Asian e-commerce opportunities drying up

Asian e-commerce opportunities drying up

An investment bank has warned the window of opportunity for investors to capitalise on e-commerce growth in Asia is rapidly slamming shut for Australian companies.

Geoff Baker, managing director for investment bankers The Harrington Partnership, said the markets with the most potential for e-commerce growth -- Japan, China and South Korea -- were quickly catching up with Australia.

Harrington said firms need to "move fast and act now" if they want to play a role in Asia.

"It's clear Asia has rapidly recovered from its recesssion, especially in the north Asia markets," Baker said. "These countries are in a hurry to match what the US is doing in the e-commerce sector, particularly in the development of new business models.

Despite the obvious opportunities, Baker warned against "over-simplifying the challenges" as there is more than one way to "build the right business models".

"Companies who have an understanding and sensitivities towards these differences can do very well in South Korea, Japan and China.

"Anyone who tries to apply a 'straight vanilla' solution won't survive very long."

Baker has taken a role in advising ASX Internet stock player Liberty One as it looks for Asian opportunities to reverse the sustained slump in its market value. He is adamant Australian companies "need to be in Asia" if they want to "build large customer bases and achieve sustainable growth".

"The Australian and New Zealand markets on their own simply do not offer sufficiently large enough markets," Baker said.

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