Thailand’s e-commerce queens offer survival tips for small businesses
E-commerce is coming to the rescue of millions of small merchants and entrepreneurs struggling to survive during Thailand’s Covid-19 crisis. That was the hopeful message delivered by female digital business leaders at the "Global Summit of Women 2022" on Friday.
The international forum is being held at Bangkok Convention Centre in CentralWorld until Saturday.
Jackie Wang, country director for Google Thailand, said Southeast Asia has entered its "digital decade", with 60 million new digital consumers since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. According to Google’s annual study of Southeast Asia’s internet economy, 34 per cent of digital merchants in Thailand said they would not have survived the pandemic without e-commerce platforms. These include the Kingdom’s vast army of street-food merchants, about 80 per cent of whom are female, according to the Thai street vendors network.
Meanwhile, Wang estimates that the value of the internet economy in Southeast Asia will reach US$1 trillion by 2030.
She said Google Thailand was continuing to empower Thai business operators with digital skills, so they could harness the power of digital disruption and maintain sustainable growth.
Maneerat Anulomsombut, CEO of Sea Thailand, the operator of the e-commerce platform Shopee, said Covid-19 has accelerated Thailand’s online shopping trend as merchants adopt the new technology.
She said 81 per cent of Thai small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are using the e-commerce ecosystem to overcome Covid-19 by reaching more customers outside their local areas.
"Thai SMEs have also witnessed increases of up to 370 per cent in total sales after shifting to e-commerce, while 82 per cent of SMEs reported an increase in household income due to e-commerce," she said.
She added that Sea Thailand is supporting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) via Shopee in three ways:
First by helping them set up on the e-commerce platform, then by handing them the Shopee tools and technology to grow their business, and finally by opening doors to new markets in Shopee's Southeast Asia network.
Jamie Brennan, head of Amazon Global Selling Thailand, said e-commerce offered entrepreneurs short cuts for exporting their products.
She also had four pieces of advice for Thais who want to use e-commerce to reach foreign markets:
- Understand the overseas market and evaluate the potential of product categories.
- Evaluate the competition via the current top brands.
- Monitor dynamic changes of brands to seek the key factors for success and failure of leading brands so as to replicate their success and avoid pitfalls.
- Observe changes in consumers' preference through trending products.