How is e-commerce structured in Southeast Asia? Is the region on track to follow the US into a marketplace-dominated online landscape, or will brands have more control over their own sales and customer experience on their sites? And how should brands approach the markets with this in mind? We have a number of recommendations on how these risks can be minimized.

The dominance of Amazon in US e-commerce is unmistakable. Almost 50% of US e-commerce spend happens on the platform. This makes selling on Amazon practically a requirement if you are an online vendor in the US, which has given the platform outsized influence over its sellers and e-commerce in general. Brands struggle to get users to buy directly from their own websites, with many shoppers simply preferring the Amazon environment. This allows Amazon to charge increasingly high fees to sell on the platform, turning brands almost into Amazon suppliers rather than independent retailers.

The situation in SEA

The e-commerce landscape in Southeast Asia is still developing and is not as mature as, for example, the US. However, some clear patterns are emerging. E-commerce in Southeast Asia was championed by marketplaces, which were initially key to getting people online and shopping. This includes players like Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia. With their onsite brand stores and existing audiences, they have become essential for brands wishing to enter the market. Their existing audiences and reach have made them very attractive in this regard. You simply open a store and already you reach millions of potential customers.

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