Taiwan has often been quick to adapt to new technologies. Most famously, its innovations in semiconductor manufacturing enabled it to develop into a major global player. Now, it seems, that same innovative mindset is behind the nation’s surprisingly quick adoption of the C2C market and related technologies such as Rakuten’s Rakuma Taiwan application.
This new model of peer-to-peer commerce and its rising popularity was discussed by a panel of experts at the Rakuten Future Forum Taipei on May 27.
Mr. 486, an e-commerce specialist and prominent blogger, said he likes to call the new C2C economy “We-commerce.” He explained it was made possible by the emergence of mobile phones as platforms for buying and selling. Many sectors of the Taiwanese economy are being transformed by mobile phone-based businesses, he said, noting that, “54% of Taiwanese use their mobile phones for shopping.”
One early result of expanded mobile phone usage is that weekends, which were once considered dead zones for e-commerce, are now critical, Mr. 486 explained. “Moms can keep shopping even in traffic jams,” he said.
This trend was confirmed by IDC analyst Helen Chiang, who noted that “3 out of 5 Taiwanese use online media to decide whether or not to buy,” before explaining that growth in the C2C market is “natural” in the context of improved mobile and app technology.
While these trends may seem surprising given the aging population of Taiwan, Joyce Yang, an executive at Shopee, suggested that improved user experience was driving this growing trend. Yang explained that Taiwan has always had an online shopping culture, but better technology, more reliable systems and a more intuitive user experience have simplified the learning process for both sellers and buyers. The result, according to Yang, is that where setting up an online store used to be slow, expensive and difficult, “now anyone can set up a store instantly.”
Yang also noted that the C2C market is attracting new users to e-commerce – people who had not routinely shopped online in the past. “C2C is a brand new segment. In response to market needs, we have to optimize interface, social features, computing data, push notifications and other elements,” she said.
The panelists also discussed another factor behind the rise of the C2C market in Taiwan: the human connection.
Jacob Chen, the Country Manager of Rakuma Taiwan, explained that one thing users find attractive about C2C is that it “integrates social and communication into e-commerce platforms in easier ways. It’s not just (about) transactions, but also (about) sharing their thoughts about products and life.”
Joyce Yang concurred. People seem to be seeking an experience that is “both authentic and trustworthy. They want to connect with real people,” she said.
This same lesson was echoed in Alex Stephany‘s keynote presentation, also held on May 27, in which he explained that one of the driving forces behind the “sharing economy” is the ability to connect to and establish a relationship of trust with the person from whom you are buying services or goods.
Whatever the reason – be it the increased use of mobile phones, improved user experience, ease of purchase or simply the desire for a human connection – Taiwan’s embrace of the C2C economy looks set to continue.