Asia’s appetite for online shopping has shifted from the PC to the smartphone with more than half of Indonesian and Thai consumers using their mobile phones to shop, according to the latest MasterCard Online Shopping Survey.
China leads the region overall as the market with the most propensity to conduct online shopping (102 Index Points), ahead of New Zealand (87), Australia (85), Singapore (84), and South Korea (82). China’s score has increased by four Index Points from last year’s index.
Driving these shifts in behaviors in China are increased confidence in shopping: only 21.4% felt unsecure while shopping online, down from 32.8% in 2011 and 35.3% in 2010. There is also an emerging view that shopping online is “easy” among 89.5% of the Chinese respondents, an increase from 80.8% in 2011.
Two-thirds (68%) of New Zealand respondents use the internet for online shopping among other activities, and 82.3% shopped online in the past three months. Singapore and Hong Kong, Asia’s premier shopping hubs, recorded the biggest increases in online shopping behaviour with both markets registering a nine Index Point increase in 2012.
MasterCard’s survey revealed a notable increase in smartphone shopping.
Indonesians top the region with more than half of respondents (54.5%) using their smartphones to shop in the last three months. China follows closely with 54.1% and Thailand with 51%.
About 40% of online shoppers in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore – which also have high internet-enabled mobile users – made a purchase with their phone in the past three months.
The least likely to shop online via their mobile phones, though, are respondents from New Zealand (18.2%), Australia (18.7%), and the Philippines (21.4%). One in five of Asia Pacific’s shoppers purchased a fashion item using their mobile phone in the past three months. Australians (32.4%), Koreans (28.8%), and Singaporeans (28.5%) have bought something ‘fashionable’ online through their smartphones.
“The MasterCard survey reflects the changing behaviours of shoppers in the region, with more consumers opting to purchase goods online and increasingly using their smartphones to do it.
With the exception of a few markets, online shoppers are becoming more confident about using their phones to shop and I’d expect that trend to continue as more sophisticated technologies come onto the market and more products are offered online,” said Porush Singh, Senior Vice President, Core Products, Global Products & Solutions, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard.
Across all 14 Asia Pacific markets, mobile banking apps had the highest awareness-familiarity levels at 45%, followed by in-social-networking-app shopping (34%), in-game-app shopping (33%) and SMS/MMS-based payments (31%).
Mobile NFC had the lowest awareness-familiarity levels with only 25% of the respondents being aware or familiar with the technology; peer-to-peer mobile payments (26%) also registered low awareness or familiarity amongst the respondents.
For Mobile NFC Payments, 70.3% of the respondents who are aware or slightly familiar with the technology will likely try and adopt it in the first 12 months of its introduction. About the same have expressed interest in digital wallets (71.5%) and SMS/MMS-based payments (72.5%).
Even social-networking-based shopping apps are poised to be welcomed and tried by 70.7% of the respondents across Asia Pacific.
When it comes to buying from foreign websites, more than one in three respondents across Asia Pacific felt buying locally was safer as they were afraid of scams and perceived a possible risk of information being compromised.
Among those who did not make an online purchase in the three months preceding the survey, more than one-third cited being unsure about the safety/security of making transactions online as their key barrier.
When asked about possible improvements to online shopping, security-related improvements, namely a greater assurance that transactions are secure as well as enhancements to payment security to improve users’ confidence ranked high among respondents.
Categories that interest respondents
Topping the list of categories that interest them are coupons/deal sites, which interested close to 40% of the respondents across the 14 markets surveyed. These types of sites are particularly strong in China (70%), Hong Kong (54%), Vietnam (51%), South Korea (50%), and Singapore (47%).
Most (36%) consumers in Asia Pacific are also interested in music downloads, of which Thais (45%), Filipinos (44%), and Indians (45%) are quite attuned with. Music downloads, however, are least likely to appeal to Japanese (21%), Taiwanese (22.7%), and Australian (27.5%) consumers.
Fashion-related items are also of interest to most of the respondents across Asia Pacific with 35% indicating interest in this category.
These items, however, elicit stronger interest among Chinese (54%), Thais (43%), South Koreans (43%), New Zealanders (40%), and Australians (40%). It is least likely to be of interest to Indonesians (18%), Indians (24%), and Malaysians (26%).