Given its ubiquity and the fact it feels like something that’s been around forever, it’s easy to forget that the internet is still quite young. Even the earliest version of what we’d now recognise as the internet only came about in the mid-1980s when IT companies began registering .com domains and building rudimentary text-only websites.
Internet usage has now reached near-saturation in the world’s most developed nations, but it’s far from omnipresent in developing nations. Internet use as a whole (and the industries linked to it) are growing apace in many countries all over the world, which presents a unique opportunity for companies willing to look beyond their own shores. But which developing nations are the best ones to target?
A developing picture
Before talking about targeting developing nations as an online business, let’s explain what’s meant by a ‘developing nation’. There are lots of demographic, economic, and social theories regarding how nations develop. Fortunately, when we talk about targeting a new ecommerce market, ‘developing nation’ is effectively shorthand for a country or state with a growing number of internet users – who aren’t yet saturated with choice when it comes to online shopping to the degree of customers in first world nations like the UK and USA.
China and India
There’s no need to get into an argument about whether China and India represent developing nations since both countries contain lucrative markets for online businesses. There are more than 800 million internet users in China, even with only just over half of their population currently connected. India is home to almost 650 million internet users, despite 60 per cent of Indians not having connected to the World Wide Web yet. What’s more, ecommerce retail sales in India are growing apace. In fact, they’re shooting up at the second-fastest rate of any nation around the world, which is why successfully targeting the Chinese or Indian markets could reap huge rewards for any online business.
Mexico and Latin America
India has the second-fastest-growing ecommerce market in the world, beaten only by Mexico. In 2019, online sales figures grew by an astonishing 35 per cent in this Central American nation. Like China and India, Mexico is also a nation with a huge number of internet users – the tenth highest globally and continuing to rise. That makes Mexico another savvy choice when it comes to targeting developing nations. Other Latin American countries are also worth considering; Argentina is the eighth fastest-growing ecommerce market worldwide. Smaller nations throughout this continent are also seeing rapid growth in internet usage figures.
South East Asian nations
Whilst thriving markets, neither Japan nor South Korea can be called developing nations, even given the broader and less formal definition of the term explained above. There are other countries in South East Asia, though, which do make attractive targets for online businesses. The Philippines is a prime example. Ecommerce sales have grown by over 30 per cent in the last year, while recent stats suggest that Filipino internet users spend more time online than anyone else in the world.
Malaysia and Indonesia are other nations which offer similar potential to online businesses, with both countries experiencing a huge surge in both ecommerce sales and overall internet usage. That makes them great target markets for online businesses since successful penetration of these burgeoning digital economies could theoretically deliver huge (and growing) profits for years to come.