Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and , reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 11/8/2019

Overview

The e-commerce market in Taiwan has grown rapidly over the past few years. In 2017, the estimated market size was $42.69 billion with a five-year average growth rate of 10-20 percent. In 2018, Taiwan had the highest proportion of e-commerce shoppers in Asia at 67 percent, as well as the region’s highest average revenue per e-commerce user at around $3,000. As Taiwan’s e-commerce market continues to develop, an increasing number of younger shoppers prefer to shop online. Whereas the initial advantage of e-commerce was to provide better access to foreign products unavailable in Taiwan’s retail market, users of e-commerce platforms have come to value convenience over accessibility in the past few years. Media products, apparel and footwear, and consumer electronics remain the top three most-purchased products, however, online purchases of basic household necessities have increased, as has the demand for quick delivery. The evolution of e-commerce consumer trends has led to growing opportunities to meet demand in many product and service areas.

Internet Penetration Rate

By 2018, the internet penetration rate in Taiwan stood at 87.9 percent. Taiwan internet users log on using a mobile phone (92 percent), a desktop/notebook (67 percent), or tablet PC (29 percent).

Current Market Trends

The Taiwan e-commerce market features a wide variety of products and services, such as:
  • Apparel
  • Beauty and skincare
  • Computers and accessories
  • Eyewear
  • Grocery, food, and beverage
  • Household goods
  • Media products and videogames
  • Mother and baby products
  • Shoes, bags, and collectibles
  • Travel packages, hotels, and flights

e-Commerce Regulations

The Taiwan authorities have actively used legislation to facilitate and regulate the growing e-commerce industry. The 2001 Electronic Signatures Act was modeled on United Nations standards and recognizes electronic signatures and electronic records as approved by certification authorities. The 2005 Consumer Protection Act allows consumers to return unsatisfactory goods within a week of purchase. Long-distance and online sales are included under this law. In 2016, new amendments were added to the Value-Added Tax (VAT) regulations that affected foreign e-commerce providers operating in Taiwan. Foreign providers with revenues exceeding NT$480,000 ($15,412) were required to register with local tax authorities, file bi-monthly VAT returns, and pay a five percent VAT through approved tax agents. This amendment aimed to transfer the burden of paying VAT from consumers to businesses and to target companies that had been running their businesses exclusively through digital platforms to avoid establishing a physical presence that would have required them to pay VAT.

Additional amendments have been created that target consumers who frequently import products from abroad, namely “daigou”, individuals who run personal businesses as purchasing agents of high-demand goods from overseas. As of July 1, 2017, consumers who import products more than twice per month, or six times in six months, were required to pay a new tax. In addition, after January 1, 2018, the previous tax-exempt import threshold of NT$3,000 ($96.33) was reduced to NT$2,000 ($64.22). Consumers whose import orders exceed the threshold are required to pay an import VAT tax of five percent.

Taiwan’s e-commerce market has a comprehensive policy infrastructure and a good network of financial, distribution, and credit systems. The main market players are suppliers, brand owners, and e-commerce platforms such as PChome and Momo. Banks and other financial institutions coordinate with distribution service providers, such as courier companies and the postal service, to facilitate transactions. Recent changes in Taiwan’s e-commerce ecosystem include incorporating live-broadcast social media promotion, expanding service and payment options, and integrating big data and artificial intelligence applications to bridge e-commerce platforms with traditional retail outlets.

Domestic e-Commerce (B2C)

Taiwan’s e-merchants are generally small-scale operations, 81.6 percent of which conduct business using e-commerce shopping platforms rather than maintaining their own websites in order to keep costs down. These platforms include the PChome, Yahoo!, Kimo, Momo, and Rakuten online malls.

With the growth of mobile apps as an e-commerce platform, it is expected that mobile shopping will eventually become the primary way Taiwan consumers purchase online. For example, in 2017, the mobile retailing company Shopee had more than 10 million downloads. By investing heavily in its mobile app, Shopee positioned its mobile retailing to effectively cater to Taiwan’s hyperconnected and savvy online shoppers. Shopee also used aggressive financial marketing tactics, such as zero payment processing fees and free shipping when launching its mobile app.

Cross-Border e-Commerce

The Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC) found that Taiwan’s 2017 cross-border e-commerce spending per capita was $547.40, a six percent increase over the previous year. The most popular overseas online purchases included clothing and accessories, consumer electronics, household goods, shoes and bags, and furniture and appliances. Taiwan’s most active cross-border shopping was with the following countries:
  • China (72.7 percent)
  • Japan (40.1 percent)
  • United States (22.9 percent)
Language barriers and shipping costs are major factors affecting Taiwan’s cross-border e-commerce. From e-merchants’ perspective, the biggest barriers to cross-border sales are customs, warehousing, and tax issues.

