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Retailers see bright online future

May 07. 2016
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By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN,
WATCH

DESPITE online shopping contributing a low proportion of their sales so far, major retailers have prepared strategies to cash in on the rising trend of shoppers shifting towards the online option.

The boom of smartphone technology, social networks and online applications will play a crucial role in the growth of online activities in Thailand and other markets around the world.

Central Group’s recent acquisition of online fashion retailer Zalora in Thailand and Vietnam shows a strong commitment by Thailand’s largest retail conglomerate in the future of e-commerce.

Kridchanok Patamasatayasonthi, managing director of Index Living Mall, said the e-commerce market in Thailand was now quite competitive and would become more so in the future.

There are currently more than 38 million social-media users in Thailand, accounting for 56 per cent of the population. Such numbers are a significant driving factor for the growth of e-commerce market in Thailand.

A survey by Rakuten.com founded that online shoppers in Thailand preferred shopping for several products online, which are fashion apparel (24 per cent), fragrances (11 per cent), furniture (10 per cent), information-technology products (8 per cent), and food and beverages (6 per cent).

“Index Living Mall has seen the business opportunity of e-commerce,” Kridchanok said.

“We have created a new online retail store for our individual clients via www.indexlivingmall.com. With the site, customers will be able to select our home-furnishing products in any category. We provide delivery and installation services from our professional teams. She said e-commerce was expected to grow strongly this year, by about 150 per cent compared with last year. In 2015, online sales surged by 100 per cent from 2014, of which 80 per cent were sales of furniture and the rest home decorative items and electrical goods.

Onsurang Keratichewanun, director of online shopping at Big C Supercenter, said the company planned to become one of the biggest online grocery-shopping outlets within five years, with year-on-year growth of more than 100 per cent.

“Thailand has huge potential for e-commerce business, since [for the past] couple of years we have been able to see there is high demand and supply via online purchases. The market will move forward to omni-channel; with the combination of online and offline, customers can order online and they can select whether to pick up the purchase at the store or [have it delivered to] their house,” Onsurang said.

At a recent press conference, John Christie, chief executive officer of Tesco Lotus, told the media that an expansion of online distribution was among the company’s three key business strategies. The others were new branches and keeping prices low.

To cash in on the change in customers’ digital lifestyles and behaviour, Tesco Lotus continues developing its online shopping platform with its partners, he said.

“We are now offering more than 8,000 non-food products via Lazada.com. They include electronic devices, beauty and healthcare products,” he said.

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