THE FUTURE OF RETAIL IN ASIA – Trends to watch in 2019

The Asian retail scene is no stranger to eyebrow-raising headlines. In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen a store that can drive itself to your doorstep, Walmart buying a (highly disputed) 77% stake in Flipkart, Zara’s skirt slammed for looking like a Thai grandpa’s uniform… and, of course, USD 25 billion of online shopping just in one day. It’s hard to keep up, we know. The battle is real for everyone. The in-store manager frets about e-commerce luring shoppers away, while e-commerce players scramble for the most efficient last-mile strategy. And the biggest question everyone wants to know the answer to – how do you keep delighting Asian shoppers who seem to be more connected, better informed and more demanding by the day? Here we highlight some tactical opportunities that you can tap into to fuel your next winning retail innovation. The trends we have selected point to where shopper expectations are headed, and to why your company should take note.

  • All-in-POS
  • Big guys going small


Mobile, mobile, mobile. Highly accustomed to mobile-powered, on-the-go shopping, Asian consumers will expect to summon retail experiences as they would a genie from a lamp – called forth from a smartphone, a smart speaker, or even their surroundings. An on-demand M-POS lets users engage with your brand, browse products, test and purchase in new ways.


Access anywhere. After years of halting progress, 2017 was the year shared-everything mushroomed in China and spread across Asia. Bikes (we’ve all seen the graveyards!), powerbanks, umbrellas, basketballs, even karaoke booths and gym pods were reimagined. The result? Consumers now expect smartphone-powered, on-demand access to anything as and when they need it. Mobile payments. Southeast Asian consumers will make USD 32 billion in mobile payments by 2021 (Euromonitor, 2017). A consumer with a mobile wallet is a consumer who can make a purchase anywhere. Not only do consumers expect M-POS, they are very well-equipped to engage with it. Tech tidal wave. From the continued-growth of QR code use in China, to iOS 11’s ARKit, to Google Home launching in Southeast Asia (with a Singlish-speaking Google Assistant to boot), there is no shortage of new tech flooding the region, bringing the offline world online. Retailers now have endless new opportunities to embed a little magic into the real world!


Like a genie Go beyond mobile. Personal (smart) shoppers for everyone.
Big guys going small

Giant retailers have found a new way to conquer fragmented Asian markets: by empowering mom-and-pop stores. These small kiosks – whether it’s warungs in Indonesia, or kiranas in India – understand local preferences better, are convenient and are often preferred to online shopping or big stores. Large retailers are empowering these kiosks and giving them a digital makeover, recruiting the outlets as FOOT SOLDIERS to delight more customers.


Online maturity. Growth in e-commerce is slowing, and meanwhile, 85% of all retail sales in China still happen in physical stores (Boston Consulting Group, October 2017). It’s imperative for Asia’s growth-hungry retail giants to capture this offline market. Kiosks still dominate. Locals still love kiosks and small stores. There are 7 million family-run mom-and-pop stores that dominate retail outside big cities in China (Oliver Wyman, April 2018). These kiosks are often the source of largest retail growth as well, such as in countries like India. Easy alliances. Retail platforms and small stores make the perfect pair! Alibaba,, Amazon and the likes gain logistics hubs and physical touch points, strategically placed in community nodes. At the same time, kiosks are more than happy to receive tech support from giant players to help earn more money.


Go beyond conventional services. Mom-and-pop stores have evolved from delivering snack-able products to snack-able services – think postal services, phone top-ups, money transfers and more. What more can they become? Think big! What would it take for them to become entertainment, education, or even health hubs?

Pick your empowerment focus. Don’t get left behind, our experts are here to answer your questions about to leverage retail trends in Asia. Get in touch today!

Youtap uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.