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An overview of e-commerce in Thailand

Size and growth

The third largest economy of Southeast Asia, Thailand has one of the region’s highest number of internet users. There are approximately 57 million internet users in the country that are well-versed in the use of digital technologies, mobile, and e-commerce.  

The growing internet user base makes Thailand an ideal growth environment for e-commerce businesses. Figure below is the Statista’s forecast and comparison of the income of e-commerce industry in southeast Asian countries from 2018 to 2022. While Singapore is currently the second-largest e-commerce market, Thailand is expected to overtake Singapore to take second place by 2020. In 2018, Thailand’s e-commerce market will reach to $3.54 billion, with an annual compound growth rate of 13.2% from 2018 to 2022, and reach to $5.83 billion in 2022.

Top websites

Top 1 Lazada Thailand

Lazada, a Thai e-commerce leader, also presence in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, is an online platform for department stores and retailers to sell their products.  It was founded in 2011 by Rocket Internetand and was acquired a controlling stake in Lazada and its southeast Asian operations by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2016.It has obvious advantages compare to its rivals: it has the most traffic and App downloads, and the maximum fans on LINE and Facebook. However, that hasn’t stopped other players from entering the market and competing.

Estimated monthly traffic: 44.9 million

Top 2 Shopee Thailand

An important player in the e-commerce industry, especially in “mobile first” countries. Shopee is a primarily mobile, diversified online store that also provides regular shopping online experience. As the main platform for the whole southeast Asia, Shopee has also appeared in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Estimated monthly traffic: 30.1 million

Top 3 JIB

JIB computer group is a specialized department store of computer and IT products in Thailand. JIB has developed its own e-commerce website and become a leading professional businessman of online technical products and small tools.

Estimated monthly traffic: 2.3 million

Top 4 Chilindo

Chilindo is a specialized e-commerce auction platform. It allows users to bid and pay appropriate prices for various categories of products, including fashion and accessories, home and garden products, family and kids, electronics and gadgets, travel, sports, health and beauty. Chilindo’s model is unique in that it allows users to buy products through auction. Chilindo is also active on Facebook and often post eye-catching content such as interesting video and GIF to show the interesting products it sells.

Estimated monthly traffic: 1.75 million

Top 5 Advice

Advice is a retail and wholesale distributor of smart phones and IT goods with 350 branches in Thailand and Laos. As a leading online distributor of IT products, Advice also has one of the most popular e-commerce sites in Thailand.

Estimated monthly traffic: 1.6 million

Social e-commerce

Social e-commerce is a special e-commerce model in Thailand. Social e-commerce refers to merchants that set up “stores” on Facebook and Instagram. These shopkeepers post pictures and details of products, and online shoppers can easily check product details and strike deals via Facebook and Instagram. According to the report of PWC, Thailand is the largest social e-commerce market in southeast Asia, with about 50 percent of online shoppers buying products through social networks. The user base comprises mostly the young: 76 percent of 15 to 19-year-olds, 52 percent of 20 to 29-year-olds, and 34 percent of 30 to 39-year-olds.

In August 2017, Facebook recognized the need and launched its first Facebook store. Companies like Shopee and LINE also focus on this segment. Shopee is trying to appeal to online merchants on social networks by offering an easy-to-integrate Instagram store and compensating for shipping costs, and has agreed to let sellers sell products by cash. LINE also created LINE Shop, but was less successful due to technical issues such as the requirement for sellers to upload catalogs via their phones and the limited payment options available in LINE Pay.

Payment methods

Thailand remains a cash-driven society, and COD is still the preferred method of payment for 70% of e-commerce shoppers. Payment has become a bottleneck for the rapid growth of e-commerce because many sellers cannot provide COD. Telecoms companies, Banks and independent operators have all launched mobile wallets, but so far none have really caught on.

Thailand has large population that do not have a bank account and they have low trust in personal financial security. All these make it difficult to adopt digital payments. While fintech companies have grown, none has really settled the core issues. For example, the LINE Pay account can only be tied to Thai credit CARDS (only 3.7 percent of users pay by credit card). Mobile wallets and Banks that provide recharge through ATMs or special kiosks, violates the purpose of mobile wallets.

Logistics

The continued expansion of e-commerce business has increased the demand for logistics space and brought about significant changes in the supply chain and logistics operations in Thailand.

Several courier companies have launched their cost-effective and high-quality logistics services and brought domestic end-to-end delivery to the market. Many companies have established central warehouses, along with smaller drop-off and pickup point across the country, to sustain the rise in demand. For small and medium enterprises, this means greater convenience and a quicker process to deliver to their consumers, at much lesser cost.  

Aden, Central Group, DHL Express Thailand, Kerry Express, Lazada, Pomelo, and Shopee, are some of the major e-commerce and logistics companies in the country.

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