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Taiwan's love affair with mobile drives m-commerce innovation

M-tailers are customising their apps and offer to meet the requirements of Taiwanese consumers.

Photo: Mobile shopping: a top Taiwan trend. (Shutterstock)
Mobile shopping: a top Taiwan trend.

Almost exactly half the adult population of Taiwan now owns a smartphone or tablet, according to the latest official figures from the territory. In total, 10.53 million people have such devices, accounting for 49.5% of the population over the age of 12. Inevitably, such a demographic has had a huge impact on the uptake of "mobile shopping" in the region.

The 2013 figures from Udn Shopping (maidongxi), Taiwan's leading e-commerce platform, bear this out, with the last 12 months showing a 25% rise in m-commerce across the territory. In order to fully capitalise on this trend, Udn has now introduced a number of tablet-optimised apps. These have been designed to simplify the purchasing experience for tablet users and feature larger photos, ease of interaction and a tailored screen size.

Groupon, the US-based group-buy website, has also sought to customise its offerings in Taiwan in line with consumer preferences. This has seen it introduce a mobile app delivering instantly redeemable deals. This replaces the previous practice of consumers having to print out such deals and have them validated by a merchant before completing the transaction.

The company has also introduced a fujin haokang facility ("deals nearby") for its Taiwanese customers. By activating the GPS function and using this facility, Groupon deals in the consumer's immediate vicinity can be located, maximising purchase convenience. This has proved particularly popular in Taiwan, where consumers typically prefer to purchase leisure-related services (including theme park rides and hot spring bookings) via their mobile devices.

Faster delivery and wider pick-up options

The growth of online and mobile purchasing in Taiwan has, as in other markets, had a huge knock-on effect on a number of ancillary sectors, most notably logistics. This has seen major developments both in terms of home delivery and the number of available pick-up-locations.

Photo: Optimised shopping apps. (Shutterstock)
Optimised shopping apps.

With the launch of its "speedy delivery" service in 2007, PChome established itself as a key player in Taiwan's online shopping sector. The e-commerce giant has now introduced a "Taipei six-hour delivery" offer, allowing consumers in the city to make orders (for most items) in the morning and receive the shipment in the afternoon. In order to maximise the uptake of the service, such delivery was even available throughout the Lunar New Year period.

In terms of non-home deliveries, the number of options open to consumers has grown hugely over recent years. Most significantly, Taobao, one of the mainland's leading e-tailers, has teamed up with FamilyMart, one of Taiwan's largest convenience store operators, to offer "order on Taobao, pick up in  FamilyMart". This allows Taobao shoppers to pick up their orders at their nearest store, without the need to worry about arranging for secure home deliveries. Typically, the orders are available in-store within 4-7 days of the date of ordering. All orders can also be tracked, with delivery schedules said to be readily available.

Currently there are more than one million Taobao subscribers in Taiwan. In 2013, transactions during Taobao's "Double 11" shopping festival enjoyed a 180% year-on-year increase. With FamilyMart now offering 3,000 additional drop-off points for the company across Taiwan, its market penetration will inevitably increase in the coming months.

Sylvia Yeh, Taiwan Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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