‘Zoomers’ will transform Southeast Asia’s digital retail landscape

UnaCash, a fast-growing provider of ‘buy now, pay later’ and point-of-sale services, expects Generation Z — also dubbed as the first “digitally native generation” — to drive Southeast Asia’s (SEA) evolving e-commerce landscape for years to come.

UnaCash issues the following commentary:

“Currently, Gen Zs — those born between 1996 and 2010 — represent 32% of the total population of SEA (221 million people), with 57 million more young adults expected to participate in the regional economy in the next five years.

“Shopping accounts for the single biggest share of Gen Z’s spending. In the Philippines, for example, shopping accounts for almost a quarter (24%) of Gen Zs’ total spending, while it is 20% in Vietnam, ahead of entertainment, events and dining out — making it critical for retailers who are looking to capitalize on this increasingly important market segment.

“Separate reports from Statista indicate the average growth rate of the share of e-commerce sales in the trade volume of the region will be 132% whilst the size of the SEA e-commerce market will be USD 186 billion in 2025.

“Already, Gen Zs are not only fundamentally changing and restructuring the sector for themselves, but also setting trends. The further maturation of the Zoomer segment and an increase in their share in the target audience of e-commerce will lead to the spread of values and ideals to brands.

“In addition, a forecast of Bain & Co. and Meta sees the working-age population in the region expected to grow by 23 million people by 2030, which is associated with the final transition of Zoomers to the working age stage. Considering this, the adaptation of online retailers and service companies to the purchasing habits and preferences of the digital generation is of exceptional importance.”

Five key e-commerce trends

To adapt to the unique needs of the digital native generation, UnaCash believes the retail sector can position themselves for success in the e-commerce landscape with the key trends for 2024:

  1. Digital dominance. Comprising 32% of the region’s population, zoomers are leading the digital revolution, highlighting the heavy reliance on smartphones and social media platforms. Accessible, digital platforms will serve as a powerful tool for e-commerce retailers, thus investing resources to ramp up respective platforms. Digital channels produce more data for retailers, including guide businesses to create a clearer image of how to properly address the evolving needs of the customer journey through this landscape.
  2. Acceleration of shopping momentum. 66% of zoomers shop online, particularly through mobile devices which is seen as its preferred shopping companion. This includes clothing, beauty products, and food and beverages, social media seen to have a pivotal role in the shopping journey. Although e-commerce platforms are still big players in the business landscape, businesses can capitalize on this trend with innovative shopping, whose momentum is steadily increasing.
  3. Flexibility in payment preferences. Expectation of a seamless and diverse array of payment solutions, digital payment apps are the most widely used applications after social media. Partnering with financial technology providers to embedded finance services, similar to e-wallets and buy now, pay later (BNPL) payment options in their e-commerce platforms, this will help enhance the retailer’s value proposition ahead of its competitors in the local market.
  4. Omni-channel shopping. It is crucial to understand the interconnected path in consumer demands, with the mesh of both digital and physical platforms remaining pivotal to businesses. This allows retailers to drive consumer traffic through brick-and-mortar, and still explore digital touchpoints.

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