Yahoo Taiwan Holding Ltd (雅虎) yesterday said that the growing popularity of handheld devices and rapid changes in consumer behavior mean that e-commerce can soon be expected to outperform traditional retail stores.
The nation’s e-commerce market is expected to reach NT$1 trillion (US$33.7 billion) by next year and can be expected to soon dominate more than half of the local retail market, estimated at NT$4 trillion a year, Yahoo Taiwan e-commerce group head Jacky Wang (王志仁) said.
Growing at an annual rate of about 20 percent, local e-commerce transactions totaled NT$767.3 billion last year, Wang said, citing statistics.
“Consumers have less time to spend on window-shopping; so they spend more time surfing the Internet and buying things online,” Wang said at a luncheon in Taipei.
“The changes in e-commerce over the past two years have been more significant than those that happened seven to eight years ago,” he said, adding that e-commerce providers and retail stores “have to catch up with this global trend.”
Mobile e-commerce in particular has great potential, as almost 40 percent of Yahoo Taiwan’s shoppers surf the Web via their tablet computers and smartphones, Wang said.
According to research by the Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC, 資策會), the value of the nation’s e-commerce market is forecast to increase by 15 percent this year from NT$451 billion last year to NT$517 billion and be bolstered by another 14 percent to NT$590 billion next year — faster than the past 10-year compound annual growth rate of 3.7 percent for overall retail sales.
Yahoo Taiwan is now building its own ecosystem for the local e-commerce market to grab more opportunities and business, Wang said.
In addition to integrating its five e-commerce platforms — Auction, Store Marketplace, Shopping Mall, Service Plus and Discount — Yahoo Taiwan has developed a targeted yet comprehensive app for online shoppers, he said.
With the popularity of handheld devices, the company has seen some increases in online transactions during commuting hours and lunch breaks, periods of time when e-commerce tended to drop off in the past, Wang said.
The company also sees now as an ideal time to develop the online-to-offline business model, because smartphones and tablets can serve as the link between the two, he said.
Users can use barcodes as discount coupons and swipe products they want to buy at stores and have them delivered within a few days of the purchase, he added.