Over the past two years, the pandemic has hastened the move to online shopping and the use of the internet for services such as online medical consultations, learning and entertainment. The global health crisis has led to over 60 million people in Southeast Asia using the internet for the first time for everything from staying in touch with friends and family to doing their weekly grocery shopping. 

This move to a reliance on eCommerce is likely to remain as people experience the benefits of having goods and services delivered right to their homes. Similarly, many brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants and service providers saw the benefits of providing online purchasing options. As the sector continues to evolve, this need for speed has become a driving factor, with quick commerce in Southeast Asia rapidly becoming part of the economic landscape due, in part, to consumers being unwilling to wait 3 to 5 days for delivery. 

The quick commerce startups Southeast Asia saw emerging have primarily been in the Food & Beverage (F&B) sector, with food deliveries increasing by 64% since the beginning of the pandemic. However, increasingly, other categories are developing as manufacturers and suppliers of all types of products and services feel the pressure of the consumers’ desire for fast delivery. 

We take a look at some of the emerging trends in the quick commerce (qCommerce) field and how they will impact the startup ecosystem of Southeast Asia. 

Logistics shake-up

The COVID-19 crisis saw the logistics firms that specialise in last-mile delivery flourish. With people remaining in their homes for long periods, for many, the desire for rapid delivery of items ordered online became a factor in choosing vendors. According to one survey, 80% of those polled stated they wanted same-day delivery, with 61% eager to receive their items within 1-3 hours of ordering. Another study found that globally, 76% of people were willing to pay extra for faster delivery.

Many logistics companies had to become more agile, rethink their supply chains and change how they delivered to counteract the fact that 90% of eCommerce complaints focus on delivery delays and to meet increased consumer demands. Developing warehouse and storage hubs in strategic locations is becoming crucial in a region as spread out and vast as ASEAN. Warehousing became a $300 billion USD industry in 2021 and is likely to continue to grow at a CAGR of 10.5% until 2027. 

Dark stores, retail facilities that become order fulfilment centres, have also increased in the region, with super app Grab opening their first in Malaysia to help with the delivery of fresh produce, groceries and other household essentials.

With unicorns such as Grab, Gojek, and Ninja Van investing in logistics technology, it has become an essential cog in the wheel of quick commerce as it strives to speed up the delivery of goods to the consumer. Easier package tracking, increasing efficiency and transparency in the logistics sector will help qCommerce merchants to provide their services and increase customer satisfaction. 

The rise of qCommerce in Southeast Asia

Astro and Dropezy are attracting attention and funding in Indonesia due to their quick commerce offerings. Thanks to promising to deliver “anything you need, fast”, Astro has raised $27 million USD in January 2022 with investments from AC Ventures, Sequoia Capital India and Global Founders Capital, among others, to help with its expansion plans. 

Meanwhile, Dropezy also offers fast delivery, with over 2,000 items available to be delivered within 15 minutes to customers in its catchment areas through its app. It recently received $2.5 million USD in pre-Series A funding from investors such as Next Billion Ventures, Forge Ventures and Nordstar. It plans to use some of the investment money to expand its reach by opening more dark stores and fulfilment centres throughout the greater Jakarta area. 

Delivery Hero was born in Sweden but now serves over 40 countries globally, including the Southeast Asian market with its Foodpanda and Baedal Minjok brands. It branched out from merely food & grocery deliveries into the qCommerce space when it launched Logistics-as-a-Service in 25 countries. It recently teamed up with Chinese tech giants Xiaomi to deliver electronics in Singapore and Thailand through its Foodpanda network of couriers. The partnership also sees the Foodpanda app as standard for any new Xiaomi phones sold in many Southeast Asian countries. 

With unicorns such as Xiaomi, Grab and Gojek investing in quick commerce in Southeast Asia, it is not surprising that this sector is seeing an influx of investment from venture capital (VC) funds. The future for online shopping globally is enmeshed in the capabilities of logistic firms and couriers to deliver products to the consumer, and in this technological age, the faster, the better. 

The more quick commerce startups Southeast Asia produces in the coming years, the more investment the region will see.