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Consumers in South East Asia unhappy with e-commerce experience during Covid-19


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

September 10, 2020 | 4 min read

Consumers in South East Asia have expressed their disappointment with e-commerce players who have prioritised growth at the expense of consumer experience amid booming sales caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.


A new report has found widespread dissatisfaction with e-commerce customer experiences

39% of consumers in SEA said they are less than satisfied with their digital commerce experience, citing concerns about delivery costs and services, product reliability and the authenticity of in-app reviews.

The report, created by Blackbox Research in partnership with consumer intelligence platform Toluna, analysed current sentiments, expectations and behaviours of 4,780 consumers across six SEA markets.

The findings suggest that while major e-commerce brands including Shopee, Lazada and Grab enjoy high usage rates in the region, this growth has come at the cost of greater scrutiny from consumers.

“South East Asia’s retail landscape has undergone a seismic shift since Covid-19 hit the region. While it has been clear for some time that consumers are more digitally adept, it is also clear that older consumers have grown in comfort with digital tools and services. That generational gap really has shrunk in recent months,” said Yashan Cama, the international commercial director of Blackbox Research.

What does the report say?

• While 56% of Gen Zs reported more online spending, the increase is also driven by older consumers, with the largest increases occurring amongst Gen X (60%) and millennial cohorts (59%).

• There was a spike in online spending in response to Covid-19, with over half of those surveyed (59%) now spending more online. Total online spend for the average SEA consumer increased by almost a third (32%).

• Indonesia (54%) and Malaysia (57%) recorded the lowest satisfaction levels in the region when it comes to online experiences. In Thailand and the Philippines, which recorded the highest satisfaction scores, close to a third were less than satisfied (30% and 33% respectively). Meanwhile, a considerable fraction of consumers in Vietnam (38%) and Singapore (39%) are also disgruntled.

• Four in five SEA consumers said they were more likely to support local brands in the future, driven by a desire to strengthen their local communities and economy.

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