How to Succeed With eCommerce in North Asia

May 14, 2020 3 min read
The world of eCommerce in Asia has exploded over the past few years. Here's how your business can truly succeed.
Unlimit Experts
Your payment experts
Unlimit Experts
Your payment experts

Over the past few years, the world of eCommerce payments in North Asia has evolved dramatically. Between smartphones, super apps, and a booming middle class, the continent has gone from emergent to front runner in the eCommerce world in just a couple of years. 

Let’s put this into perspective, Asia alone is forecasted to bring in more than $1.3 trillion in revenue from digital payments this year. Meanwhile, the United States, with its mixed methods of payments, brings in over $602bn.

It’s this growth in the eCommerce space that partly explains why Asia is on track for a CAGR of 8.9% until 2024.

These comparisons are enough to make any business see that now is the time to enter the fray. And now is the perfect time to do it.

While we would be remiss in stressing to you the need to do your homework before diving into any new market, we at Unlimint have our own concise answer to the question of how to succeed in eCommerce in Asia

And the answer is in the payments.

The Dawn of the Digital [Wallet]

One of the reasons Asia has pulled so far ahead of its global counterparts is its adaptive attitude towards people and their payments of choice. 

When looking across the continent, as a whole, 50% of all transactions in Asia come from domestic digital wallets and especially ‘super-apps’ like WeChat. 

WeChat, for example, has managed to cultivate a user-base of 1.1bn, with its payments app used by hundreds of millions of these same users in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and beyond. 

Smartphones and digital wallets have been the best solution for plugging in a population that otherwise has scant access to a conventional bank. And, as far as trends go, digital wallets and super-apps are ones that have spread like wildfire across the continent.

For every country in Asia, there are three or more domestically popular digital payment methods that people use on an all-too-frequent basis.

We’re hoping that, by this point, you’re coming to understand what exactly your business needs to do to really set itself apart?

One word – Agnosticism.

Recipe for Success: Go Payments Agnostic

With digital wallets making up a sizeable and growing proportion of the Asian eCommerce market, businesses will need to do their homework on the following:

  • Where exactly on the continent they want to do business
  • How their customers like to pay

Businesses that aren’t able to really ‘get’ their potential customers inevitably won’t, not now, not ever. And really, who could blame them? As a consumer and individual, we all have our preferences.

So when businesses look to expand, finding out the most popular payment methods can be the difference between sink and swim.

As far as what these payment methods are, there are plenty that consumers will gravitate towards, regardless of where they are. When developing a business model, companies should have these two points in mind:

  • Customers love their domestic payment methods.
  • Customers these days expect a seamless, simple payment and checkout experience.

At Unlimint, payment agnosticism is something that we understand distinctly, and strive to fulfil constantly with our customers.

That’s why we cover thousands of different payment options, from the internationally known, to the domestically popular payment solutions and currencies.

In practice, this means that when a customer from Hong Kong accesses your site, they’ll be able to pay using anything from credit/debit to WeChat or any number of domestic payment solutions.

Being in an industry where cart abandonment rates can be as high as 70%, throwing over to your customer the flexibility to pay the way they want is a serious game-changer.

At Unlimint, we empower businesses by providing them with payments that go beyond borders, allowing them to realise their true potential in such a rapidly evolving region.

Author – Robin Koh – Head of Operations (APAC), Unlimint

Boasting a long-spanning career of more than 15 years within the payments industry, Unlimint’s Head of Operations in APAC – Robin Koh – knows exactly what does and doesn’t work for industries in and out of Asia. In addition to his time in the payments world, Robin holds an in-depth knowledge of payments within the travel and airline industry.


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