Opportunities for Australian e-commerce exporters in Indonesia and across Asia

It’s well known that COVID-19 triggered a boom in online shopping. Is there more we need to know?

Absolutely. First, the scale of it and second, the opportunities fast opening up in countries which might not be top of mind when you’re thinking about e-commerce.

Okay, fill us in on the scale of this shift in behaviour

In 2021, 57% (4.4 billion) of the global population have access to the internet. 51% of the global population is accessing the internet through a mobile phone.

Online access is rapidly shifting purchasing habits. In 2019, fewer than 1 in 7 retail sales across the globe happened online. By the end of this year it is expected to be 1 in 5.

That might not sound like a big difference but it represents billions of dollars — and major opportunities for Australian exporters.

Why does this shift to e-commerce matter to Australian exporters?


More than 2.14 billion people worldwide are forecast to buy goods and services online in 2021, and the genie is not going back into the bottle. Around a third of consumers surveyed in the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States now prefer shopping for their groceries online rather than in store.

But here’s the kicker: e-commerce retail is expected to grow exponentially in some of Australia’s most important export markets. For instance in India it is forecast to increase by over 300% by 2025, compared to 2019.

Forecast growth is even higher in Indonesia: more than 400% over that same period.

Tell us more about the opportunities in Indonesia

Population size matters when looking at statistics for online purchasing. For example, only 3% of Indonesians currently use e-commerce. But that equals 30 million people and a A$10 billion market.

Take-up is fast. Indonesians are among the world’s most enthusiastic digital consumers, with the market expected to grow to A$51 billion in the next 5 years. The uptake of ecommerce is driving opportunities in payments and fintech.

ABF media

Indonesia also has the highest number of tech start-up ‘unicorns’ (companies valued at more than US$1 billion) in Southeast Asia. This group includes platforms Tokopedia, Bukalapak and Shopee.

Indonesians are mobile-first e-commerce consumers

Currently, 58% of online purchases are made on a mobile device. And cross-border e-commerce is booming. There was an 814% increase in imported e-commerce parcels between 2019 and 2020.

Rapid digital change is helped by the fact that the government is investing heavily in digital and physical infrastructure to assist local businesses adapt to the impact of COVID-19.

What are the opportunities for Australian exporters?

Historically, many successful retailers in Australia haven’t used online methods to trade internationally, because existing platforms did not favour scale across multiple products and geographies.

But improvements in platform and delivery technology – and new shopping behaviours – are opening up new possibilities. These should not be ignored.


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