Shopee is an e-commerce company known for being a mobile-centric marketplace, providing customers and retailers with an easy and fast online shopping experience.
The company, headquartered in Singapore, was founded in 2015 by Forrest Li. It is a subsidiary of the Sea Group, the parent company of Garena. Shopee was first launched in seven countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Despite the company being relatively new, Shopee has grown in popularity across Southeast Asia. With the help of its sister company, Garena, Shopee established itself on the pedestal within the first five years of its operation. The company wasn’t afraid to take risks and took advantage of every expansion opportunity to fill in the gaps that its top competitor was missing back then.
It’s not clear how many employees Shopee now has. Although some sources claim it’s over 1,500, others say it’s 10,000 to 30,000. However, the company’s profile on LinkedIn says that the company’s size is within the bracket of 5,001-10,000 employees.
In 2021, Sea, Shopee’s parent company, reported over USD 1.6 billion in GAAP revenue from e-commerce. And this year, it’s targeted to grow to USD 9.1 billion.
How? Shopee has always been an e-commerce giant in the region since its launch, and its aggressive marketing, promotion, and deals contribute greatly to its continuous growth. Shopee makes most of its money via commissions charged on sales.
For instance, during its first year, Shopee introduced itself by letting sellers keep 100% of their profit from the app. With that, many sellers entered Shopee, causing many users and consumers to shift to Shopee. In other words, they let the users (sellers) market the app to reach a wider audience (consumers).
Today, with over 11,000 sellers on the app, Shopee operates in several local quarters across its seven markets. In terms of the workplace, Shopee is known for its open, collaborative environment that lets employees of any position and department brainstorm. Aside from keeping the customers happy, maintaining a friendly work environment is also among the priorities of the e-commerce giant!
Shopee is indeed a fast-growing company after becoming the top e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan within only five years since it was launched. According to the latest reports, the platform reached over 90 million average monthly users in 2020 and more than 200 million downloads in 2019.
Its gross merchandise value surged to 18.2 billion USD in 2021. The revenues generated in the same year, though, have a downward trend. Shopee’s e-commerce revenue in the first quarter was $1.52 billion, down from $1.59 billion in the previous quarter. Marketing and heavy logistics were the primary factors in that year’s $810 million loss.
Most of its users are in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, with over 23%, 16%, and 10%, respectively. Shopee attempted to penetrate the Indian market but shut down after six months of operation due to market uncertainties. Shopee is now available in 14 countries, mainly in Southeast Asia and some in South America.
Shopee’s monthly campaign, known as the 9.9, 10.19, 11.11, and 12.12 sales, achieves annual milestones by doubling daily sales each month. It promotes local stores and malls, as their sales can grow up to 14 times in other countries.
In 2019, Shopee recorded 70 million items within 24 hours with over 13 million deals and 65 million views on their live selling feature. And for this reason, Shopee is undeniably stepping up its game in e-commerce in Southeast Asia. Not only are customers pampered, but the company’s sellers increase by roughly 60% each year due to the high demand and SME-friendly atmosphere they provide.
The methodology by which competitors of Shopee are ranked is based on various data points. Information such as the revenue generated, the number of employees, the number of available countries, the number of sellers on the platform, app downloads, and anything else relevant are being taken into account.
This analysis is based solely on Shopee’s data and statistics to ensure comparability. Its sister companies and parent, SEA, are therefore not considered. Also, because the company’s market is mainly in Southeast Asia, similar companies in other regions are not included. That includes only data from the Southeast Asian market, not data from South America.
The scope of this analysis is also limited only to e-commerce platforms focused on C2C (consumer-to-consumer) or, if necessary, a mix of C2C and B2C (business-to-consumer) only. Platforms focused more on direct selling and independent supplying, like Zalora and Shein, are excluded.
