Lockdowned shoppers flock to price comparison iPrice platform
By Charlotte Chong
KUALA LUMPUR, NNA - Many people have turned to online shopping during prolonged lockdowns to fight the global coronavirus pandemic.
However, shopping on an e-commerce platform can be tricky when one has to navigate through countless products flooding a website to find the product they want at the best price -- a factor that became even more important as consumers had to tighten their belts to cope with tough times.
Shoppers often find themselves at a loss, given the rapid-changing nature of the online ecosystem and the quick emergence and disappearance of sellers.
Lending a big helping hand is Southeast Asia’s product comparison platform iPrice Group, which saw a robust 60 percent growth in traffic on its platforms in the region.
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, iPrice has a presence across seven markets in Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
It has compared the prices of as many as 1.5 billion products from more than 1,500 merchant partners across the region. The categories run the gamut from fashion, health and home to electronics and automotive.
Its recent report showed that the most sought-after items in Malaysia during the country's lockdown include men's shaving supplies, Nintendo Switch’s Animal Crossing game, kitchen appliances such as bread makers and stand mixers, gym equipment like skipping ropes and yoga mats.
Search traffic for shaving supplies shot up by 17,652 percent while gamers looking for Nintendo Swith’s Animal Crossing raised the search by 17,427 percent compared to pre-COVID-19 period.
Its newly-appointed CEO Paul Brown-Kenyon said, “We noticed that online shoppers are in need of one platform that aggregates endless products and merchants in the e-commerce ecosystem.”
He told NNA in an email, “We recognize consumers' heavy use of mobile phones, and we want to enable e-commerce by being present in these apps.”
But e-commerce platforms also faced challenges during the lockdown. Kenyon noted, “At the start of the lockdown, we were aware of challenges with deliveries from international merchants.”
To help shoppers to avoid disappointments, iPrice tech team helped to provide site information to show if a product being ordered was being delivered from a local or an oversea supplier.
The platform provides users with a list of most searched products, product reviews and in-depth information about sellers.
It is also expanding beyond price comparison to create various avenues for online shopping with partners including online media like Rappler and News Straits Times, applications such as LINE and Home Credit.
“It's been predicted that Southeast Asia's e-commerce is on an upward trajectory. It is currently at an emerging stage and there's a lot of potential for more,” he said, adding that consumer response to the COVID-19 situation is a testament to the overriding importance of online shopping especially during uncertain times.
Kenyon said, “This episode has witnessed large groups of users, who previously had never tried e-commerce, to start purchasing online… we believe this will spur e-commerce adoption.”
“Southeast Asians are adapting to it as well, in every possible avenue,” Kenyon added.
When asked about monetization, Kenyon said it receives certain commissions and incentives from partners which offer consumers bargains, curated coupons and special deals every day.
A recent survey by digital advertising solutions provider Criteo shows that more than 50 percent of consumers in the Asia-Pacific region would shop online even more as a result of the pandemic.
According to e-Conomy SEA 2019 report commissioned by Google and Singapore's state-run investor Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd, Malaysia’s internet economy continued to rise at a steady 21 percent annualized rate despite economic headwinds. The country's e-commerce performance alone has tripled in size since 2015 and exceeded $3 billion in 2019.
In Southeast Asia, e-commerce had seen unprecedented growths, jumping seven times from $5.5 billion in 2015 to over $38 billion in 2019, according to the report.
“The sector is on track to exceed $150 billion by 2025, which is $50 billion more than predictions made over a year ago — on the back of stronger-than-anticipated growth,” it added.