Most of those e-commerce sales happen on phones. Apps such as China’s WeChat, South Korea’s KakaoTalk, and India’s Paytm that combine an array of features like banking, shopping, and social media into one place are already common and only becoming more so. By 2023, 81% of e-commerce could take place over phones in Asia-Pacific, research firm Forrester predicts, versus 43% in the US.

Social shopping is an influential force too. In China, the live streaming of demonstrations of products successful and still-growing phenomenon. Brands have been using it to drive sales, and Bain points to Chinese influencer Li Jiaqi racking up sales of lipstick with livestreams on Alibaba’s Taobao and on Douyin, the Chinese version of short video app TikTok. This year, the number of Chinese shoppers who make a purchase via livestream will rise 35%, Bain predicts.

China, set to become the world’s largest retail market in 2020, is at the forefront of many of these innovations. But mature economies such as South Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Australia are following close behind, while others including India, Vietnam, and Indonesia are modernizing fast, Bain says. It’s having repercussions for how companies operate within Asia-Pacific, and also beyond.

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