Lastly, because Shopee is an e-commerce site, it excludes indirect competitors (i.e., those with physical stores). Platforms that provide similar extra services to Shopee (such as hotel reservations, cashless payment systems, bill payment centers, and so on) are also not considered.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 10 competitors of Shopee.
Headquarters: Downtown Core, Singapore Founder(s): Maximilian Bittner, Mads Faurholt, Stefan Bruun, Raphael Strauch, and Rocket Internet Year Founded: 2012
Lazada is arguably the leading platform in Southeast Asia, depending on what you’re going to consider. It has consistently been in tight competition with Shopee in the region. Unknown to many, Lazada is a flagship of Alibaba in Southeast Asia.
It was founded primarily to take advantage of Amazon’s weak regional performance. The company is focused on its technology, constantly improving its payment and logistics infrastructures. When it comes to the user’s experience, many people argue that while Shopee is generally cheaper, Lazada is better when buying electronics.
In 2016, Rocket Internet announced its plan to sell its 9% stake to Alibaba for $276 million. Taking over more than half of the company’s shares, Alibaba stepped up the company’s game by adding over $370 million at stake. They vowed to increase Lazada’s GMV to $100 billion and grow its customer base to 300 million for the next ten years. It was the time when Lazada seemed to be running out of budget.
After Alibaba took over, the company immediately changed, especially in the administrative department. Since then, Lazada has improved a lot. It has directly kept pace with Shopee, its top competitor. From the promotions, monthly deals, and celebrity endorsements, Lazada didn’t let a detail slip by. Their 11.11 advertisement, led by Lee Min Ho, was successful after garnering over 7 million visits.
Lazada generated over $21 billion gross merchandise value in 2021, 922,000 seller base expansion, and 130 million active users. Overall, the company’s statistics show an upward trend.
In September 2021, the company reported processing more than 5 million parcels daily. In its 11.11 sale, Lazada had 187% growth in sales in just a day through its live-selling feature.
Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia Founder(s): William Tanuwijaya, Leontinus Alpha Edison Year Founded: 2009
Tokopedia is an Indonesian-based online shopping unicorn company that partners with a logistics and digital payment platform called Gojek. It offers millions of products organized into 25 categories.
Founded by William Tanuwijaya and Leontinus Alpha Edison, Tokopedia aimed to solve the discrepancies in Indonesia in the field of commerce. Through technology, the founders were able to make business and shopping more accessible to everyone, given that Indonesia comprises thousands of separate islands.
Indonesia, known for its geography of scattered islands, undeniably offers a challenge for e-commerce companies. Surprisingly, Tokopedia covered 99% of the country’s cities. The company is also high-speed, delivering more than 60% of daily orders the next day.
The company has over 100 million monthly active users and more than 9 million sellers. And during the Ramadan sale, the company reported over $1.3 billion in gross sales.
In 2021, Go-Jek, offering digital payment and ride-hailing services, merged with Tokopedia, a decisive move for both of them. Due to the parallel nature of their business, they were able to not only raise their funds but also cut budgets by outsourcing services (for Tokopedia’s part) and acquiring control of a wider range of markets (for Go-Jek’s end).
Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia Founder(s): Achmad Zaky, Fajrin Rasyid, Nugroho Herucahyono Year Founded: 2010
Another Indonesian e-commerce company, Bukalapak, is a public company supporting MSMEs and traditional family businesses in the country. Since its foundation in 2010, thousands of Indonesia’s street stalls called warung have gone online to cut costs and maximize profit.
Bukalapak was founded in 2010. They were first known to sell folding bicycles, which became famous in Indonesia. The name “pelapak” is what they were often called when someone would like to buy a bike.
In 2019, the company decided to make major changes to help it adapt, forcing it to lay off hundreds of its employees. Since then, Bukalapak stopped its innovative retail services and spent most of its budget on maintaining its market in Indonesia.
