challenges. The small screens on smartphone are unable to show all product details, with customers having to move through pages to find information. And when purchasing online, buyers can only see images of products without physically touching or trying them. Mobile phone users also tend to be on the move, which affects their concentration levels.
Despite the challenges, mobile phones have key features such as high flexibility and connectivity. This also helps e-commerce enterprises measure the number of customers because those who download apps are usually loyal customers.
The trend of using mobile devices for shopping is definitely on the rise. Mr. Tran Hai Linh, General Director of Sendo, said that in 2014 some 30 per cent of visitors used a mobile phone to purchase its products, accounting for only 5 per cent of total sales. Sixty per cent of visitors now use mobile phones, accounting for 30 per cent of sales.
Changes in shopping habits among consumers have required enterprises consider smartphones as a useful tool for their business. They must change their marketing plans and sales activities. Mr. Linh, however, believes that enterprises must choose the e-commerce model that is most suitable for them. “Don’t simply follow the trend if your current business model has high efficiency,” is his advice.