Social media ‘live’ sales and other forms of social-media commerce are gaining ground, a Southeast Asia study shows.

People in Southeast Asia (SEA) have been shopping more, and they are shopping for more. Total social commerce orders in H1 2020 have more than doubled, while gross merchandise value (GMV) has grown three-fold across the Southeast Asia, as compared to the same period time last year.

This is the finding of a survey of 12,000 consumers and over 1,000 social sellers across Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore conducted in the first half of 2020.

The study also sheds light on another emerging trend—the rise of live-selling or broadcasting of live videos featuring sales activities. Overall, the number of live-sales in the region has increased nearly 13% to 67% due to shoppers in Singapore and Thailand who have been spending more time engaging with merchants and buying through live-streams while under lockdowns and social distancing restrictions.

Similarly, shopping via live-sales had also been on the rise. An analysis of repeat purchases found that consumers in Vietnam and Philippines typically made purchases via live sale twice a week, compared to their peers in Singapore who shopped once a week on social media during the survey period.

Social commerce evolving

The study has noted that trust and fraud issues and a lack of familiarity are proving to be big barriers for retailers in the region. Said Sega Cheng, CEO and Cofounder, iKala, a Taiwanese firm that conducted the study: “Social commerce is growing rapidly, and every day social media companies are adding new capabilities to support this growth. For retailers, the opportunities are apparent, but to truly succeed they must find ways to make the shopping experience live, interactive and seamless.”

In the region, the adoption of social technologies is up, but it varies from country to country, said Cheng. In Singapore, more retailers are using AI chatbots to automate order creations, while Thai retailers prefer AI-powered order management systems. In Vietnam and the Philippines, there is a greater dependency on leveraging tools for payment reminders.

“Social commerce will continue to evolve, and retailers who adapt quickly and experiment with a growing array of social technologies will emerge strongest,” added Cheng.