The company’s total visits had been declining even before the pandemic. But even worse, in the 2nd quarter of 2022, it went from 23.1 million to only 20.5 million. This is even worse, considering that they used to have over 40 million visits back then. Nevertheless, Bukalapak tries to maintain its market share by keeping its warungs (the small local businesses in the country).
In 2021, Bukalapak generated $9 billion gross merchandise value, expected to jump to $12 billion this year. Despite that, the company reported losses of over Rp 300 million (20,000 USD) in the same year.
Headquarters: San Jose, California Founder(s): Pierre Omidyar Year Founded: 1995
Originally designed as an online auction platform, eBay is a C2C and B2C hybrid e-commerce platform. With its long history, eBay has gone through many developments, evolving from auction-style selling to the instant online shop we know today.
As a multinational company, eBay also operates in five countries in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The platform also has a stronghold in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 2015, the company reported Thailand as their largest market in Southeast Asia.
Although the marketplace doesn’t break down figures by all countries, the company’s net revenue in South Korea has been consistently maintained at over $1 billion since 2016. In other countries, the annual net income is secured at $1.5 to $2 billion. Aside from America, Australia, and European countries, eBay is only available in East, South, and Southeast Asia, so most likely, a significant portion of these figures are accounted for by the 5 SEAN.
Headquarters: Singapore Founder(s): Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, Marcus Tan Year Founded: 2012
Carousell is also an e-commerce platform focusing on coordinating consumers and small businesses. Founded in 2012, the first product sold on the platform is an Amazon Kindle e-reader. Unlike the typical online shop you see, Carousell highlights second-hand selling, making it a go-to platform for decluttering.
After its official registration in 2013, it gained more budget from several investments, including Quest Ventures, Rakuten, Golden Gate, 500 Global, and many more. In 2014, the company received $6 million from Sequoia India and $35 million from Series B. And after closing an 80-million-dollar deal with a South Korean giant in 2016, Carousell raised its budget to $900 million, which supported expansion and promotions.
The latest reports say that the company generated over $15 billion in GMV, which is much higher than the previous report of $9 billion. It’s estimated that the platform will have gained almost 3 million visits by the end of the first quarter of 2022. In 2017, Carousell reported $5 billion worth of merchandise sold, which is expected to grow three times by 2025.
However, its simple interface makes Carousell a breeding ground for fraud and scams. In fact, Singapore reported in 2018 that 70% of e-commerce scams occurred on Carousell!
Headquarters: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Founder(s): Tran Ngoc Thai Son Year Founded: 2012
Also known as Tìm kiếm & Tiết kiệm (Search & Save), Tiki is a Vietnamese-based online shopping platform that is famous for its 2-hour delivery time. It focuses on providing an end-to-end chain between users and partner brands.
Although the company started 2020 with 24 million visits, it went on a downward trend, closing the third quarter of 2021 with 17 million visits. Meanwhile, the total merchandise sold in Tiki is about $240 million across Vietnam.
However, the company has been facing a decline. It reported a massive loss in 2017, reaching $26 million because of the high selling expenses. It was followed by another loss worth $32.6 million and another $22 million in 2019. Despite that, Tiki is still able to close large investment deals.
Such loss is still common in the e-commerce industry in Vietnam. And as one of the most popular e-commerce companies in the country, Tiki is a promising platform despite its losses.
Tiki Corporation started as an online bookselling platform with only ten employees. As the e-commerce industry became more popular in neighboring countries, the founder thought expanding the company’s product portfolio and coverage would be best.
During its ten years in service, Tiki became the 2nd most visited e-commerce platform in Vietnam. They also popularized “TikiNow,” the platform’s feature of delivering an item within 2 hours.
Headquarters: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Founder(s): Tran Hai Linh Year Founded: 2012
Sendo, a subsidiary of FPT Corporation, is another Vietnamese-based online shop specializing in fashion, homeware, cosmetics, tech, and foods. It’s known as a close competitor to Lazada and Tiki in Vietnam.
