E-commerce will steal spotlight from retail: Yahoo Taiwan

File photo of people scanning their cellphones in a subway train in Beijing.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Yahoo Taiwan Holding Ltd. said Monday that the growing popularity of handheld devices and rapid changes in consumer behaviour mean that e-commerce will soon outperform traditional retail stores.

According to the Central News Agency (CNA), Taiwan's e-commerce market is expected to reach NT$1 trillion (S$42.1 billion) by 2015 and will soon make up 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 per cent, revenue from Taiwan's e-commerce transactions reached NT$767.3 billion in 2013, Wang told CNA, 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.

Mobile e-commerce in particular has great potential, as nearly 40 per cent 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.

An earlier survey conducted by the Institute for Information Industry (III) said that Taiwan's e-commerce market will soar over the next few years, as the online shopping sector here is developing rapidly, in line with global trends.

E-commerce Sales to Pass NT$1 Trillion

Growing at an annual rate of some 20 per cent, revenue from Taiwan's e-commerce transactions reached NT$767.3 billion in 2013, and is expected to exceed NT$1 trillion by 2015, III indicated.

Mobile e-commerce is expected to soar, as nearly 18 per cent of the Internet users in Taiwan surf the web via their mobile devices, according to the institute.

And some 30 per cent of the public use their smartphones for commerce, communications and social networking, it said.

With the increasing popularity of handheld devices, "the trend of mobile e-commerce is inevitable," the institute said.

CNA earlier reported that 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 grab more business opportunities in the e-commerce field here.

Under the partnership, Google will offer 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 enterprises in Taiwan interested in using Google's service.