Vietnamese may have been slower to adopt to online shopping than counterparts in other southeast Asian countries – but they are starting to catch up.
Data released by the Vietnam eCommerce and Information Technology Agency (VECITA) shows Vietnam online shopping was worth US$2.97 billion in 2014 with each consumer spending an average of $145 during the year.
Fashion and cosmetics accounted for 60 per cent of sales.
While $3 billion may seem a lot, it amounted to just 2.12 per cent of the country’s gross retail sales. In China, online shopping now accounts for just over 10 per cent of the total retail market.
One factor hindering Vietnam’s online retailing growth is the low penetration of credit cards. Two thirds of purchases are paid for in cash upon the delivery of the purchases.
Other figures show about four in 10 of Vietnam’s 94 million population have access to the internet, with penetration far higher in major cities. More than 50 per cent of people using social networking also shop online.
While major online portals like Lazada are building significant market share, a huge percentage of Vietnam online shopping is conducted informally via Facebook pages, Line and even WeChat. It is common for younger women, particularly, to bulk purchase clothes, handbags, cosmetics and accessories and market them to fan bases online in a way which is difficult for authorities to track or measure.
The one shrinking sector online in Vietnam is group buying. VECITA said just 35 per cent of Vietnam’s online shoppers bought from group buying sites in 2014, down from 51 per cent in 2013.
Regionally, Vietnam ranks above only Indonesia, where the online market was estimated at $2.6 billion last year.