UNSTOPPABLE e-commerce (The Nation)


THAILAND’S e-commerce will continue to actively grow next year, becoming increasingly competitive and benefiting from trends in consumer-to-consumer sales and omnichannel e-commerce. But while industry watchers are rosy about the prospects, they warn of the need for government support and astute business decisions.

Siwat Chawareewong, chief executive officer at GroupM said that large local brands have had an e-commerce presence for years. All are interested to know their customers through data and to understand consumer behaviour as Thais go online in their daily lives.

The e-commerce trend for 2018 will be consumer-to-consumer (C2C) e-commerce, driven by the mobile penetration rate and mobile payment.

Siwat said technology gives people the opportunity for more than one career, with participation in an online commerce venture being one of the most popular second careers. E-commerce in 2018 is expected to explode with growth reaching 2.5 times that of this year.

Another trend is online to offline (O2O). Siwat said department stores need to be “omni-channel“. The starting point of shopping is no longer the department store, but rather the search engine, and so businesses must be present online. 

Online and offline shopping will co-exist, with the challenge being how to make seamless the customer’s online and offline experience.

“In 2018, it will be the year of business adjusting to online behaviour. [Access to] customer data is a ‘must-have’ for businesses. Data is a big need,” said Siwat.

Paul Srivorakul, the CEO for aCom-merce Group, said that retail is changing, and in the process is changing distributors and wholesalers. New retail is digital-first, omnichannel, direct-to-customer”. 

“We want to help brands manage content, channels and the entire customer experience to capture data end-to-end,” said Paul.

It is important for brands to adapt to the omnichannel model, the next step since those brands realised they needed to be where their customers are.

Even though social media and technology have enabled consumers to gain information or place an order online, 85 per cent of retail sales will still come from offline channels in the next five years. This is why foreign players like Alibaba and Amazon are investing in offline channels to ensure that their consumers are experiencing a connected, seamless shopping process wherever they are. 

Government role

Pichet Durongkaveroj, Thailand’s minister of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) said that the country’s economic policymakers fully support business exploring opportunities via digital technology. Business circumstances in the global market are currently undergoing rapid change, he said. 

“This venue is designed to support Thais at every level of life to transform [into players] in the global e-commerce market from the general domestic e-commerce or physical trade. So our challenges are to educate and provide knowledge about digital technology in order to encourage them to optimise in everyday life activities and doing business,” said Pichet. 

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Asina Pornwasin

29 November 2017

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