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Unlock Southeast Asia’s state of digital commerce: Read commercetools and Merkle’s survey white paper

Unlock Southeast Asia’s state of digital commerce: Read commercetools and Merkle’s survey white paper

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This post is sponsored by commercetools and Merkle.

In 2022, Southeast Asia’s digital sales growth topped the whole world: the region’s eCommerce sales skyrocketed from 2019’s US$37.22 billion to US$89.67 billion, and are expected to cross the US$100 billion mark in 2023.

With a surge in digital commerce comes the need for innovation to satisfy the ever-changing customer demands.

To help brands set out their growth road map, leading composable commerce solution provider commercetools partnered with customer experience company Merkle, and MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, to release a survey about the state of digital commerce in Southeast Asia, unveiling the main eCommerce challenges faced by companies in the region.

The survey says having an inflexible eCommerce system is a major hurdle for Southeast Asian marketers. For instance, 36% agreed the performance of their eCommerce websites is not up to expectations. Also, 56% of respondents found it hard to adapt the user experience in different stages of the customer journey.

The impact of an inflexible eCommerce platform is a disjointed, incoherent customer experience. Over half (56%) of respondents said their customer experience (look and feel, data collection, brand messaging, etc) is inconsistent across different touch-points. Meanwhile, 45% said their product information (pricing, sizes, inventory data, etc) is available only in some direct-to-consumer channels (retail store, website, search engine, social, app, online marketplace, etc).

Last, but not least, an overwhelming (93%) amount of respondents agreed a more flexible eCommerce solution would make a huge impact on their businesses.

A major solution to overcome these challenges is to gravitate towards an agile, scalable commerce infrastructure – this is where headless commerce, the decoupling of the eCommerce storefront and system back-end, comes into play.

Most of the respondents (67%) were willing to learn more about headless commerce, and 50% agreed it was an important component of digital transformation based on their current knowledge of headless commerce.

“It is obvious that brands and retailers are facing unexpected challenges on multiple fronts and have to adapt much faster,” said Ben Eames, head of partnerships APAC, commercetools.

“The ones that can jettison operational overheads and deploy toolsets that will scale, as well as meeting to the customer where the customer needs them, will succeed.”

Added Patrick Deloy, Merkle’s managing director of APAC commerce and loyalty: “The data points of our survey clearly reflect the profound shift we are seeing across brands and merchants in Asia.

“Where previously companies had to contend with the limitations of monolithic eCommerce platforms, a realisation has emerged that a better, more modular digital customer experience is possible – with the right technologies and the right partners.”

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE ran the survey from July to August 2022 and collected responses from 154 marketers across Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The majority of respondents (29.87%) were in the consumer products industry, while 13.63% were from financial services. Rounding out the top five were retail (12.33%), industrial products and services (12.33%), and hospitality (11.03%).

Read the full white paper here.

About commercetools

The inventor of headless commerce, commercetools is an innovative technology disruptor that has established itself as an industry-leading eCommerce software provider. Today, some of the world’s most iconic brands and growth-focused businesses trust commercetools’ powerful, flexible, scalable solutions, to support their ever-evolving digital commerce needs.

As the visionaries leading the modern MACH (microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native and headless) architecture movement, commercetools provides customers with the agility to innovate and iterate on the fly, merge on and offline channels, drive higher revenue, and future proof their eCommerce business.

Based in Munich, Germany, with offices in Europe, Asia, and the United States, commercetools is singularly focused on leading a future of limitless commerce possibilities.

For more information, contact commercetools at [email protected] or visit

About Merkle

Merkle, a dentsu company, is a leading data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company that specialises in the delivery of unique, personalised customer experiences across platforms and devices.

For more than 30 years, Fortune 1000 companies and leading non-profit organisations have partnered with Merkle to maximise the value of their customer portfolios. The company’s heritage in data, technology, and analytics, forms the foundation for its unmatched skills in understanding consumer insights that drive hyper-personalised marketing strategies.

Its combined strengths in performance media, customer experience, customer relationship management, loyalty, and enterprise marketing technology, drive improved marketing results and a competitive advantage. With more than 14,000 employees, Merkle is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, with 50-plus additional offices throughout APAC, the Americas, and EMEA.

For more information, contact Merkle at [email protected] or visit

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