Six Southeast Asian E-Commerce Business Thought Leaders You Should Know About

Six Southeast Asian E-Commerce Business Thought Leaders You Should Know About

Southeast Asia is estimated to become a $200 billion e-commerce market, according to a study conducted by Google and Temasek, Singapore’s think tank, by 2025. That value is based on the number of factors: the region’s population is young, the emerging economies are in an upswing, and more importantly, the region’s internet users spend the most time online in the world—an average of 8.2 hours—according to the latest survey by WeAreSocial and Hootsuite.

It makes sense then to stay updated on the biggest names in the region's e-commerce industry. By getting to know the big names behind the region's e-commerce platforms and businesses, it'll be easier to stay-up-to-date on the challenges and trends influencing the industry.

Below are some of the thought leaders one should follow to gain insights on the region’s e-commerce scene.  

E-Commerce Thought Leaders in Southeast Asia

Quote from “Deep-diving into Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’ grocery stores” story on OCC Strategy Website

1. Pascal Martin

An OC&C Strategy Consultants Partner, Pascal Martin has served as speaker in regional business events like Bloomberg Asia’s Bloomberg “Bridging the Divide” summit in December and as a special guest on evening news shows, like CNBC to discuss the booming Chinese market, especially in the luxury e-commerce sector. 

OC&C has three decades worth of experience in retail consulting, from data analysis to M&A work, with offices in various parts of the world, including Brazil, Shanghai and London. 

As one of its retail consulting partners for more than a decade, Pascal has discussed various topics on e-commerce from the impact of the trade wars between China and the US to the newfound meaning of Singles’ Day Sale for Alibaba. Currently based in Hong Kong, Martin specializes in the consumer good sector of Greater Asia and China. He is also a founding investor in, one of Japan’s leading e-commerce sites, giving him the unique position to be on both sides of the industry. 

E-Commerce Thought Leaders in Southeast Asia

Quote from “More should be done to improve gender diversity in Singapore & Malaysia’s e-commerce market”

2. Jeremy Chew

The content marketing head of price comparison site iPrice Group does more than just represent the company. Since the online shopping aggregator counts e-commerce platforms as its partners, the company has turned its valuable data into a useful quarterly study of the industry. Since the study’s first iteration in 2016, iPrice has produced insightful looks on the trends of sales events like “11-11” to the most visited online marketplaces of locals. 

In the process, the quarterly study has become a valuable source for consumers and experts alike. Chew oversees the production of these materials, which have similarly become valuable sources for his thought leadership pieces on the state of e-commerce in different markets in the region published on e27, too. It’s a clever way of making a name for a company virtually unknown to those who may not be well-versed with the e-commerce community in the region. 

E-Commerce Thought Leaders in Southeast Asia

Quote from “Azran Osman-Rani: 6 Entrepreneurship tips young Malaysians need to know” on iProperty Website

3. Azran Osman-Rani

The founding CEO of AirAsia X, the Malaysia branch of the regional low-cost airline, Azran Osman-Rani is now an esteemed leadership and business speaker, with books, talks, and even a documentary about his life work. After leaving AirAsia X, Rani went on to become the CEO of iFlix Malaysia. Today he leads his own health service startup called Naluri. 

His extensive experience as chief executive of some of the biggest companies in Asia has made him a thought leader on entrepreneurship. Rani is now a regular fixture on e-commerce seminars and summits, as he shares some of the business models and innovations that helped him lead both traditional and digital companies

E-Commerce Thought Leaders in Southeast Asia

Quote from “Why Southeast Asia Is Leading The World’s Most Disruptive Mobile Business Models” on TechCrunch

4. Sheji Ho

A former contributor for Techcrunch, aCommerce Chief Marketing Officer Sheji Ho is no stranger to sharing his insights online. He has been writing stories on the e-commerce scene in Southeast Asia long before he moved to Bangkok in 2013 to become one of the founding members of e-commerce solutions provider aCommerce. 

Since then, he has been publishing his forecast on the trends set to flourish every year on aCommerce’s company website, and other publications. While he may occasionally mention some of the company’s products, he still provides a deep and keen understanding of the industry. He talks in detail of the newest acquisitions and strategies employed by Asia’s biggest startups and its implications on how business will be done in the region in the coming year. 

E-Commerce Thought Leaders in Southeast Asia

Quote from “East-Commerce: China E-Commerce and the Internet of Things”

5. Marco Gervasi

The Italian entrepreneur has been based in China for two decades, serving as a business consultant for venture capitalist firms, startup founders and other executives. In 2015, he published a book on the bustling e-commerce industry in China titled “East-Commerce, A Journey Through China E-commerce and the Internet of Things.” For this book, Gervasi interviewed executives from the country’s startup giants like Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, and Xiaomi, providing an early look at how the companies will change e-commerce in the next decade. 

Gervasi has since become a fixture in regional summits on retail and e-commerce. 

Quote from Channel News Asia interview

6. William Tanuwijaya

The man behind one of Indonesia’s first unicorns, William Tanuwijaya has risen to become an influential figure for small businesses as he grew e-commerce site Tokopedia into a US$7 billion company. The 38-year-old CEO doesn’t publish much thought leadership pieces, but he’s a regular figure in business summits and talks, discussing not just his business but the state of e-commerce in Indonesia, too. In various interviews, he has advised founders on how to train employees to become entrepreneurs themselves and how to find the right investors.

Learning from e-commerce industry giants

From Martin to Tanuwijaya, there's no shortage of inspiration to take from the thought leaders behind Southeast Asia's biggest e-commerce platforms and businesses. In a region fraught with potential, these leaders are likely to have an outsize impact on e-commerce in general. 

Pay attention to what they do and your business might just come out on top. 

-Written by Joanna Viegan

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