Indonesia, with its huge (young) population is one of the darlings of South East Asian e-commerce, and even the closure of the TikTok Shop in October 2023 couldn’t stop that trend. Let’s take a closer look at why live shopping is popular in Indonesia despite that move.

What makes Indonesia an attractive ecommerce market for consumer products?

Partly it’s the sheer size of the demographic.

Indonesia has a population of over 270 million people, making it the 4th most populous country in the world, and of those, there are more than 230 million internet users. Those are huge numbers which are obviously attractive to any company looking to market their products online.

Although rapid urbanisation is taking place, one of the drivers of online business lies in the fact that the nation consists of more than 17,000 islands, has over 700 local languages, and a predominantly digital-savvy, young population. This makes the country challenging for supply chain specialists and also means that ecommerce is a popular solution for consumers.

In Indonesia market, 78% of consumers have heard of and know about shopping alternatives through livestreaming, 71% of them have accessed it, and 56% of them admitted have purchased products through live streaming during pandemic. 

Ipsos

In fact almost two thirds of Indonesia’s consumer spending is online, so only slightly less than China. This is fueled by a rapid digital transformation powered by smart phones combined with the young population. Buying online is a convenient option

What are the figures behind online sales?

Live shopping commerce is on the rise, with 69% of Indonesian shoppers engaged. This trend offers businesses innovative ways to showcase products, contributing to the growth of ecommerce.

According to 2023 data from Rakuten Insight, Indonesian consumers exhibit varying online shopping habits. The majority (37%) shop weekly, with 36% shopping several times a week. Additionally, 15% shop less than once a week, versus 10% who shop almost every day. Only 2% never engage in online shopping.

Shopping online is something that consumers do habitually in most cases.

Livestream shopping provides consumers an interactive experience that is different from brands, they feel directly connected to the brand, even though by online. In addition, livestreaming shopping services add more value to the relationship between brands and consumers,

Soeprapto Tan, Ipsos in Indonesia Country Manager

If Ecommerce and Livestreaming is so popular, why did TikTok Shop have to close?

According to Statista, Indonesia was listed as “partly free” in the Freedom on the Net index, which places the country ahead of less free Asian online markets such as China, Thailand or Malaysia but behind Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. This rating is due to blocked political and social content as well as various restrictions and violations of user rights, most notably through the governmental passing of the Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE Law). The ITE law holds strong penalties such as prison sentences and high fines for anybody convicted of online defamation charges. 

This law, is also the reason why TikTok Shop was forced to close in Indonesia (TikTok is still allowed but the direct social commerce part had to shut down). The reasoning that the government gave was to essentially separate social media and ecommerce so that local small & medium traders could be better protected. They also wanted to prevent the market being determined and controlled by an algorithm as well as stopping the use of personal data for business purposes.

Just to give you an idea of the scale: TikTok made up around 5% of the online transaction value turnover in 2023, so was by far the leading social media platform with direct sales.

The closure of the TikTik store is only a part of the Indonesian live shopping evolution though – live commerce in Indonesia is forecast to continue to increase.

Why live shopping is popular: the rise of live shopping in Indonesia

The rise of livestream commerce originating from China has been a notable trend in ecommerce in recent years. Livestream commerce, also known as live shopping, merges entertainment and ecommerce by broadcasting live video content to present and sell products directly to consumers.

This innovative approach enables immediate interaction with sellers and instant purchases, blending the excitement of live video and social media engagement with the convenience of online shopping.

Surely that’s just like 1970’s teleshopping though?

Well, kind of… But to understand, especially in the Indonesian context, why live shopping is popular you have to also consider the background of the pandemic and the dispersed nature of the archipelago’s geography.

So the “hockey stick” growth for live shopping in Indonesia came during the pandemic when merchants were looking to create a shopping experience for consumers even though they were not able to leave their own homes. And of course this very immediate and interactive discussion which is able to take place both with the seller and also other viewers is a part of the convenience of live commerce because you don’t have to spend hours researching a product, but have the chance to ask questions directly and get opinions.

Often also, consumers feel a kind of urgency to buy because there are special offers during the live stream itself, and sellers are under pressure to keep their content relevant and entertaining at the same time. This was certainly one of the key reasons for the success of TikTok where impulsive young consumers were often motivated by their favourite influencers to buy products.

What are the benefits of live streaming for businesses?

Whilst it’s highly competitive, the advent of live-streaming means that smaller companies can reach more consumers online and engage them in direct conversations after catching their eyes with creative content.

According to a report by Tech in Asia, livestreaming can also lead to an increase of up to 625x more product detail page views, a 262 times increase in shop visits, and drive up to 100% of the shop’s daily orders. If you’re a smaller business, previously restricted to an offline location on one of the less populous islands that can be a huge boost.

Who are the main channels now that the TikTok Shop is no longer working?

Although Tokopedia were one of the first platforms to offer this kind of live commerce in Indonesia it’s Shopee Live who’ve managed to capture more than half of the volume and value in the total live commerce Indonesia space.

Additionally Lazada (owned by Alibaba) as well as the other local platforms Blibli and Bukalapak are also active here.

Prior to the new law with it’s ban of direct transactions on social media, other social media platforms were also jumping on the popular bandwagon, which has now stopped.

I should probably also clarify that whilst TikTok Shop is no longer active, it doesn’t mean that there are no live streams on the platform, but you can’t buy directly from there – you have to go elsewhere for that. However, there are rumours that Bytedance is trying to buy 75% of Tokopedia, according to the Financial Times, which would certainly change the narrative within Indonesia.

Whether the ban on combining ecommerce and social media will remain is of course a question for the future.

