By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation Weekend
Due to the fierce competition in the Thai e-marketplace, tarad.com says it plans to become a total e-commerce solutions service provider with the launch of U-Commerce, a platform aimed at turning its competitors into partners.
U-Commerce results from a joint venture with various leading companies and has come to the market under the concept of offering total solutions for e-commerce, including e-marketplace, payments, logistics and fulfilment, advertising and marketing, customer service and support.
It is connected to e-commerce operators Lazada and Shoppee, and also with social commerce platform Facebook. The move represents a return to the market by former e-commerce market leader tarad.com and, as such, is a big turning point in the history of the 20-year-old firm.
Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, founder and chief executive officer of tarad.com, said that the intensely competitive e-marketplace had impacted the company. It thus shifted its focus to offering total solutions for e-commerce by providing synergies with companies and partners in the e-commerce ecosystem.
U-Commerce is operated by tarad.com. It has partnered with Facebook Lazada and Shoppee; as well as with start-ups in the e-commerce ecosystem to offer choices of payment for e-commerce. It can offer six channels of payment, both online and offline, and logistic services.
It is a one-stop service platform for e-commerce and is free to users. Its business model is freemium. E-commerce will be charged as an annual fee when they reach out the free numbers of product and services.
U-Commerce will allow users to manage their online stores in one place by connecting them together. For instance, U-Commerce can connect e-marketplaces such as Lazada and Shopee with social media and users' websites. It is connected with e-payment and allows users to pay through credit cards, debit cards, in instalments, or offline such as with Prompt Pay or Pay Solutions. Also, it is connected with more than 10 logistics companies through shippop.com and warehouse and courier service from SiamOutlet.com. Moreover, it also offers complete online advertising services with partners such as Google, Facebook and Line.
These services will reduce the complexity of store management and allow U-Commerce's clients, especially SMEs, to effectively compete with the vigorous competition in the e-commerce world.
The main target group of U-Commerce is SMEs and large corporates and brands. Many businesses and brands need to go online and do e-commerce, and U-Commerce is designed to serve the total e-commerce solutions for this target group.
Usually, SMEs and brand/business do e-commerce on three platforms: their own e-commerce website, on an e-commerce platform, and on social media platforms. When they go to U-Commerce, all their products will be spread to all platforms instantly.
“Our mission is to help Thai businesses easily go online to take advantage of e-commerce. Our U-Commerce in the next phase will connect to giant platforms like Amazon and eBay, and Rakuten,” says Pawoot.
U-Commerce facilitates brands to easily manage their online business with a variety of e-commerce and e-marketplace platforms. Its goal for this year is to encourage 300 brands and corporates to benefit from the platform.
“We are not starting from zero. We add value on top of the existing resources of tarad.com, which has 200,000 merchants, the majority of whom are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and make up about 4 million members. We have data and resources. This will enable us to move towards the next step," says Pawoot.
He spent a year to build U-Commerce, since he admits tarad.com cannot compete in the same way with the giant e-marketplace operators that can spend a lot to gain traction. Recognising this, he saw the need to change the way of doing business. As an e-marketplace operator he could be beaten by the giant players, but with the new platform, the company can become a partner of the industry giants. Real benefits will flow to customers and local businesses, he says.
In Thailand, e-commerce is fragmented, he says. U-Commerce will integrate all these fragmented e-commerce services into a one-stop service that is easy to use and will help business save time and costs.
“We use 'profile pool' to utilise startups that we invested in to offer services. U-commerce can offer a one-stop service with the freemium model," says Pawoot. This move marks not only the return of tarad.com to e-commerce but will strengthen Thailand’s e-commerce competitiveness. The country’s e-commerce is still growing but that growth is mainly in the form of products flowing from overseas, especially China, to Thailand.
U-Commerce aims to empower Thai products, Pawoot says.
“The e-commerce market in Thailand has seen a massive growth this year with a total market value of Bt3.15 trillion, or a14.04 per cent increase from last year.
“With the ever rising number of Internet users in Thailand, at 45 million people, we expect to see more expansion within the e-commerce market as brands switch to online shopping.”