Digital 2019 Spotlight: Ecommerce in Vietnam
Our latest research shows that there are now 59 million internet users in Vietnam, while GlobalWebIndex reports that 78 percent of Vietnamese internet users aged between 16 and 64 already shop online.
Statista puts the number of Vietnamese ecommerce shoppers even higher. The company’s Digital Market Outlook (DMO) study found that almost 50 million people in Vietnam bought consumer goods online in 2018, spending a combined USD $2.2 billion.
The average ecommerce revenue per user is still relatively low, though. Vietnamese shoppers spent an average of just US$46 each on consumer goods over the course of last year, although this figure doesn’t include spending on travel or digital media purchases.
However, the good news is that Vietnam saw strong growth in online spend in 2018, with the value of online consumer goods purchases increasing by almost 30 percent compared to 2017.
You can explore the country’s broader digital landscape in our complete Digital 2019 Vietnam report below, but read on for a closer look at all the latest ecommerce data and insights.
Note: this article contains a number of updates to statistics featured in the report above. Also note that some of our data providers have recently changed their reporting methodologies, so some of the figures we reference in this article will not be directly comparable to figures published in the report embedded above, especially for internet and social media users.
Ecommerce in Vietnam
Consumers in Vietnam spent roughly US$6 billion on online purchases in 2018, more than US$1 billion higher than the total for the previous year.
Travel purchases made up the majority of total spend (59 percent), with Vietnam’s e-travel sector worth close to US$3.5 billion in 2018.
However, consumer goods generated 38 percent of the country’s ecommerce value, with 2018 sales of products like electronics, fashion, toys, and groceries totalling more than US$2.2 billion.
Within the consumer goods sector, electronics purchases account for the greatest share of value, although purchases of fashion and beauty products aren’t too far behind.
Vietnamese internet users are less likely to pay for digital content, however, with Statista’s DMO data indicating that the digital music sector is particularly weak.
Vietnamese people spent just US$21 million on music downloads and streaming services last year, equating to an average revenue per user of just over US$1.
Vietnam’s internet economy is enjoying strong growth, however, with overall market value increasing by more than 20 percent last year.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given that it already accounts for such a large share of the market, the travel sector is growing more slowly than the broader market, with 2018 sales up just 16 percent compared to 2017.
However, the value of consumer goods purchases grew by 29 percent year-on-year, with the Food & Personal Care and Toys, Hobbies & DIY categories both enjoying growth rates in excess of 30 percent.
Furthermore, Statista’s data indicate that Vietnam is one of the three fastest-growing online grocery markets in the world, with category sales value up an impressive 38 percent between 2017 and 2018.
This isn’t just good news for the country’s online grocery retailers, either. As we explored in a previous article in this series, many people shop for grocery items on a regular basis, and as an increasing share of this activity moves online, shoppers become increasingly familiar with online shopping.
Provided these regular grocery experiences remain positive, this increased familiarity should drive greater confidence in online shopping as a whole, which in turn may lead to increased ecommerce activity across all categories.
Given the potential significance of the grocery category for the country’s ecommerce industry as a whole, we’ll take a closer look at Vietnam’s online grocery sector in a dedicated section later in this article.
Top ecommerce retailers in Vietnam
SimilarWeb’s data suggest that Shopee’s Vietnamese website attracted an average of 34 million visits per month between June and August 2019, compared to roughly 24 million visits a month to Lazada’s local site.
Meanwhile, local platform Tiki.vn comes out in the top three rankings for both website traffic and mobile web use, with the company’s website attracting an average of 27 million visits per month over the past three months – 3 million more than Lazada’s local site.
Amazon’s global offerings also appear in both the mobile app and website rankings, but SimilarWeb’s free data doesn’t break out the global site’s traffic by country.
Interestingly, however, it appears that Vietnamese shoppers’ platform preferences vary depending on which device they’re using.
Local platform Adayroi is one of Vietnam’s top five mobile shopping apps, but the company’s website doesn’t place in SimilarWeb’s ranking of the country’s top ten transactional websites.
Conversely, local players thegioididong.com, chotot.com, and dienmayxanh.com all rank in the country’s top transactional websites, but don’t appear in App Annie’s ranking of the country’s top mobile shopping apps.
Online grocery in Vietnam
Statsita’s DMO data show that food and personal care items accounted for the smallest share of Vietnam’s online consumer goods market in 2018, but with sales increasing at a rate of close to 40 percent per year, that may soon change.
Grocery research specialists IGD Asia predict even more rapid growth for the country’s online grocery sector, with the company’s forecasts suggesting that sector spending will double every year between 2017 and 2022.
Despite this impressive growth, however, online shopping will still only account for a small share of Vietnam’s total grocery market, and IGD Asia forecasts that ecommerce will still account for less than 0.5 percent of total category spending by 2022.
However, this may still be cause for optimism amongst retailers exploring the potential of the Vietnamese market, as this low base suggests there is plenty of scope for continued strong growth throughout the next decade.
For context, the US$348 million that Vietnam’s ecommerce shoppers spent on online grocery in 2018 accounted for roughly 0.6 percent of the country’s total grocery market of US$63 billion.
Online grocery in Vietnam: key players
Shopee comes out top of both App Annie’s and SimilarWeb’s current ranking of ecommerce players in the country, but it’s unclear what share of the platform’s revenues relate to grocery-specific purchases.
It’s a similar story for Tiki.vn and Lazada, who hold second and third places in both rankings (although they swap places between the lists). Both sites offer a range of grocery items, but the extent to which these offerings contribute to either site’s overall success is unclear.
SimilarWeb’s data suggest that online supermarkets Lotte and Bách Hoá XANH both attract more than 1 million visits each month, while Now.vn – a food delivery service which also offers a range of grocery items – sees an average of roughly 3.5 million monthly visits.
Meanwhile, App Annie ranks Lotte’s mobile app in Vietnam’s top ten shopping apps, which has particular significance for the potential of the country’s online grocery category.
All of these findings point to the fact that there is growing interest in online grocery shopping in Vietnam, even if that interest hasn’t yet converted into significant sales value.
Barriers to ecommerce growth in Vietnam
The United Nations reports that just over one-third of the country’s residents live in urban areas, with the majority of the population still dispersed across rural areas.
This population dispersal may make it more difficult and expensive to scale fast delivery across the country, which could have particular consequences for Vietnam’s online grocery sector.
As we’ve seen across many of the other Southeast-Asian nations in this series, payments are also an important consideration in Vietnam, with the country experiencing some of the lowest levels of credit card penetration across the world’s larger economies.
Barely 1 in 25 adults in Vietnam aged 15 and above owns a credit card today, while less than 1 in 3 has a bank account.
However, consistent with a trend we’ve seen across many of the country’s Southeast-Asian neighbours, people in Vietnam have been quicker to adopt mobile wallets.
Research from GlobalWebIndex finds that close to 40 percent of internet users in Vietnam already use a mobile payment service each month, putting the country ahead of the global average.
Ecommerce outlook: Vietnam
Trends in recent data suggest that Vietnam should experience meaningful growth in the value of its ecommerce industry in the coming months.
However, with the country starting from a relatively small base, there’s still some way to go before online retail accounts for a meaningful share of total consumer spending in Vietnam.
How does that compare to countries across the rest of Southeast Asia? Find out in our complete collection of articles in this series.
Looking for more data on Vietnam? Check out all of our previous country reports by clicking here.