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E-commerce to steal spotlight from retail: Yahoo Taiwan (update)

2014/06/23 17:13:17

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) Yahoo Taiwan Holdings Ltd. said Monday that the growing popularity of handheld devices and rapid changes in consumer behavior mean that e-commerce will soon outperform traditional retail stores.

Taiwan's e-commerce market is expected to reach NT$1 trillion (US$33.7 billion) by 2015 and will soon take over half of the local retail market, estimated at NT$4 trillion yearly, said Jacky Wang, head of Yahoo Taiwan's e-commerce group.

Growing at an annual rate of some 20 percent, Taiwan's e-commerce transactions totaled NT$767.3 billion in 2013, Wang said, citing statistics.

"Consumers have less and less time to spend on window shopping; instead, they spend more time surfing the Internet and buying things online," Wang said at a luncheon in Taipei.

"The changes in e-commerce over the past two years have been more significant than those that happened seven to eight years ago," he said, adding that e-commerce providers and even retail stores "have to catch up with this global trend."

Mobile e-commerce in particular has great potential, as nearly 40 percent of Yahoo Taiwan's online shoppers surf the web via their tablet computers and smartphones, said Wang, a veteran of the e-commerce field with over 10 years of experience.

Yahoo Taiwan is now building its own ecosystem for the local e-commerce market to grab more opportunities and thus business, he added.

In addition to integrating its five e-commerce platforms -- Auction, Store Marketplace, Shopping Mall, Service Plus and Discount -- Yahoo Taiwan said it has developed a targeted yet comprehensive app for online shoppers.

With the popularity of handheld devices, Yahoo Taiwan has seen some increases in online transactions during commuting hours and lunch breaks, periods of time when e-commerce had tended in the past to drop, said Wang.

The company also sees now as an ideal time to develop the online to offline (O2O) business model, because smartphones and tablets can serve as the link between the two.

Users can use barcodes as discount coupons and swipe products they want to buy at stores and have them delivered within a few days after the purchase, he said.

Foreign companies also see great potential in Taiwan's market. Google Inc. and the Taiwan unit of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. recently teamed up to seize a larger share of the e-commerce field here.

Under the partnership, Google will provide its AdWords keyword tools to boost website traffic and sales for over 2,800 Taiwanese online retailers on e-commerce portal Rakuten, which will provide its own consulting services to small and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan interested in using Google's service.

(By James Lee)