e-commerce trends in AsiaDave Sloan, Head of Product at ShopSpot, shares his thoughts on mobile e-commerce trends in Asia for 2013.

In the past few years, Asians have quickly taken to the mobile Internet. And most recently, Asian smartphone users have turned their attention to mobile shopping. For Asia, light, mobile-centric e-commerce models have proven to be more successful than traditional, desktop-centric ecommerce 1.0 models. Here are a few examples of mobile commerce trends in Asia:

1) Loyalty apps

Loyalty apps like Perx and Squiryl are definitely a hot trend in the restaurant-crazy Asian culture. iPhone and Android users simply download a loyalty app that becomes part of their ‘mobile wallet.’

Activity in these loyalty apps is most often shared via Facebook and Twitter, essentially socializing the age-old concept of a loyalty program. The value proposition is simple; don’t carry conventional paper loyalty cards, simply scan a QR code each time you dine and earn credits towards a free meal. And naturally, these loyalty apps are evolving into discovery tools, integrating location-based services and providing local restaurant recommendations, much like Foursquare or Yelp.

2) Mobile coupons

Flash sales sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have been pushing hard in Asia, as seen by Groupon’s recent launch of a concept store in Singapore.

Facebook Offers is a new, coupon-like Facebook ad unit that has shown strong signs of success in Asia, as seen with impressive case studies by Ocean Park Hong Kong and Qoo10 Singapore. For example, Qoo10 ran a Facebook Offer that ran for three days that saw 15,000 claims and 82 percent increase in member registration.

Facebook Offers have been widely accepted because of the simplicity of its mechanics. A desktop or mobile user can simply “get an offer” via a single click from their Facebook newsfeed. The offer is easy to redeem as well; users receive and show an email that includes the coupon via their smartphone at point of purchase. No printing, no clipping, and no manual steps required. It’s a perfect fit for a mobile-centric, Facebook-connected shopping culture that values instant gratification.

3)    Fashion discovery

We live in a digital scrap-booking world where millions of people are browsing and pinning images via social networks like Pinterest. Photo apps like Pinterest and Instagram help fashionistas discover new items from their favorite brands and celebrities.

ShopSpot, a mobile Thai startup, is betting that Asians want to discover fashion items from their favorite local shops. Users can easily follow their favorite sellers as well as like and comment on cool new items.  If they are interested in the item, they can message the vendor directly through the ShopSpot platform. This is mobile commerce ‘lite’ in that it helps users discover and engage with hot fashion items while generating leads for local offline and online shops.

In all three of these mobile commerce examples, the complexity of payment and shipping are avoided all together, simplifying the user experience. Traditional ecommerce 1.0 models like Amazon or eBay have been slow to gain traction in Asia because of lack of a widely adopted electronic payment system (like credit cards or Paypal in the US) and fragmented infrastructure that makes shipping expensive and inconvenient.  The key to ecommerce in Asia has been to provide a convenient mobile experience, remove the complexity of payment / shipping, and provide value that was previously less accessible.

About the author

Dave is Head of Product at ShopSpot and is based in Singapore. ShopSpot is a local mobile startup that let’s shoppers browse items from their favourite shops. You can reach Dave at dave.sloan@gmail.com or on Twitter at @dave_sloan.

Image Credits: healthwired