E-commerce can help grow Asean’s retail sector and will benefit both consumers and retailers in the region, the Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean BAC) said in its latest report.

E-commerce to drive Asean retail growth

In its 2015 report to leaders, Asean BAC said business-to-customers Internet sales in Asean account for only one per cent of total sales as opposed to eight per cent in developed economies.

According to global management consulting firm AT Kearney, Singapore is the only Asean country to be placed in the top 30 in a ranking led by the US, China and United Kingdom.

In the firm’s 2015 Global Retail E-Commerce Index, Singapore ranked 14th with a 41.5 score in terms of online market attractiveness.

The study said the city state has infrastructure that makes the retail environment conducive for online shopping.

In terms of consumer behaviour, Singapore was rated at 89.4, a score higher than the US, which indicated a favourable consumer base for online transactions.

Asean BAC said e-commerce technology is essential for the integration of Asean’s retail sector as it makes shopping easier for consumers. It also helps grow businesses without having to contend with too many pre-existing impediments.

But in order to develop e-commerce, the council said Asean needs to work on its logistics, develop an online payment system and promote access to finance.

Asean should also consider the establishment of a region-wide e-payment regulation system that will help companies identify their clients.

To speed up the payment process, an e-payment escrow solution could also be explored, the council said in its report.

Asean should also encourage partnerships between e-retailers and logistics players to improve trade efficiency.

The integration of logistics systems in Asean must be accelerated. The council added in its report that the Asean Single Window system should be fully-implemented.

Asean BAC said access to finance and use of regional e-commerce platforms will help Asean e-commerce players keep up with their international competitors.

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