Which Categories and Months Do Best in Ecommerce Sales in Southeast Asia?

The hype surrounding ecommerce in Southeast Asia is high and everyone from small retailers, globally acknowledged brands to established giants like Alibaba and Amazon are looking to tap into the market.

Similar to other markets, Southeast Asia experiences seasonality in sales – some months are quiet while others experience a rush of eager shoppers. National holidays across the six biggest nations in the region differ, so which are the best performing sales months?

Regional ecommerce enabler aCommerce has shared data that sheds light on online shopping seasonality for various categories in the region.

Best time for sales?

The year end holidays unsurprisingly provide great opportunities for retailers as shoppers flock to the stores looking for gifts, decorations, and Southeast Asia is no exception.

Nearly 40% of online sales are generated in the last three months of the year – October, November and December.

While 2016 saw a number of brands and retailers in Southeast Asia follow in Alibaba’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping festival held on November 11, sales leading up to the massive campaign were actually higher in October and December.

There were slight differences across countries but the last quarter was the peak of online sales in the four markets. Retailers usually begin preparing for the holiday season in August/September to accommodate the sometimes 300% increase in sales volume. This means marketing campaign collateral, raising awareness of future sales, hiring extra staff in warehouses, etc.

Best performing category?

When looking at trends in category sales, similar patterns emerge showing higher month-on-month (MoM)  growth at the end of the year.


Beauty products and consumer electronics show higher fluctuations in MoM sales growth, while fashion & apparel sales growth is steady.

In 2016, electronics sales increased 2.5 times in October compared to September – most likely due to the release of the new iPhone 7 from Apple in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Sales of beauty products tripled in November most likely boosted by holiday season campaigns advertising cosmetics as gifts for upcoming celebrations.


“The Asia Pacific region generates the highest sales via digital retailing for the beauty and personal care market. Its 2010-2015 CAGR at 25% outpaces global internet retailing CAGR at 15%. Therefore, targeting Asian consumers requires a strong online strategy,” said Joanna Chan, Beauty and Fashion Research Analyst at Euromonitor International.

However, a winning online strategy will differ across countries as consumers in markets like Singapore are tech savvy, use credit cards and buy online frequently and in other markets like Indonesia or the Philippines, the poor infrastructure and internet speed need to be taken into account.

As retail around the globe shifts towards a model where online serves as an additional branding, marketing and sales channel for traditional brick-and-mortar stores, stepping into ecommerce will reap first-mover advantage.