How to Win in Southeast Asia’s E-commerce Market

SEBASTIEN LAMY: The competitive landscape in Southeast
Asia in the digital space is evolving very, very fast. And we’re seeing a unique combination and the
unique evolution from a competitive-edge standpoint. It’s what we call the clash of titans. It’s the clash between Western groups
(the traditional Googles and Facebooks of the world, which have a presence in
Southeast Asia), competing with Chinese players increasingly investing in the region,
and competing with homegrown groups such as Grab, Go-Jek, Lazada, Garena in the gaming space. So tremendous competition between all three different groups. Some countries like Singapore are a unique example, where some
of these global groups are effectively coming head to head. We’re seeing, for example, both Amazon and
Alibaba through these different investments — Lazada, RedMart, as an example — competing head to head. And that’s something which is relatively unique in the world:
where you are seeing these two global giants effectively competing on a smaller market. What this means for companies in Southeast Asia is
that they need to adapt to the fast pace of evolution in the digital space in the region. Companies can take two routes. One is adaptation. The other one is revolution or transformation. Adaptation means acquiring the right capabilities
to be nimble, agile, to really, really respond in the right way and the right pace. Transformation is a little bit more aggressive. And some companies are taking that route. A good example of that is Sephora, the French retailer,
that has acquired the largest cosmetics retailer — e-commerce retailer — in the region, to form
a truly omnichannel retailer in the region.

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