Just looking at the eCommerce sector and saying, “it’s booming,” is a little bit like looking at Africa and saying, “it’s poor.” While some parts of the continent struggle to provide people with the basics, that’s not universally true.
To confuse matters further, practically every metric on eCommerce that you read is pointing upwards. Everything seems to be saying, “this is the future. Jump on the bandwagon now, or you’ll be left behind.”
There is, however, a need for caution. The industry is doing different things in different parts of the globe. It is by no means a universal phenomenon, and people are responding to it very differently depending on where they live. Never before has it been so vital to get the advice of an eCommerce consultant if you’re planning on setting up a business in the online space.
The Asia-Pacific Region Isn’t Adopting Ecommerce Universally
With the rise of internet giants like Alibaba and JD.com, many commentators point to the Asia-Pacific region as having the most growth potential of any area, anywhere in the world. But when you drill down into the figures, you notice something: the lion’s share of that growth is happening in South Korea and coastal cities in China.
Why this is happening in these locations is clear: both countries have the best transport infrastructures in the world, making it easy to deliver goods to private addresses around the country. In South Korean, for instance, customers have been buying more than 10 percent of all retail products purchased in the country online since 2013.
The same story, however, does not apply to the rest of Asia. Countries like Mongolia, Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia with less-developed distribution networks have not seen the same level of market penetration.
North America Loves Ecommerce but Is Dominated by Amazon
In North America, around 16 percent of all retail purchases are online – one of the highest percentages of anywhere in the world. The problem, though, is that the market is dominated by a single company – Amazon. While others, like Walmart and eBay, have sizeable market shares, it is Jeff Bezo’s monolith that has the best brand and distribution network. Thus, if you want to succeed in the online space in America, you either have to use one of the existing platforms, or you have to do something so different from the mainstream that you appear unique to customers. That’s not easy.
Western Europe Is Divided Over Ecommerce
Different countries in Western Europe have different attitudes to eCommerce. In Germany and France, for instance, uptake is low across the board. The majority of people are still willing to travel to regular stores to get what they want.
The UK, on the other hand, is much different. Despite having a smaller population than Germany by around 20 million, the country racked up 50 percent more online sales.
Entrepreneurs in the eCommerce space, therefore, need to be careful. While there are opportunities all over the world, they’re not evenly spread. Speaking with experts will help you understand the situation more and allow you to tailor a regional strategy.