Sebastien Lamy: Southeast Asia's Booming E-commerce Market



Southeast Asia's digital landscape is evolving at an extremely fast pace. Sebastien Lamy, a partner with Bain's Consumer Products practice, explains how a surge of new digital consumers is propelling the growth of the region's digital economy.

Read the Bain Brief: So You Want to Win in Southeast Asia E-commerce?
Related video: How to Win in Southeast Asia's E-commerce Market

SEBASTIEN LAMY: Southeast Asia is a very dynamic place when it comes to digital. What we're seeing is the market is evolving at an extremely fast pace, probably a little bit faster than other parts of the world. What is interesting is that this extremely fast pace of digital transformation is across the region. Places like Singapore, Malaysia, slightly more developed economies, we're seeing levels of penetration which are starting to be high, and you would expect this. But the fastest pace of evolution can be seen in countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, where we're seeing the number of digital consumers increasing at the fastest pace in the past one year to 18 months.

This fast pace of evolution is leading to the emergence of a relatively sizable economy. We estimate that the digital economy is roughly $50 billion. So that's $50 billion worth of transactions online, be it for things such as e-commerce, ride hailing or transportation, travel. There are also things such as mobile gaming, or PC gaming. So the emergence of a relatively sizable $50 billion economy.

That $50 billion economy, it's both big and small. Big in the context of Southeast Asia—$50 billion, that's probably ... twice the size of the GDP of Cambodia, so relatively large in a Southeast Asian context. It's also small when we compare it to other parts of the world, where it's much less, obviously, than what you have in terms of e-commerce in China.

Read the Bain Brief: So You Want to Win in Southeast Asia E-commerce?