Indonesia

Unpacking Indonesian ecommerce: winners & losers in the coming showdown

Fierce competition between Lazada, Shopee, Tokopedia and Bukalapak is driving up costs and accelerating consolidation. Chinese buyers are staking their turf.

Elsa Rosidah’s convenience store serves villagers and visitors to a nearby mosque in the sprawling and sparsely forested outskirts of Pekanbaru city on the tropical Indonesian island of Sumatra. She exclusively traded in cash until October when a sales team from an ecommerce start-up persuaded her to venture online.

Rosidah says that since then she regularly fills her daily credit limit of Rp1 million $70 by buying such items as electricity vouchers and cigarettes online for her customers and charging the digital retailer a small commission. The 28-year-old said the ecommerce site’s special offers were a clincher. 

“They offered many discounts and other marketing gimmicks. They...

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