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Oct 23, 2020 · 17 min read

How to Accelerate Affiliate Ecommerce Marketing in Southeast Asia

Ecommerce, social commerce and mobile commerce (mCommercesales have experienced growth globally, even during the economic downturn of COVID-19Here are the opportunities for digital marketers in the Southeast Asian market. 


Ecommerce in Southeast Asia’s Market is expected to continue growing in 2021 

According to eMarketerthe Asia-Pacific ecommerce market overall is expected to grow significantly. The region accounts for the largest digital buyer growth (8.6%) globally in 2020 (2). In terms of retail ecommerce growth, Southeast Asian countries saw significant growth in 2020, including: 

  • The Philippines (25%) 
  • Malaysia (23%) 
  • Indonesia (17%) 
  • Thailand (15%) 
  • Singapore (12.5%) 
  • Vietnam (10%) 

Trends Predicted for the Southeast Asian Market in the Next Few Years 

The rise of ecommerce taking place through ecommerce platforms, social media platforms and on mobile in Southeast Asia have resulted from a few key factors (1). 

  • Greater access to mobile phones and connectivity  
  • Overall improved economic position of Southeast Asian consumers  
  • Evolving ecommerce platforms for improved user experiences  
  • In the past six months, COVID-19 has forced many brick-and-mortar stores to close. This has caused both consumers and retailers to move online to buy and sell respectively (2).  

The Philippines and Malaysia are the top fastest growing countries in retail ecommerce sales and are projected to grow by a further 20% at least (2). M-commerce is growing quickly in emerging markets, which includes several Southeast Asian countries. Thailand’s m-commerce sales accounted for 75.3% of all national ecommerce sales in 2020 and the figure stands at 64% in Indonesia. By 2024, eMarketer estimates the Asia-Pacific region will produce over $4 trillion in ecommerce sales, which at that point will make up 65.9% of the global market. This growth presents many affiliate marketing opportunities for both publishers and advertisers. However, they must approach the Southeast Asian market correctly to succeed.  

What Publishers and Advertisers can do to Thrive in the Southeast Asian Market 

1. Localised and Cultural Content 

It is important that publishers and advertisers recognise that Southeast Asian consumers are completely different from Western consumers(1)They must distinguish between the cultures of Southeast Asia too. Each Southeast Asian country has its own language, customs, geographies and cultural nuancesA way of communicating in one region (even within the same country) may be received completely differently in another. To ensure culturally appropriate messaging in Southeast Asian markets, advertisers should collaborate with local affiliate marketers. Publishers who want to expand into Southeast Asian markets should consult local affiliates or become familiar with the local language if possible, customs and cultural nuances, as cultural consumer differences differ from country to country within the market. 

2. Mobile Commerce is Key 

With overall improved access across the Southeast Asian market to mobile phones, focusing on mobile commerce is highly recommended, as well as mobile attributionAs communication technologies progress, mobile connectivity becomes faster and cheaper, meaning consumers will be using them more widely to make purchases. eMarketer predicts that by 2022, 80.33% of all ecommerce in the Asia-Pacific region will be m-commerce. Advertisers should collaborate with publishers whose content is optimised for mobile, and publishers should ensure they keep up with the latest mobile commerce trends to ensure they do not fall behind their competitors.  


3. Focusing on Southeast Asia’s Key Platforms  

Advertisers need to keep in mind that Southeast Asian markets operate differently not only culturally, but also in terms of the products and services purchased and the leading ecommerce platforms. The West’s leading platforms are not as relevant in Asia-Pacific markets. The top platforms in the Asia-Pacific markets which affiliate marketers should focus on include Shopee and Lazada (3) 

4. Opportunity for Affiliate Marketing 

The upward trends of ecommerce, mobile commerce and social commerce in Southeast Asia is a fantastic opportunity for publishers and advertisers in affiliate marketingBy familiarising themselves with the individual Southeast Asian markets, publishers can be successful in promoting advertiser offers to local consumers. Advertisers can also decide to collaborate with local affiliates who have deeper insights into the local customs, languages, cultural holidays and other important factors.  

Key Takeaways 

  • The Southeast Asian ecommerce markets, particularly The Philippines and Malaysia, are growing exponentially  
  • Better connectivity and access to mobile phones, improved economic standing and ecommerce platforms, and COVID-19 have all contributed to this growth 
  •  The Southeast Asian market presents great opportunities for affiliate marketingparticularly in m-commerce, but cultural and market-specific factors need to be considered 


  1. Cultural Consumer Differences in Southeast Asia
  2. Global commerce 2020
  3. Digital 2019 Leading Online Retailers in Southeast Asia 

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