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Taiwan's Growing E-commerce Market Lures International Brands

Zara proves the latest overseas brand to target Taiwan's ever expanding number of online consumers.

Photo: International brands: Targetting the Taiwan online shopping market. (Shutterstock.com/TungCheung)
International brands: Targetting the Taiwan online shopping market.
Photo: International brands: Targetting the Taiwan online shopping market. (Shutterstock.com/TungCheung)
International brands: Targetting the Taiwan online shopping market.

With the ubiquity of mobile devices and the change in consumer spending habits, Taiwan's e-commerce market is seen as offering the potential for enormous growth, with the number of online users rising every year. According to data from the Institute for Information Industry, Taiwan's e-commerce output value is expected to reach NT$1 trillion (US$30.82 billion) in 2015.

Data from MasterCard's latest mobile shopping survey shows that some 62.6% of Taiwanese consumers have shopped online over the past three months. This ranks the territory third in the Asia Pacific region, trailing only China and India, and suggests that online shopping is increasingly a routine part of commercial life for many Taiwanese consumers.

A closer look at the products bought online suggests that software is making greatest progress, with more traditional goods lagging behind slightly. Overall, the top five products purchased online by Taiwanese consumers are online games (31%), mobile apps (24%), discount coupons (23%), clothing and accessories (22.7%), and personal, skincare and cosmetics products (14.7%).

In the case of clothing and accessories, many fashion brands have actively developed their e-commerce business in recent years, considering this an indispensable commercial channel. As a result, both home-grown labels and international brands have prioritized their online offering. Taking a lead from Japan's Uniqlo and the US's Gap, Zara, the Spanish fast fashion retailer, has also now entered the Taiwanese online shopping market. This makes Taiwan the 28th territory where Zara's products can be purchased online. As with Zara's high street stores, the online channel also provides a 30-day warranty period.

The arrival of these international players highlights the appeal of Taiwan's e-commerce market. For many foreign brands and products, fostering partnerships with the local online shopping channels, or even setting up their own online shopping websites in Taiwan, offers the most effective route to reaching the territory's growing number of online consumers.

Tammy Hsieh, Taiwan Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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