Business-to-Business (B2B) e-Commerce

Taiwan has a robust B2B e-commerce environment, with two major web portals run by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA): TaiwanTrade is an e-commerce portal that allows businesses to find suppliers, manufacturers and distributors; while iDealEZ Online Marketplace is a platform that allows businesses to buy small quantities or sample items directly from suppliers. B2B e-commerce is most developed in the IT, chemical, and textile industries due to economic growth policies initiated during the early 2000s.

e-Commerce Services

Survey responses indicate that Taiwan shoppers prize convenience, information, and affordability when shopping online. Convenience is cited by 77 percent of Taiwan consumers as their main reason for shopping online whereas 69 percent rely on online product reviews to make purchase decisions and 52 percent believe that online stores offer better deals than brick-and-mortar retailers.

Distribution services in Taiwan have developed to effectively account for all types of lifestyles. Beyond home delivery, consumers may pick up their purchases at any of Taiwan’s numerous convenience stores, which operate 24/7 and provide working consumers flexible hours to retrieve deliveries.

For small and medium-sized businesses seeking to conduct Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce in Taiwan, online shopping platforms are convenient, attract large customer traffic flows, and offer a range of services, including marketing tools and logistical resources.

Business-to-Business (B2B) Websites

Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and B2B-to-Consumer (B2B2C) Websites

Online-to-Offline (O2O) Websites

e-Commerce Intellectual Property Rights

Taiwan is currently not a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) but does adhere to key international agreements such as the Berne Convention and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Due to Taiwan’s significant advances in IPR protection, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative removed Taiwan from the Special 301 Watch List in 2009. Additional details on IPR are available below in the Protecting Intellectual Property entry of this section.

Online Payment

Online shoppers in Taiwan have several payment options for their e-commerce purchases:
  • Bank/wire transfer
  • Mobile payments
  • Online banking payments
  • Online credit card
  • Payment at convenience stores
  • Payment on delivery
  • Placing credit card orders by fax
The Marketing Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC) reported in 2018 that 76.9 percent of consumers used credit cards as their preferred method of online payment. This was followed by convenience store pickup, at 63.5 percent. Another popular option is ATM bank transfers, at 10.8 percent.

Mobile e-Commerce

Although 85 percent of Taiwan’s e-commerce transactions are conducted using a desktop or laptop, and only 10 percent of e-commerce purchases are conducted using a mobile device, the use of mobiles is steadily rising. In 2018, mobile shopping views increased by 8.4 percent and mobile orders by 6.7 percent.
Among mobile shopping applications, Taiwan’s online shopping consumers mainly use Shopee (48.7 percent), followed by Momoshop (26.7 percent), PChome 24H (18.6 percent), Yahoo! Auctions (18.4 percent), and Yahoo! Shopping (17.9 percent).

Digital Marketing

Social media, primarily Facebook and the messaging app Line, is the primary online marketing outlet in Taiwan. In 2018, the Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC) reported that the top five online shopping information sources are online shopping websites (54.9 percent), Google Search (40.3 percent), Facebook (24.3 percent), price comparison engines (22.5 percent), and recommendations from friends and family (16.9 percent). Taiwan-based international public relations firms also help businesses promote their products or services online.

Initially, companies in Taiwan that purchased Facebook ads paid a 20 percent withholding tax (WHT). On January 2, 2018, the Taiwan Ministry of Finance issued a tax ruling that allowed WHT reductions for foreign enterprises that provide cross-border electronic services to Taiwan customers.

Major Buying Holidays

November 11th (11/11), known as “Singles’ Day”, is an unofficial major buying holiday observed by young people in both Taiwan and China. The date 11/11 was chosen because the number “1” represents an individual who is alone. On this day, young people who are not in a relationship celebrate their single status by indulging in both online and offline shopping for themselves and/or purchasing gifts to initiate a new relationship.

During the fall season, all major department stores have annual sales events. These sales see large crowds similar to those of Black Friday in the United States.

Some Taiwan consumers have also begun to celebrate other international buying holidays. These include Christmas, Black Friday, and Mother’s Day, among others. Suppliers offer special sales which lead to higher rates of consumer purchases at these times.

Social Media

In 2018, Taiwan had an 89 percent social media penetration rate. YouTube (90 percent) was the lead social media platform, followed by Facebook (89 percent) and Line (84 percent).

Social media has become extremely important for marketing online products in Taiwan. Facebook is the preferred method of digital marketing with 63.4 percent of online vendors choosing the platform as a major marketing tool. Facebook’s is a popular marketing platform due to its low promotional costs and ability to reach a broad audience. The ease of spreading word-of-mouth recommendations on Facebook makes it a particular favorite of e-marketers hoping to generate traffic.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Taiwan eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce