Business-to-consumer electronic commerce opportunities will surge in the Asia-Pacific region over the next 12 months, with spending per user projected to rise 80 per cent from $US800 to $1450, according to a report released by market research company International Data Corp (IDC).
This will offer great opportunities for Web sellers that understand the preferences - and differences - of Asia's Internet users and Web buyers, IDC said in a summary of the report.
The rapid growth in the number of Internet users and e-commerce revenues in the region will present lucrative opportunities to Web sellers that understand the Asian Internet economy and its diversity, Dane Anderson, vice president of Internet research for IDC Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.
But companies that do not understand the complexities, uniqueness and limitations of Asia's Web buyer population and its components will meet grave difficulties, according to Anderson.
The surest path to failure is a strategy based solely on lessons learned in more developed markets, he added.
The survey highlighted major differences between the Internet environment in Asia compared to more developed markets such as the US. Among the most noticeable differences are the demographics of Asian Internet users and Web buyers.
Whereas the Internet is becoming a mainstream medium in the US, Asia's online population is skewed toward a few key demographic segments. The survey found that Asia's typical Internet user is young - 80 per cent between 19 and 34 - and male (76 per cent), with an annual household income of less than $15,000 (72 per cent).
Despite the rapid growth of Asia's Internet user base, a majority of those online across the region still do not make purchases over the Web. Only 40 per cent of survey respondents had purchased any products or services online in the past 12 months, IDC said. Internet users in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and China were the least likely to spend money online. Users in Korea and Australia/New Zealand were the most likely to buy goods and services online, with 65 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, doing so in the past 12 months.
The primary impediments to e-commerce cited by survey respondents included concerns over using credit cards online, fears of dealing with disreputable merchants, a preference to physically examine products before purchasing them and a lack of discretionary income.
Books, music on compact discs, computer hardware and computer software were the hottest-selling products in Asia over the past 12 months, and are likely to remain so in 2001, according to the survey.
The survey also confirmed Asia's strong preference for local-language Web sites, particularly in the pivotal markets of Korea, China and Taiwan.