As the Vietnamese eCommerce industry has grown, it has attracted the attention of not only major worldwide brands looking for a new market to tap, but also multinational marketplaces seeking to become the default shopping destination for the country’s close to 100 million people. Meanwhile, Vietnamese companies have been fighting to establish themselves and keep the market in local hands in the face of stiff competition from overseas. This has made for an exciting, competitive, and fluctuating B2C market as marketplaces from at home and abroad battle for dominance and the loyalty of the growing but still cautious Vietnamese consumer base. In this article we profile the three B2C marketplaces that have fought through this hotly contested battleground to claim the top spots.
In terms of website traffic, Shopee is the top dog in Vietnam. A veteran of eCommerce clashes throughout Southeast Asia, Shopee entered with a bang into the Vietnamese arena as recently as 2016. In just three short years, Shopee has held off homegrown challengers and defeated old rivals from other SEA markets to claim the top spot.
Identifying early on Vietnamese consumers’ hesitancy and low levels of trust when it comes to online purchases, the platform rolled out its Shopee Guarantee scheme to reassure consumers. User ratings for sellers, buyer reviews for products, and openly displayed seller response times made the platform seem more open, honest, and transparent for many users.
The most successful Vietnamese B2C platform in the country, the B2C web-store began life in 2010 as an online bookstore (echoing global giant Amazon’s humble beginnings). Now it is second only to Singaporean regional player Shopee in terms of monthly traffic. But the company’s successes aren’t limited to its homeland – in 2018, Tiki received investment from JD.com (backed by Chinese behemoth Tencent) to the tune of 44 million USD, and launched a China-exclusive cross-border service called Tiki Global.
Like Shopee, Tiki also targeted consumer hesitancy towards eCommerce, with a particular focus on customer service. This has been if anything more successful than Shopee’s efforts, with Tiki boasting the highest customer satisfaction rate of any eCommerce platform in the country, and a glowing reputation among Vietnamese consumers as a whole. Tiki reinforced this by taking control of its entire end-to-end supply chain, leveraging its home-field advantage against challenges from overseas marketplaces.
Another of SEA’s major players, Lazada entered Vietnam earlier than rival Shopee, back in 2012. For years, this gave Lazada an early advantage – Lazada was more established than Shopee, having gotten in at the ground floor, while being better prepared for large-scale eCommerce than local rival Tiki due to years more experience in the eCommerce sphere and international backing.
However, this strong lead it held onto as late as Q1 2018 dramatically slipped towards the middle of that year, and now Lazada finds itself playing third fiddle to both of those B2C marketplaces. With renewed backing from Chinese megacorp Alibaba, Lazada hopes to reverse this change in fortunes, but will have to redraw its plans now that both Tiki and Shopee have matured into experienced and accomplished players in Vietnamese eCommerce. Especially when some local consumer feel the company has made a mistake by focusing on celebrity endorsements and ‘game-ification’ of the shopping experience instead of focusing on customer experience and trust in the service.
While not a B2C marketplace that sells a wide range of different product categories, it is absolutely worth mentioning the success of The Gioi Di Dong, Vietnam’s largest mobile phone retailer. This company’s online online platform falls just short of Lazada’s monthly visits, and is entirely native to Vietnam, not having taken any foreign investment. Though not a general B2C marketplace for multiple product categories, this is a homegrown platform that any foreign company wanting to sell phones in Vietnam should pay close attention to.
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