March 1, 2013, 12:00 PM

Editor's Letter: Making sense of the Asia opportunity

E-commerce in Asia, the subject of this month's cover story, is booming in a way that can be difficult to comprehend.

E-commerce in Asia, the subject of this month's cover story, is booming in a way that can be difficult to comprehend. The sheer size of the region's population—2.65 billion people live in China and India alone, about seven times the population of North America—combined with growing levels of web access and wealth make the region ripe with opportunity. The rise of the middle class, particularly evident in China and India, means there's a consumer base with disposable income available to spend on retail goods. Now, whether these consumers buy these goods on the web or in a store, from a retailer based down the street or an e-retailer based halfway around the world, is up for grabs.

Western e-retailers, sensing the opportunity, are steadily moving into the region. Amazon, Newegg, Vistaprint, Gap and Zazzle are just a few of the familiar names generating significant sales in the region, and all are listed in Internet Retailer's 2013 Asia 500, the newest research guide from Internet Retailer's research division and the first research published to identify and analyze Asia's biggest e-commerce operators.

Internet Retailer research director Mark Brohan, in the cover story that starts on page 26, brings forth original data and insights that'll help e-retailers better understand the region and the obstacles they may encounter in selling to consumers in Asia's 10 largest online retail markets. For example, it took a year of maneuvering for U.S. consumer electronics retailer Newegg Inc. to secure a business license from the Chinese government that enabled it to launch Newegg.com.cn and start building the infrastructure needed to service Chinese shoppers. To get a jump-start in India, printing services e-retailer Vistaprint acquired an existing printing firm there.

The cover story details these e-retailers' experiences and also discusses several Asia-based businesses Western e-retailers should familiarize themselves with. For example, Chinese consumer electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group Co. Ltd. grew its web sales more than 400% between 2011 and 2012 to $4.76 billion, making it the fifth-largest e-retailer by sales in Asia. To put that in perspective, that's just slightly less than what Walmart.com generated in North America in 2011, according to Internet Retailer estimates.

This issue's cover story provides an overview of what is going on in Asia now, where it is headed and what e-retailers here should be thinking about as they look beyond national borders for sales growth. To get more data and insights, visit internetretailer.com/asia500 to buy the 2013 Asia 500, available in print and digital versions, and as part of Internet Retailer's online research database Top500Guide.com. Also stay tuned to the pages of Internet Retailer, as we've got a lineup of stories slated for upcoming issues that take a closer look at the markets and e-retailers influencing the direction e-commerce is moving toward on a global scale.

Allison Enright,
Editor

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