Even with its relatively recent arrival in the country, eBay sees huge potential in the Indonesian market.
The world’s largest online marketplace was officially introduced in October through its partnership with plasa.com, an online store owned by Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), and an eBay executive said earlier this week that it still had plenty of room to grow in e-commerce.
“The past few years have been more difficult because we used to be so good in doing c2c [consumer to consumer] business, but now we are going out of our comfort zone,” Oliver Hua, the eBay Marketplace chief executive for Greater China and Southeast Asia, said in Jakarta this week.
Hua said eBay was fortunate enough to enjoy a quick start, but after growing larger during the past 15 years, it is currently experiencing a “midlife crisis” and needs to learn new things to grow even bigger.
Jason Lee, the head of Southeast Asia and the Middle East for eBay Marketplace, said the online giant selected plasa.com as its local partner because of its marketplace business, which uses Telkom as its backbone.
“Since we have partnered with plasa.com, we have seen a lot of growth in e-commerce [in Indonesia],” he said. There have been hundreds of thousand transactions through plasa.com so far, he added.
Hua said Asian shoppers have different customs than those in the United States. Most people do not want to spend too much time to pick items in the United States, while shoppers in Asia are willing to take more time with their selections.
“We need to have more Web sites and merchandise online because those will drive the demand,” he said. According to Hua, the Indonesian market has similar characteristics to other Asian countries, but with a different environment.
He said the growth of e-commerce in China happened within five years of eBay’s arrival there.
In India, though, the online shopping market is not growing as fast as has been expected, even though the US-based company has been on thesubcontinent for more than five years.
Lee said he believed Indonesia’s growing use of social networking outlets such as Twitter and Facebook could provide a path into a huge market.
Hua said eBay Marketplace has three options in Indonesia - set up its own branches, partner with a domestic company or acquire an existing local e-commerce player.
The Indonesian market is stronger in categories such as crafts, fashion and home and garden, he said, adding that the demographics for eBay Marketplace is mostly men with a higher education background than the average population.
“Online shopping does not necessary reduce the entire shopping budget. Sometimes people will shop more instead,” he said.
Since 1995, eBay has connected millions of buyers and sellers across the globe. Its operates in more than 1,000 cities worldwide, including six countries in Southeast Asia.