Besides E-commerce platforms, social network service (SNS) is recognized as one of the most common channels for online shopping in Vietnam. In July 2019, Ho Chi Minh City-based market research firm Q&Me conducted a survey in order to further understand the norms and insights that Vietnamese consumers have on SNS shopping compared to other platforms.
Social media still remains relevant in Vietnam’s E-commerce industry
E-commerce Platforms versus Social Media
E-commerce platforms are frequented by 91% of the survey sample, followed by SNS (43%), brand websites (20%) and online supermarkets (19%). These sites are accessed mainly through smartphone applications while other browsers and devices merely take up a small portion. A few big names in the E-commerce industry are Shopee, Lazada, Tiki and Sendo.
SNS buyers’ favorites are fashion and beauty items
Fashion and beauty products dominate online consumption, surpass other popular items like tech gadgets, maternity & baby products, FMCG, food & beverages and stationaries by a huge gap. Surprisingly, 55% of Vietnamese online shoppers prefer to shop for fashion on social networks and only 41% choose E-commerce platforms.
And by social networks, what people really mean is “I buy this on Facebook”. The study shows that purchases through Facebook account for 89%, leaving a tiny remaining 11% for Zalo, Instagram and other sites.
Why SNS shopping?
Researchers went deeper to explore why Facebook can become such a giant marketplace for Vietnamese users. Here is what they found out:
- One-app experience: SNS shoppers like the experience bundled in just one app, from finding the product to checkout. Since people are already spending hours on social media, the chances of them scrolling through something captivating is significantly higher than E-commerce platforms – people have to be looking actively to be on these sites.
- Instant Support: Via social media, customer support comes almost immediately as soon as they put a comment on the store. Especially for fashion and beauty items that often require consultation, buyers are satisfied that their questions are quickly answered which fastens the purchase progress. On E-commerce platforms, it might take hours or days before the supplier reply.
- Direct communication: Vietnamese consumers prefer getting all the information they need via chat instead of going through the hassle of looking for information themselves. Direct communication is a vital part of store service as it humanizes the buying process and brings customers closer to the brand. Even though buyers have to repeat their information every time they make a purchase, Vietnamese don’t see it as a big burden. E-commerce platforms support automated information and different payment methods but it doesn’t make much of a difference as the most common choice for payment is cash-on-delivery (CoD).
Vietnamese consumers value instant support and direct communication above others
- Product variety: People come to E-commerce sites when they have a specific in mind and want to find the cheapest available. Price-based decision making might be suitable for FMCG products, but there are more factors to consider with prominent items like fashion, beauty and gadgets. SNS shops tend to specialize in a certain category which gives customers a range of products that they favor.
Given the above reasons, it seems logical that fashion and beauty products take over the SNS shopping sector. These products require consultations to find the perfect fit for each customer and they also come with a wide variety of options with no specific price ranges.
Vietnamese cultural behaviors also contribute to the SNS shopping trend as we are experiencing a rapid rise in social media usage. Earlier this year, VnExpress reports 50 million SNS users with a daily average of 2.5 hours. Moreover, we are too familiar with chatting as a method of getting information – a feature that social media fulfills way better than E-commerce platforms.
Advice to sellers
Based on these findings, we have some recommendations for you, if you are planning on entering the Vietnamese market any time soon:
SNS is a powerful tool for sellers who are able to utilize it
- Sell on both: E-commerce platforms and SNS appeal to various customers demographics with different purposes. Therefore, it’s best that you establish your presence on both grounds in order to reach as many people as possible.
- Chat talk is key: The study also points out that 88% of SNS shoppers chat with the store for more information. Be prepared to respond to inquiries right away or create your own chatbot, because your customers’ don’t like to be kept waiting and aren’t committed enough to look for information on their own.
- Advertising: On the top 3 sources of store visits, social network ads and search account for 42% and 20% respectively. The stats prove that advertising is still the best way of reaching your potential audience. Meanwhile, building a solid reputation is important as well since Friends’ recommendation comes second with 36% of store visits.
- Build brand loyalty: Two-third of online purchases are from repeat customers who are satisfied with the product and service. Make sure that your brand is relevant to current customers and provide them with exclusive promotions to drive up the rate of return.
E-commerce platforms are working really hard to fill their differences with SNS shopping by user-friendly interfaces and faster customer service. Follow the rise of technology, online payments are making gradually become familiar with Vietnamese people as well. Nonetheless, SNS has one major advantage that is not going away any time soon: The huge amount of time people spend on social media which enables them to be captived unconsciously by products they don’t even know they want.
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