Since the start of the pandemic, Vietnam has seen eight million new digital consumers join the digital marketplace, with 555 of them rural consumers, a testament to the country’s thriving digital landscape and consumer market. While largely fuelled by the pandemic, 97% of these new consumers are still using digital services post-lockdown, with 99% intending to continue. 

Considering Vietnam’s unprecedented growth, the country’s 2021 gross merchandise value (GMV) is expected to reach a total of $21 billion, a 31% year-on-year surge. Unsurprisingly, this upward trend can be seen throughout Southeast Asia. In fact, the region saw a massive digital uptake with over 40 million new consumers in the region's digital economy. Powered by the likes of Shopee and Lazada, e-commerce has increased the region’s GMV by 62% to $120 billion in just one year. Similarly, a key reason underpinning Vietnam’s high digital penetration is the surge in e-commerce (53% increase). 

wireless smart city
In Southeast Asia, home to over 440 million internet users, an extraordinary shift towards the digital world paved the way for the growth of the internet economy // Photo on  Shutterstock

Sectors expected to grow in parallel with Vietnam’s up-and-coming digital era include transportation, food and beverage (35% increase) and online media usage - music, videos and gaming - which is expected to jump 30% in 2021. 

Vietnam’s digital reform marks the beginning of a new era of opportunities, especially for those wanting to invest their time and money in the global trade of Vietnamese consumer goods.  Notably, e-commerce giants provide a platform for local Vietnamese brands to showcase their products to a global audience and increase market penetration. When asked, up to 30% of online merchants said they do not believe they would have survived the pandemic if not for online e-marketplaces such as Tiki, Lazada and Shopee.

e-commerce sites in Southeast Asia
Five of the 10 most visited e-commerce sites in Southeast Asia last year were based in Vietnam // Photo on Shutterstock

These figures were shared in E-Conomy, a report put together by Google, Temasek Holdings and leading management consulting company Bain & Company. The report also stated that Vietnam remains an attractive innovation hub for foreign and local investment. This is likely due to the ongoing legislation and efforts of the Vietnamese government to attract investment. 

The recently approved National Digital Transformation Programme of Vietnam aims to accelerate digital transformation through changes in awareness, enterprise strategies, and incentives towards the digitalization of businesses, administration, and production activities. 

This includes:

  • Providing a fiber optic internet infrastructure to cover 80 percent of households and 100 percent of communes.
  • Incentivising 70 percent of customer transactions to happen through digital channels
  • Digitizing all national databases including those for business registration and finance in a centralized information system

Sources: E-conomy Report, Vietnam Briefing, Vietcetera

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