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Vietnam, similar to Indonesia, has an interesting eCommerce scene as some of its local eCommerce marketplaces are able to compete toe-to-toe with industry giants.
In iPrice Group’s map of eCommerce in Vietnam1, local platforms Tiki2 (a retail company), The Gioi Di Dong 3 (electronics re-seller), and Sen Do4(consumer-to-consumer marketplace) had the 2nd, 4th and 5th highest number of monthly visits. Not surprisingly, they were joined by regional leaders Shopee and Lazada in 1st and 3rd place, respectively.
The country has embraced eCommerce, with 90 percent of stores5 saying they have online outlets. Regulators have also supported the industry—in 2018, the government relaxed regulations on promotions6, such as increasing the discount rate for goods during concentrated promotions from 50 percent to 100 percent. While these relaxed rules are not specific to eCommerce, it’s no secret that online platforms and sellers tend to tout extremely high discounts during major online shopping events.
We delve deep into these shopping events in Vietnam, driven by both eCommerce industry giants, cultural celebrations, and a burgeoning online consumer class. The latter makes up almost 40 percent of the population—the country is home to 92 million people, among whom 35.4 million are eCommerce users7.
Tết is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, which is celebrated at the beginning of the Chinese calendar—in other words, it’s on the same days as Chinese New Year. Usually celebrated in January or February depending on the Lunar Calendar, Tết was celebrated from 4th to 8th February in 2019. In 2020, Tet will be celebrated from 24th January to 30th January.
It’s the busiest time of the year for the country, with Vietnamese abroad and in major cities going back home to visit their families.
Shopping takes place in the weeks before Tết, as people prepare to buy gifts for their loved ones. Traditionally, this shopping rush also happened earlier because many malls would close during Tết. More recently, plenty of shoppers have shifted towards online shopping8 for Tết to avoid holiday crowds at brick-and-mortar stores.
Apart from gifts, the Vietnamese also like to purchase new clothing9 for the new year, including ready-to-wear ao dais10 (traditional long dresses). In fact, according to eCommerce marketing company Criteo, fashion made up 86 percent of online sales11 during the Tết 2018 shopping period.
Electronics, such as smartphones and tablets, are also in high demand during the Tết shopping season. iPrice Group observed that The Gioi Di Dong experienced a surge in search interest1 during the season. The Gioi Di Dong is a Vietnamese eCommerce marketplace that specialises in selling electronics and smart devices.
Having been introduced fairly recently, major shopping periods like 9.9, 11.11 and 12.12 which are synonymous with the likes of Lazada and Shopee are beginning to pick up steam in Vietnam.
With Shopee topping the eCommerce popularity charts in Vietnam1, its 9.9 Online Shopping Day has become rather popular in the country. In 2017, Shopee sold certain products in the auxiliaries, beauty, fashion, health, household appliances, and technology categories at just VND9,00013 (or around US$0.4) during 9.9.
However, Lazada is still a major player during this sale event. In 2018, it launched LazMall13, a Southeast Asia-wide online mall, in time for 9.9. The company observed that electronics, beauty, mother and baby products are popular purchases in September. Vietnam along with other Southeast Asian markets contributed to Lazada’s total 10 million shoppers14 during this period in 2018.
Singles’ Day (11.11)
In 2018, Vietnam’s participation in the Singles’ Day sale—held annually on November 11—increased by 240 percent15 compared to the same event in 2017. Participation remained high among shoppers in urban areas like Ho Chi Minh Cities and Hanoi, while an increasing number of shoppers joined from smaller provinces. This likely implies that Vietnamese consumers are increasingly familiar with 11.11 and anticipate as an important annual promotion period.
Ahead of the sale, eCommerce platforms, especially Shopee, Lazada and Tiki, rolled out mobile-based promotions on their respective apps. One of the most interesting promotional campaigns came from Shopee, which ran a live interactive TV show16.
12.12 in 2018 broke records for Lazada, with Southeast Asian consumers buying 30 times more products17 than normal-day gross merchandise values. The eCommerce giant spread out 12.12 across three themed shopping days in Vietnam—Bestsellers of 2018 on December 10, Holiday
Shopping Finale on December 11, and Lazada’s Top Picks on December 12.
Electronics, cosmetics, and shoe brands topped Lazada’s brand leaderboard during the sale, while sales for fashion, health and beauty products more than tripled from 2017 to 2018.
While not as big as Tết or the double-digit shopping days, the events in this section are still viable promotional sales periods for your eCommerce store.
Black Friday sale—the day after Thanksgiving—has made its way to Southeast Asia thanks to eCommerce platforms eager to usher in year-end shopping sprees. In Vietnam, both offline and online stores offer major discounts as high as 90 percent18.
In a survey conducted for Black Friday 2018, reported by Viet Nam News19, around 36 percent of Vietnamese responded that they would shop at brick-and-mortar stores during Black Friday. Another 27 percent chose online shopping, while 36 percent said they would shop both online and offline. This showed an increasing trend of online shopping preferences among the Vietnamese.
Online Friday20 is Vietnam’s home-grown eCommerce sale event, which was launched in 2014 by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce. It is held on the first weekend of December and encompasses both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales.
To give you a hand in remembering all the hottest sales periods in Vietnam, here’s an infographic that compiles all the dates mentioned here:
iPrice Group identified major promotions16 run by eCommerce platforms in Vietnam during 11.11. While some of these, such as in-app games, need to be implemented by the brands or marketplaces themselves, others can be adapted by online sellers to increase their sales during Vietnam’s shopping events.
Offer discounts and promote them ahead of a major online event. You can provide discounts through vouchers, coupons, and games on a social media page.
Run flash sales by the hour during a huge eCommerce event, like 9.9 or 11.11. You can use flash sales to increase traffic to your online store during non-peak hours. Keep in mind that by-the-hour sales might not work best for cultural events like Tết, as the Vietnamese tend to shop before the holiday and may be busy celebrating on the day itself.
While you may not be able to design an in-app game, you can still do run a fun campaign on your social media page. A simple game could involve a guess to an answer or a multiple-choice question. Keep these games mobile-friendly, as many Vietnamese shop online using their smartphones21.
With the popularity of local eCommerce platforms, it’s easy to see that any online seller targeting Vietnamese consumers needs to communicate with them on a local level. When expanding your eCommerce store overseas, speaking the language of your target market gives you a competitive edge. Understanding the local context is even more important, though.
Know what time of the year is most special to the Vietnamese and what they love to buy. While some things—such as a preference for fashion and electronics among online shoppers—might appear universal, nuances lie behind every statistic. While online sellers who take time to understand these nuances and local preferences increase their chances of eCommerce success, don’t forget to team up with a shipping partner with flexible, end-to-end eCommerce logistics and international shipping options.
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Interested in SEA’s hottest online sales periods? Find out more with our collection of blogposts:
Interested in eCommerce in Vietnam? Find out more about Vietnam’s eCommerce here:
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