The growth of connected device ownership is causing a boom in the online retail sector, with the number of people making online purchases spiking in the last two years in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, global information company Nielsen said in a report last week.

Doan Duy Khoa, director of Consumer Insights at Nielsen Vietnam, said: "2014 is witnessing a significant growth of e-commerce in Vietnam.

"Entertainment activities such as travel are the key potential areas which continue to see about half of Vietnamese consumers intending to shop online.

"Searching for and finding more information on products and services online before buying in stores seems to be very popular with many Vietnamese consumers.

"Now, with the increasing use of smart phones, Vietnam is in the top three markets in Southeast Asia whereby consumers use their mobile device to shop online most frequently."

The report said 58 percent of Vietnamese consumers use their mobile phones to shop online frequently.

Khoa said, "And this trend is expected to continue in the coming years."

The report also said that 56 percent of Vietnamese internet users said they use price-saving apps In-store and 44 percent manage their grocery list with grocery retailers' mobile apps and online tools.

The survey found that travel services are the most commonly bought items online in Southeast Asia along with tickets for films, live performances, exhibitions, and sports events.

Singaporeans and Malaysians rank among the world's most avid online shoppers.

Singaporeans have the highest online purchase intention globally with around 70 percent planning to go online to buy flights and 69 percent making hotel and tour reservations within the next six months.

The country ranks second highest globally for event tickets.

Malaysians rank second globally in buying tours and making hotel reservations online and third globally in terms of intention to buy airline tickets and event tickets online.

Around half of consumers in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam intend to make travel and event purchases online, while it is around four in 10 in Thailand.

Digital consumers across the region enjoy shopping online.

Filipinos, Vietnamese, and Singaporeans are most inclined to buy online whereas in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand they are more likely to go online to browse.

Reading online reviews, product research, and convenience are among the main reasons for consumers in Southeast Asia to go online to shop. A large number of consumers in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore often look at products online before buying them in a store.

Credit card security remains a key concern across the region with five of the six Southeast Asian markets ranking above the global average with respect to concern about providing card information online.

Filipinos are the most cautious when it comes to paying online by credit card, with 67 percent afraid of giving card information online, followed by Thais (62 percent), Indonesians (60 percent), Vietnamese (55 percent), Malaysians (52 percent), and Singaporeans (41 percent).

This compares with 49 per cent globally.

"Concerns about providing credit card information online remains a barrier to purchase, and providing reassurances about online payment security is essential for online retailers to gain the trust of consumers," Connie Cheng, Shopper Practice Leader, Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific, said.

Use of mobile phones for online shopping is growing in popularity across the region, with the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand ranking in the top 10 globally and all Southeast Asian markets scoring above the global average.

Tablet usage is also gaining traction as a means of accessing online retail sites, with all Southeast Asian markets except Singapore ranking above the global average in the use of tablets to shop online.

"Increasing connected device ownership in Southeast Asia is by far one of the most significant factors impacting the shopping behaviour of consumers across the region," Cheng said.

"Rising affluence, availability of high-speed connectivity and evolving online offerings will compound this effect in the years ahead.

"With this growth set to continue, e ‑ commerce represents a huge opportunity for online retailers and bricks and mortar operators alike to tap into the expanding online consumer base.

"The key to staying ahead of the curve lies in identifying and understanding consumer demand, staying abreast of evolving online behaviour and implementing tactics which build a lasting connection with consumers."

The Nielsen Global Survey of E-Commerce polled more than 30,000 internet respondents in 60 countries to examine the online shopping and purchasing intentions of consumers worldwide.

It was done in February-March this year.-VNA