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Who are Indonesia's Online Shoppers?

Katrina B. & Benedict L

Update 14th Jan 2020: Indonesia will be revising its de minimis value down to US$3 from an earlier US$ 75 on the 30th January 2020 as confirmed by Indonesia’s Directorate General of Customs and Excise, Ministry of Finance. You can find more details about how this could affect your shipments, at our latest announcement


Last week, we discussed the drivers of Indonesia’s eCommerce market growth. Here, we’ll find out what makes the Indonesian online shopper behave the way they do.

  • Meet Indonesia’s online shoppers

  • Their motivations for shopping online

  • What influences their online shopping decisions?

  • Where do Indonesians shop online?

  • What are the payment methods Indonesian consumers have for online purchases?


Indonesian online shopper persona - infographic

Meet Indonesia’s Online Shoppers

Meet Arief, our City Convenience Seeker. He lives in Jakarta and earns roughly IDR 120 million (US$8,200) per year working as a software engineer.

In his free time, he likes to watch videos of YouTubers unboxing and reviewing gadgets. He reads extensively about mobile phones before choosing which one to buy. But because he lives in Jakarta, going to the mall to purchase a new phone means driving through hours of traffic. So he buys it online instead, comparing deals between Lazada1 and Tokopedia2. Putri is a professional in her mid-20s who lives in up-and-coming cities like Bandung and make around IDR 80 million per year. She’s one of Indonesia’s Trendsetters.

She likes finding trendy clothes at a bargain and follows Indonesian fashion icons on Instagram. While the city she lives in is experiencing rapid growth, it doesn’t have a wide enough range of apparel stores, including niche boutiques like those that sell K-pop-inspired clothing. She turns to online retail stores like Shopee3 to get her affordable fashion fix, as well as to social sellers on Instagram and Facebook. In another part of the city is a full-time mom of an infant and a toddler.

She relies on a WhatsApp group of acquaintances who share motherhood tips and recommend baby products and kids’ toys. As she needs to care for her children, she has no time to hop from mall to mall looking for these products, and isn’t sure she’ll find them anyway. She purchases the items online. Her friends recommend Orami4 and Bukalapak5. In Surabaya, a young married couple that owns a café is looking for heating lamps. They are our busy small business owners.

With few staff and no time to head out to buy equipment, they find a specialised B2B online marketplace like Ralali6. At the same time, they realise they’ve run out of a few ingredients, and engage a personal shopper via the HappyFresh7/a> app. These four types of shoppers represent the larger eCommerce trends in Indonesia—what people are buying, why they’re buying, and where they shop. More Indonesians than ever are shopping online. In 2015, 18 million people8 in the country made online purchases; this figure may reach 119 million by 2025, according to a report by Google and Temasek9. But what exactly influences them to make these online purchases?

Janio specialises in helping you ship your international B2C eCommerce products to your shoppers in countries like Indonesia!

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Their motivations for shopping online

Why do Indonesians shop online - size of Indonesia's eCommerce market & motivators

Indonesia’s online shoppers visit eCommerce sites for different reasons. A survey by Deloitte10 revealed that 31 per cent of Indonesian online shoppers chose to shop online for the convenience and practicality it provides as their main reason. These practical reasons include avoiding traffic or the ability to compare products and prices among different sellers without leaving one’s seat for example.

On the other hand, 26 per cent of Indonesians cite price as their main reason for buying online, given their ability to compare deals among various sellers. Another 17 per cent cited product range, as eCommerce stores can aggregate the products of different sellers to offer more choices, and even offer items that are not found in the country.

Meanwhile, 14 per cent cited reliable reviews while 12 per cent pointed to promotions as their primary reason for shopping online, such as zero interest rates and free shipping as their main reason for buying online. The reasons further vary by city, according to Austrade8. For instance, those in larger cities like Jakarta shop online mainly for convenience, given the heavy road traffic. McKinsey also found10 that consumers outside of Java tended to save up to 25 per cent on the price of goods when buying them online instead of in brick-and-mortar stores.

This may be because eCommerce operations don’t usually come with other costs often incurred by offline retail networks such as maintaining brick and mortar operations.

What influences online purchase choices in Indonesia?

Before making a purchase, at least 93 per cent of Indonesian buyers conduct Google searches and read customer reviews, and 76 per cent of Indonesian shoppers have bought products through their mobile phones according to research by Hootsuite and Wearesocial12. They also rely on social media to discover products—especially YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, which are the country’s top one, two, and four social platforms, respectively.

You should also bear in mind the influence of social groups on WhatsApp and Line. These apps are among the country’s top social platforms with the highest number of monthly active users. For instance, the industrious mother discussed above relies on the suggestions of her fellow mothers in their messenger app groups when it comes to online purchases for her mom and baby products.

Thinking about expanding your online store to Indonesia? Get the latest tips and tricks in our latest Indonesian e-book, now updated with Ramadan-related info!

2020 Guide to Entering Indonesia’s eCommerce Market

Where do Indonesians shop online?

In Indonesia, as elsewhere, there are several types of online platforms for shopping.

One example of a B2C platform is where businesses sell directly to consumers from their own websites. This is especially useful for luxury brands that aim to maintain exclusivity. For example, one can either shop at the website of jewellery designer John Hardy13 or visit his shops in Bali.