Although the company was initially targeted to reach $1 billion worth of merchandise with their 300 million annualized GMV, they got it earlier in 2019. The estimated revenue of the company is less than $5 billion. Meanwhile, their monthly users reached over 30 million in 2019.
In 2020, talks about a merger with Tiki surfaced, which both companies refused to discuss. If the merger goes through, Lazada and Shopee’s stability in the country is believed to be challenged.
Headquarters: Singapore Founder(s): Ku Young Bae Year Founded: 2010
Formerly named GMarket, Qoo10 is another e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia operating in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and China. The company is the result of a joint venture project between GMarket and eBay. Initially, the company aimed to establish a marketplace in Singapore and Japan.
In 2021, the estimated revenue of Qoo10 was $34.8 million. However, the 3.3 million monthly visits indicate an 8% decrease. Today, the platform consistently has over 4 million active users every month.
As one of the pioneering e-commerce platforms in Singapore, Qoo10 used to be the go-to online shop for every Singaporean. However, Shopee and Lazada in the country caused some drawbacks. Today, Qoo10 still has a spot on the charts but is behind the two mentioned apps.
Headquarters: Beijing, China Founder(s): Liu Qiangdong Year Founded: 1998
JD.com, formerly 360buy, is an e-commerce company based in China. It has secure markets in East and Southeast Asia. The platform is among the two largest online shops in China and has been in constant competition with Tmall, a company run by Alibaba.
As a major online retailer in one of the biggest markets in Asia, JD.com has a consistently increasing revenue every year. It even closed the year 2021 with a 30% increase after garnering over $149 billion in revenue. There’s also an increase in its users after 470 million became 569 million annual users in 2021.
JD.com used to be an electronics-focused shop, but as the e-commerce industry strengthened in Asia, it gradually shifted into general merchandise. The company is now a member of the Fortune Global 500. They are also among the pioneers of automated logistics in Asia, launched in 2014.
Headquarters: Hangzhou, China Founder(s): Jack Ma Year Founded: 2010
AliExpress is an Alibaba Group subsidiary focused on gathering various Chinese-owned small businesses for distribution to the international market. Initially, it was a business-to-business buy and sell portal. Today, it also serves in consumer-to-consumer companies, payment services, and cloud computing. It’s a famous go-to place for other e-commerce stores for dropshipping.
On average, the platform has more than 450 million monthly visitors. In 2020, the company generated over $74 billion in revenues, excluding Alibaba’s income. The company is available in 230 countries around the globe, providing easy distribution of Chinese-manufactured products. Currently, Russia accounts for about 28% of its customers.
As a dropshipping company, AliExpress is a go-to place for new entrepreneurs to test products. It allows you to gauge whether or not your product will attract your target audience. Several items resold on the other platforms are, in fact, AliExpress wholesale.
The companies listed above are not the only competitors of Shopee in Southeast Asia. Although Amazon’s market in the region is not as strong, the company still bags millions of dollars in revenue from the region.
Zalora is an online fashion brand headquartered in Singapore. With its complex understanding of its Southeast Asian market, Zalora became the leading fashion e-commerce company after years of investment. Shein, a new competitor, has rapidly increased in popularity in East and Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia’s digital market is growing exponentially, offering many opportunities for e-commerce businesses to thrive. But with this big potential also comes a lot of competition. For instance, Ensogo, an Australian-based e-commerce platform that opened in SEA a few years ago, shut down despite its promising start due to a lack of customer loyalty.
Direct-to-customer (DTC) brands are also doing great in Southeast Asia. Following the DTC boom in the US, many investors project that, sooner or later, the same will happen in Asia. Many local brands such as From Yours (skincare products from Singapore), Joi (hygiene products), and Recess (a sportswear brand) are just some of the companies believed to clear the path for the DTC industry in the region.
Hypefast, an Indonesian company, offers a collection of various DTC brands in one place. Although such businesses aren’t a threat yet, they will surely change the game for e-commerce in Southeast Asia.