@irynaai

This is insane! Social selling factory in Indonesia! This is UGC industrial mass production. This is a content creation factory! ???? #contentcreation #content #contentcreators #production #massproduction #wow #wowtech #indonesia #bali #ugc #contentcreationtrick #playstation #eccomerce

♬ Dancin – ShinnCV Remix – Short Version – ShinnCV

Which Approaches do you as a Brand need to Use to Benefit from this trend?

First of all, I’d remind you why live shopping is popular: it’s in that sweet spot between convenience and fun for the client so you need to keep things that way.

Keep it fun

Attention spans are not getting any longer, and so whilst you need to stay true to your brand values, you also need to capture the attention of your consumers in a noisy space and then hold it long enough to get your message across. You have a brutally short couple of seconds to pull someone in before they scroll on by…

Games (with prizes of course!) as well as AMA (ask me anything) type sessions will all help to keep viewers engaged, before that instant hit of dopamine with the instant gratification element of buying online.

Product tutorials, or interviews with relevant KOLs (key opinion leaders) will help both inform and entertain your viewers. So think a bit outside of the box around what you can do to keep changing things up – that way viewers will return even when they don’t originally intend to buy. This will help your reach with the algorithms.

Allow your consumers to voice their opinions

User generated content (USG) is a really powerful tool, especially if you are working in overseas markets. Your brand voice might be very typical of your home market, so also hearing inputs from a local can be worth its weight in gold.

There are three primary factors driving the rise of user-generated content in Indonesia. For starters, it strengthens trust in the product’s origins. Second, people are more likely to follow the advice of a friend or acquaintance. Finally, it’s inexpensive and, in some cases, completely free.

Hypefactory

Your aim as with all marketing is to generate an emotional connection to the audience and there are few ways so raw and “authentic” as allowing your users to voice their thoughts.

Carefully select the right influencers to collaborate with

Nielsen studies show that consumers are 92% more likely to buy on the recommendation of someone they know, like and trust. These days that person is more likely than ever to be an influencer (mega- or micro-) so selecting the right collaboration partners for your brand can accelerate your success. You may be able to also use material created with any global collaborations you have, but realistically for live shopping in Indonesia, you need a local influencer who will also be able to address the audience in Bahasa.

Consumers can be fickle these days though so any kind of influencer marketing needs to be closely monitored. Look at the way former stars such as Austin Li have been torn down in China for making mistakes or various kinds that have caused brands huge reputational damage.

Be responsible in your approach

There are 3 main facets to this:

  1. Product: To buy something online implies a certain level of trust. The consumer can’t touch, feel, try the product as they would in an offline setting so they have to be convinced that your products will keep what they promise in terms of quality and durability.
  2. Legal framework: There’s more to this than “just” your brand’s reputation though. With the laws tightening around how live shopping in Indonesia can be done, you need to make sure you do everything you can to remain within those laws. That’s potentially not always easy when you are working in collaboration with external influencers and people also ask questions in a live setting that might be outside the acceptable boundaries.
  3. CSR: Beyond this, it’s also about “Corporate Social Responsibility”, as consumers care increasingly about the stance their favourite brand takes on the topics which are important to them. In Indonesia for example gender equality is something that is especially important for women consumers, and brands such as BLP Beauty have made their position clear. As a often low lying island nation, the environment is also of increasing concern – global warming is contributing to Jakarta’s precarious situation and if you are a country at least partly dependent on tourists, you need to also offer suitable surroundings…

Creative yet consistent wins the day for live commerce in Indonesia

It goes without saying that your content should be of “high quality” (whatever that means) but this can be tough to produce on a consistent basis. Make sure you give sufficient thought to what is important to your ideal customers – you’re looking to sell, not merely to entertain them. For beauty brands, this could be an emphasis on the halal certification for example, or underlining the health benefits of a new snack or drink if you’re in the food space.

You need to vary the type of live shopping experience that your offering the audience in order to keep them engaged and coming back for more, but it’s also a case of playing the longer game and being consistent.

In Indonesia both long (even long form blogs) and short form (videos) content are popular, so make sure that you’re offering a mix and catching the eye of your audience on as many channels as is practical. There’s no point simply using a “watering can” approach and sprinkling a little effort onto everything with nothing done really well, but if you want to convince consumers that you are serious and successful then you need to be on multi-channels. Not all consumers prefer to buy online, so using a unified brand voice across as many channels as you are able to reasonably manage will give you a high number of touchpoints to capture the attention of as much of your potential audience as possible.

Geofencing marketing can be worth your consideration

This is using GPS or location data to initiate certain marketing activities, which can be valuable in a market spread over 17000 islands!

Simply put, proximity-based marketing makes use of radio frequency identification (RFID), global positioning systems (GPS), wireless local area networks (Wi-Fi), and cellular data to initiate specific live streaming commerce, such as text messages, social media ads, emails, or app notifications.

Hypefactory

Brands such as Grab, Pizza Hut and Gojek have used this tactic to inform potential consumers of promotions or special offers in their immediate vicinity.

Consider how you can use innovative tech developments such as AR

Augmented reality (AR) is a technological development that offers a lot of fun opportunities for creating interactive content. It’s a way of differentiating yourself from the crowd in Indonesia right now, with brands such as L’oreal and Toyota having experimented with using it for their marketing.

Will you be leveraging the benefits of live streaming for your business in Indonesia?

In a country with both a young well-educated population as well as huge geographical diversity, it’s hardly surprising that there’s a rise of live shopping in Indonesia. It allows young people to combine their love of “edutainment” and social media whilst following their favourite influencers and giving them topics for discussion with their friends.

And of course for brands, it’s in many ways easier to reach a far wider audience with the right online strategies. If Indonesia is a market that you are targeting with your FMCG brand then you certainly need to be thinking how to adapt to live commerce, and to keep engaging your target consumers with innovative marketing content.

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Kathryn

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