In November 2018, Google & Temasek predicts that the internet economy in Southeast Asia(SEA) will reach US$72 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) mark by 2018. A big chunk of the valuation will be held by the e-commerce sector valued at approximately US$102 billion by 2025. To reach that goal, the study also mentions that a bigger talent pool of internet economy professionals will be required to realise the industry’s full potential.
As such, we conducted a study to analyse the e-commerce workforce in SEA. To derive our findings, we analysed employee data and hiring trends of the biggest e-commerce players in SEA based on the Map of E-commerce Q3 data. This study was conducted through LinkedIn and covers Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Employees Hired Grew 40 Per Cent in 2 Years
We analysed the hiring trends of SEA’s top e-commerce players and found that workforces of the largest players grew an average of 808 employees per quarter between Q4 2016 and Q3 2018, which is equivalent to 40.7 per cent over the 2 years period.
Among the players, Lazada hires the highest number of employees. By October 2018, there are 6659 employees working for Lazada around SEA. On the other hand, Shopee grew the number of their employees the most. Over the two years period, Shopee increased their hires by 177 per cent, from 1384 to 3831 employees. Except for Zalora, all other top e-commerce players saw a soaring trend in hiring.
Rapid Investments on Start-ups in Singapore Boosts Career Opportunities
Singapore, deemed as world's no. 1 for start-up talent by Startup Genome, overtaken Silicon Valley, is an important battleground for most of the start-ups in Southeast Asia. A study conducted by Google and Temasek observed start-ups in Singapore has raised the highest number of deals in the internet economy industry of SEA. By 2018, 1000 deals are raised followed by Indonesia, second at 500 deals. The same study also revealed internet economy companies headquartered in Singapore continued to attract the vast majority of funding in Southeast Asia, bringing the total amount raised since 2015 to $16 billion in Singapore.
e-Conomy SEA 2018 report by Google and Temasek
With the high amount of investment entering the lion city, it offers more career opportunities for Singaporeans as talents are needed to sustain the growth in the industry. In e-Conomy SEA Spotlight 2017 research, talent is identified as the most critical and unresolved challenge for the development of SEA’s internet economy. There remains a gap between the industry’s demand and the talents needed in the region.
A survey done by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) found that fewer fresh graduates get jobs within the first six months. However, the survey done by recruitment firm Monster.com showed that 79 per cent of Singaporean respondents are willing to take on a job not within their expertise. Although e-commerce industry is still relatively young compared to industry such as engineering, banking, medicine and more, with survey showed that Singaporeans are open to venture into new expertise, the increasing demand of the industry is a golden opportunity for those looking for a new career, especially fresh graduates.
Long-Term E-commerce Specific Talents Needed
According to our study, departments with the highest number of employees are operations and marketing. Following in third and sixth place are the engineering and IT sector. According to a market study, the real challenge comes when employing highly-skilled professionals in functions such as software engineering, digital marketing, data science, and product marketing. Hiring people for these technical roles has been particularly challenging as the rapid growth of e-commerce meant that there was no prior supply for the digital workforce in previous years.
Mitigating this issue requires the participation of both recruiters and the upcoming workforce. A spokesperson from Facebook Indonesia stated that digital companies need to move away from the traditional hiring process to adopt a more effective style in hiring new employees.
Resolving this issue would include rethinking interview processes and internal expectations to prioritise candidates who are self-motivated, and effective in problem and conflict resolution. This means putting a lower importance on hard skills and industry specific knowledge. Recruiters from the digital sector should invest their resources in training their workforce to mitigate the lack of technical skills and knowledge.
Lastly, the upcoming generation should be made aware of the great potential of e-commerce in order to be inspired and motivated to start a career in the digital arena. This requires the active involvement of both educators and e-commerce players through collaborative initiatives aimed to inspire and show what it takes to thrive in the digital economy.
About iPrice Group
iPrice Group is a meta-search website where Singaporean consumers can easily compare prices, specs and discover products with hundreds of local and regional merchants. iPrice’s meta-search platform is also available in six other countries across Southeast Asia namely in; Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.