Shoppers mistrust SME APAC e-tailers

Anuradha Shukla

Online shoppers in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) are reluctant to buy from small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) online retailers.

A newly released Forrester study shows that 57% of APAC respondents find these websites as their least-preferred destinations.

These respondents ranked them below multi-brand online marketplaces, brand or manufacturer websites and bricks-and-mortar retailers.

46% of the APAC respondents who don't want to buy directly from SME online retailers said it is difficult for them to verify the seller's reputation.

"In some respects, the study reveals a trust deficit among APAC consumers when it comes to buying goods from the websites of SME online retailers outside their home market," said Dr. Karen Reddington, president, FedEx Express, Asia Pacific. "Nevertheless, the study also reveals the considerable opportunity for SMEs in the online retail space, and suggests ways for them to win the trust that is so important to online shoppers in this region."

Cross-border purchases

APAC consumers spend an average of about US$350 per year on cross-border online purchases.

This figure is higher for certain areas such as mainland China where 26% of the respondents reported spending more than US$1,000 per year.

The study suggests SME online retailers to pay attention to their international traffic and business; and research how other merchants are marketing their goods. 

SMEs should decide whether to serve many markets or focus on a few key ones. They should also make efforts to identify the right resources. 

"Access to overseas markets is no longer the preserve of large corporations - more and more SMEs are selling overseas," said Dr. Reddington.  "Increasingly, promoting e-commerce is a way to promote the interests of SMEs, which are the driving force of many economies in the region."