Want to hear a fun fact?
There are 650 million people currently living in Southeast Asia, and half of them have yet to see the internet for the first time in their lives.
Here’s another one: average economic growth around the world is about 3%. Projected economic growth for Southeast Asia is 6.3%.
See where I’m going with this?
Southeast Asia is, in a word, an opportunity. An opportunity to bring online products and services to millions of people at an exponential rate.
Business models that have already been proven in developed markets can be copycatted in Southeast Asia with wild success.
In 2014 David Chmelar, CEO of iPrice, did just that. He built the first price comparison site in the region. Not a new idea by any stretch, yet in 3 short years it grew to host over 110 million products from over 1000 merchants across 7 countries.
Of course, you can’t transplant a Western business into Southeast Asia and expect it to work exactly the same way. Certain tweaks need to be made.
David has given us insight into exactly what those tweaks are, and how to take advantage of the Southeast Asian explosion in the coming years.
HOW TO: Build a successful online affiliate business in Southeast Asia
1. Southeast Asia is not mobile-first, it’s mobile-ONLY. Shift your priorities accordingly
Every day, thousands of people are joining the internet for the first time through their phone — they will never own a laptop. Your mobile experience will define your success.
Research the most popular devices among your customers, then monitor them in real-time to troubleshoot your mobile experience →
Take a look at actual customers using your app to see where you can improve the UX →
2. Take load time into account for every single tech development decision you make
Slow internet is an unavoidable obstacle. 20% of iPrice’s shoppers never completed their purchase because they got impatient waiting to reroute to the merchants’ page. With every single new feature or change you make, impact on load time needs to be your #1 consideration.
Learn how to slim down your load time with this speed test →
3. Set aside resources just for educating your partners on affiliate marketing
Southeast Asian merchants do not have a sophisticated understanding of affiliate marketing yet. Budget a lot of time and money for step-by-step education.
Track how much time it takes for your team to educate your first partners, then build it into your budget moving forward →
4. Indonesia has the largest economy, but be ready for a “bloodbath”
If you’re entering Indonesia, prepare to face 5-6X the amount of competitors you would in other countries. When picking your target countries, take population, economic development, and level of competition into account.
Digital population can be a good indication of how developed the market currently is →
5. Localize your products and platform to account for the diversity of the region
Southeast Asian countries have entirely different religions, demographics, languages, and cultures. Your platform needs to match the unique lifestyle of each country you’re operating in.
A one-size-fits-all model will not work here; research your target countries thoroughly →
6. Focus on overcoming 3 main challenges: trust, convenience, and transparency
- Trust: The chance of getting your card information stolen online in Indonesia is 12X the global average — you need to convince your customers they can trust you.
- Convenience: If an online product takes 2 months to arrive, that shopper will just buy it offline instead.
- Transparency: This region is new to online shopping; they don’t yet know what good price positioning, brands or products are. Make this information abundantly clear.
With these three challenges in mind, take a look at how iPrice is trying to tackle them →
7. Build a scalable model and team in preparation for exponential growth
Southeast Asian ecommerce is estimated to be 8-16X its current size by 2025. The systems you are currently putting in place need to be able to handle exponential growth.
This growth curve is no joke, make sure you’re ready for it →