People may also buy from marketplaces, another B2C channel, where different e-tailers sell products. This is the space occupied by the likes of Lazada, Tokopedia, Bukalapak, OLX14, Blibli, Zalora15, and Elevenia16. Depending on the platform, sellers may include both SMEs and individuals, and even the eCommerce company that hosts the marketplace.

One emerging C2C trend is social commerce which allows buyers to connect with individual sellers through online social networks. According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance in 2019, around 64 per cent17 of online purchases in Southeast Asia in 2018 were made via social networks.

Although relatively nascent in Indonesia, social commerce is growing, given the rapid growth in the number of social media users in the country since 2017. Apart from Facebook and Instagram, there are dedicated social commerce platforms like Kaskus18, which started out as an online forum and evolved to leverage its engaged online community by connecting buyers and sellers. Tokopedia also recently raised more funds17 for its own social commerce platform, Tokotalk.

Other creative C2C models include that of AirFrov19, an app that matches travellers with people willing to pay to get them to bring back products from overseas. A majority of the requests are for beauty products, but people may also request food and drinks, household items, clothing, gadgets, accessories, and more. AirFrov operates in Singapore and Indonesia.

Customers might purchase directly from businesses for their availability of supply or because they trust the seller or brand. On the other hand, online shoppers may turn to other consumers to find unique products or affordable second-hand items, such as on OLX.

Our Indonesia eCommerce guide also includes insights on what’s driving Indonesia’s eCommerce growth and the top product categories sold online there. Consider heading over to our Indonesia guide to for your free download.

What are the payment methods Indonesian consumers have for online purchases?

Cash on delivery’s usage to pay for eCommerce purchases is still important but isn’t as prominent as last time, originally being used for 65.3 per cent of digital purchases20 in 2017. In 2019, cash on delivery represents 14 per cent of eCommerce payments according to a 2019 survey by JP Morgan21. In the JP Morgan report, cards are used for 34% of payments, while bank transfers account for around 26 per cent. What’s worth noting is that digital wallets have become more prevalent, now being used to pay for 20% of eCommerce purchases.

The country’s high mobile phone penetration rate has also paved the way for cashless payments to be made via mobile. Tcash is a mobile wallet owned by Telkomsel, the country’s largest mobile operator, which had 178 million subscribers as of June 2018. BlackBerry launched22 its Dana in BBM mobile wallet in March 2018. There are also multiple choices for payment gateway solutions, such as Doku and Xfers.

Different eCommerce platforms offer their own e-wallets as well, or partner with fintech companies to do so. Alibaba, which owns Lazada, has its own payments platform, Alipay. Go-Jek’s Go-Pay can be used by other merchants.

If that sounds like too many options, that’s perhaps because it’s true. See, for example, Tokopedia’s payment options:

However, with all the different modes of payment and Indonesia’s fragmented online payments space, a setup like Tokopedia’s helps eCommerce players cater to a wider audience.

Entering the Indonesian market

For eCommerce players around Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s large population, online activity, and growing consumer class are certainly enticing.

But just because the pie is big, it doesn’t mean you should immediately dive straight in. There are some things you need to consider before entering the Indonesian market.

  • Customs clearance may be slow. To avoid delays and reduce the chances of mistakes, make sure you have complete documents and requirements for customs clearance. It also helps to have a partner who has customs clearance experience in Indonesia.

  • Make available a wide variety of payment options. There are plenty of fin-tech startups who are offering different payment options—but keep in mind that 80 per cent23 of new businesses fail. Spread your options by accepting payments from different online platforms, as well as from mobile wallets, credit cards, bank transfers, and of course, cash on delivery. This will also help you avoid diminishing the user experience by forcing shoppers to create an account with your preferred payments platform instead of allowing them to use the one they like.

  • Indonesia is an archipelago. Some areas will be more difficult and expensive to reach than others. Consider this when estimating delivery times, as well as when choosing your eCommerce logistics model, be it cross-border shipping or local distribution.

  • User experience plays a big role in winning and keeping customers. You not only have to beat the competition—you also have to make your online store visually appealing on smartphones’ small screens, and make sure it works smoothly despite the country’s average mobile Internet connection speed of 9.82mbps.

Lastly, given Southeast Asia’s diversity, it’s wise to observe and learn.

Analyse what makes some eCommerce businesses succeed and what makes others fail. Understand their culture, work with local partners, and steadily win your slice of ASEAN’s biggest eCommerce pie.

To find more on the latest news on logistics and eCommerce in Southeast Asia, consider signing up for our Janio newsletter.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can solve your SEA eCommerce delivery needs, come and have a conversation with us.

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Interested in eCommerce in Indonesia? Find out more about Indonesian eCommerce scene here:




  1. Lazada
  2. Tokopedia
  3. Shopee
  4. Orami
  5. Bukalapak
  6. Ralali
  7. HappyFresh
  8. Austrade: eCommerce Guide in Indonesia
  9. Think With Google: economy 
  10. Deloitte: Embracing bricks and clicks in Indonesia
  11. McKinsey: The Digital Archipelago 
  12. We Are Social: 2019 eCommerce in Indonesia
  13. John Hardy
  14. OLX
  15. Zalora
  16. Elevenia
  17. e27: Tokopedia raise 32m
  18. Kaskus
  19. AirFrov
  20. eMarketer: Indonesia Shoppers
  21. JP Morgan: Indonesia insights on merchant services
  22. Bbm: Bbm and Dana launch mobile wallet
  23. Open A European Company: 80% of Businesses Fail, Here’s Why 

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