Press Room


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Kuala Lumpur – Aug. 26, 2014 – The growth of connected device ownership across Southeast Asia is laying the foundation for a booming online retail sector, with the number of consumers making online purchases increasing significantly in the past two years, according to an e-commerce report released today by global information and insights company, Nielsen.

The survey findings revealed that travel services are the most commonly purchased items online in Southeast Asia, along with tickets for events such as movies, live performances, exhibitions and sports games. More than 6 in 10 Malaysian consumers plan to go online to purchase flight tickets (67% and third highest globally) and make hotel and tour reservation (62% and second highest globally) within the next six months while 58 percent of Malaysian consumers would go online to purchase event tickets such as movie, performance and exhibition (third highest globally).

“The results really disperses any misconception that Malaysians are not open to online shopping and in fact, there is great opportunity for all types of companies, across a wide range of sectors and industries to tap onto virtual shopping.” said Jon-Paul Best, Head of Financial Services for Nielsen Malaysia. “Increasingly, having an online shopping functionality is becoming the norm, rather than the exception and it is only going to be more widespread.”

The Nielsen Global Survey of E-Commerce polled more than 30,000 internet respondents in 60 countries to examine the online shopping and purchasing intentions of consumers worldwide. The study provides clarity about global consumers’ buying intentions for both consumable and non-consumable categories in the growing e-commerce landscape.


The categories which rank most favourably for online shopping have shifted substantially in the past two years; in 2012 categories such as a computer and gaming software, mobile phones and clothing and accessories ranked among the most frequently purchased items online. While these categories continue to enjoy high engagement with Southeast Asian consumers when it comes to browsing, the conversion from looking to buying has dropped behind other categories in the past two years.

Digital consumers across the region enjoy going online to shop, however, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Singaporeans are most inclined to purchase items online, compared to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand where consumers are more likely to go online to browse. Over six in 10 Malaysians says they would often read online review prior to purchasing a product (68%) as well as taking a look at the products online before purchasing them in store (64%). Notably, 62 percent of Malaysian consumers also join a large proportion of Southeast Asian consumers who view the Internet as a means of checking out products to inform their offline purchases.


When it comes to devices most frequently used to shop online, although PCs dominate in the majority of Southeast Asia markets, use of mobile phones for online shopping is also growing in popularity across the region. The Philippines (62%), Indonesia (61%), Vietnam (58%) and Thailand (58%) rank in the top 10 markets globally for use of a mobile phone to shop online followed by Singapore (48%) and Malaysia (47%).

All Southeast Asia markets scored above global average of 44 percent. The use of tablet is also gaining popularity as a means of accessing online retail sites, with all Southeast Asia markets except Singapore ranking above the global average for use of a tablet to shop online. (See Chart 3).

“The increasing penetration of smart phones is probably a key contributor to the growth of online shopping, allowing consumers to shop spontaneously as at their own convenience, without the constraint of needing PC access.” said Best. “While the increasingly large screen size of many mobile phones does improve shopping experience, it reinforces the benefits of having a dedicated app, allowing shoppers, a more user-friendly shopping experience and better fulfilling the need of convenience.”


Emerging e-commerce capabilities such as grocery list apps and tolls and discount alert apps are beginning to gain traction across the region. However, credit card security remains a key concern across the region with five of the six Southeast Asia markets ranking above the global average with respect to their concern around providing credit card information online.

More than half Malaysian netizens are cautious when it comes to paying online by credit card (52% do not trust giving their credit card information online). Filipinos are the most cautious (67%), followed by Thais (62%), Indonesians (60%), Vietnamese (55%) and Singaporeans (41%) compared to 49 percent of consumers globally.

“Despite online shopping being available for several years, the results also revealed an on-going need for companies to constantly review their security protocols. More importantly, ensure they effectively communicate their site’s reliability and security to consumers.” noted Best. “These security fears may be one of the key reasons why Malaysian consumers are more prone to conducting product research online and then purchasing them in-store.”

“Although some companies currently allow online ordering but offer off-line payment, which helps to reduce security concerns, we foresee there is a need for combined efforts between financial institutions and retailers to guarantee a safe online shopping experience for the ever increasing online shoppers.”


The Nielsen Global Survey of E-commerce was conducted between Feb. 17 and March 7, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. In Malaysia, the sample size is 507. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6 percent. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.


Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit