The next battleground for e-commerce is Indonesia

The variety online is greater too.
The variety online is greater too.
Image: Reuters/Beawiharta
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Indonesia doesn’t get a lot of attention for its internet commerce, but as the world’s fourth most populous country—after China, India and the US—the potential size of the market is staggering, and an e-commerce war is heating up.

Numbers released today by TokoBagus, an Indonesian Craigslist, show just how big the opportunities could be. Tech in Asia reports that TokoBagus exceeded one billion monthly page views in July, with an average of 25 pages per visit according to the site’s chief operating officer. Roughly calculated, that means TokoBagus received 40 million visits per month—a huge jump from the 10 million monthly visitors it reported in April.

Challenging TokoBagus is Kaskus, a site that started life as an online discussion forum but has lately turned its focus to e-commerce. According to Tech in Asia, Kaskus claims 600 million monthly page views on 40 million monthly users. These numbers are not that far off from Craigslist, which claims 60 million visitors in the US every month.

So who is winning? TokoBagus is older and better established as a venue for buying and selling stuff, so it is unsurprising it commands the lions share of page views. And unlike online publications, which make money from showing ads and therefore depend on growing their audience, the number of unique visitors is less important for e-commerce sites. It doesn’t matter whether one person is visiting the site a dozen times or a dozen people are visiting once, so long as the visits lead to sales. Indeed, the fact that individuals users visit an average of 25 pages on TokoBagus indicates that they’re browsing for goods rather than just dipping in and out.

These numbers are only going to grow. According to McKinsey, the proportion of Indonesians in the “consuming class,” which it defines as people with net annual incomes greater than $3,600, will double to 85 million in the decade to 2020. Moreover, the size of the e-commerce market is forecast to double since last year to $8 billion in 2013. Indeed, Tokopedia, another online marketplace, is seeing shipments rising between 10% and 20% every month, and eBay entered Indonesia last month with a site called Blanja. Indonesia has never been hotter.