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Despite uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam has still considered a promising market for e-commerce. In the midst of the complicated pandemic situation, online transactions have become a bridge for people to access products that serve their daily necessities. However, Vietnamese brands seem to be on the low end of this shopping trend, leaving domestic businesses at risk of losing important opportunities to overcome difficulties and progress post-pandemic.
To understand the position of Vietnamese goods on e-commerce, the price comparison platform iPrice analyzed nearly 1 million clicks on iprice.vn in the last 12 months, thereby finding the popularity of products bearing Vietnamese brands on the four most popular e-commerce platforms in the country, namely Shopee Vietnam, Lazada Vietnam, Tiki, and Sendo.
The scale and potential of the e-commerce industry in Vietnam have long been known. The 2021 e-commerce white paper from the Department of E-commerce and Digital Economy shows that 49.3 million Vietnamese consumers are currently participating in online shopping, the highest rate in the region.
Combined with the widespread social distancing activities that have taken place this year and the fact that traditional supply chains such as wet markets have been paralyzed, e-commerce plays an even more important role.
In September, a report by Visa Payment Company showed impressive numbers: up to 87% of Vietnamese consumers surveyed now shop online with home delivery and up to 82% have their first home shopping experience after the pandemic hit.
It can be seen that e-commerce during the pandemic is no longer simply an option among distribution channels but is now a vital factor for local enterprises to progress in 2021 and beyond.
However, it is worrying that local enterprises are still struggling to take advantage of this distribution channel. When researching the most viewed items on e-commerce platforms by counting the number of searches and clicks on products, iPrice discovered that Vietnamese-branded products only account for 17% of the total clicks on e-commerce marketplaces in 2020 and the first half of 2021. In contrast, up to 83% of the most sought-after products on e-commerce marketplaces are imported goods.
More worryingly, this number also shows signs of decline from 2020 to 2021.
Specifically, the percentage of Vietnamese-branded goods in the top 1200 best-selling products accounts for 20% during 2020. In which, when comparing between online marketplaces, Vietnamese brands are the most sought-after on the local e-commerce platforms Sendo with 25% of the top 300 most popular products are Vietnamese, followed by Tiki (23%), Lazada Vietnam (18%), and Shopee Vietnam (13%).
Entering the first half of 2021, local branded products only account for 14% of viewed products by consumers, showing a clear decline compared to the previous year. Leading in this index among marketplaces in 2021 continues to be two domestic companies Tiki (21%) and Sendo (16%).
The fact that the two domestic marketplaces Sendo and Tiki ranked highest in terms of Vietnamese goods sold partly shows the high relevance and active support of these two for Vietnamese businesses.
Tiki is the only one of the four that requires all sellers to have a business license. This regulation invisibly reduces the number of sellers specializing in importing foreign goods for resale and creates more favorable conditions for domestic enterprises.
Meanwhile, Sendo made a mark in 2021 with programs in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and has been actively promoting Vietnamese products and agricultural produce from provinces across the country. Recently, Sendo leaders also did not hide their desire to turn this marketplace into a key online business channel for Vietnamese brands.
However, for Vietnamese goods to be more popular on e-commerce, it needs to come from the efforts of domestic enterprises themselves.
The good news is that Vietnamese goods are selling especially well in the grocery category, accounting for a high proportion on the two domestic websites. Sendo has up to 81% of products coming from domestic manufacturers, while this figure on Tiki is 63%.
According to the e-commerce report Q2/2021 from iPrice and data from Google, keyword searches related to online grocery stores increased by 223% in Q2 2021. Search volume increased 11 times in July compared with May and 3.6 times compared to June when the social distancing order under Directive 16 was implemented in some provinces and cities. All that shows the important role that online grocery plays in Vietnam nowadays.
Actual data collected on Sendo.vn for specialty agricultural products of Vietnamese origin shows that the number of these products sold on Sendo skyrocketed by 50% in 2021 compared to the same period last year. Before that, in 2020, this number also increased by 29% compared to 2019.
This company also said that the number of orders for Vietnamese specialty agricultural products in 2021 also increased by 45% compared to last year. Some outstanding events include the successful promotion of Hai Duong vegetables and Bac Giang lychee.
Obviously, the impact of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 has unintentionally created conditions that stimulate the development of the online agriculture category in terms of both supply and demand.
Thus, Vietnam's specialty agricultural products and grocery categories on the e-commerce platforms have become a positive development for domestic enterprises. However, transforming into a "golden egg" industry for post-pandemic e-commerce successfully requires much effort and favorable conditions from many sides, similar to Sendo and the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s previous programs.