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E-marketplace set to heat up as mobile banking gains ground

Feb 25. 2018
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By Patchara Samalapa
Special to The Nation

The e-commerce market in Thailand this year continues to heat up, as seen from a series of new services launched by related businesses such as delivery, e-payment or mobile banking.

The trend bolsters trade transactions between suppliers and consumers, driving the growth of e-commerce. Online transactions are set to rise to 8.2 per cent from 4.8 per cent in 2017, thanks to the increased awareness of consumers. Purchasing goods via a smartphone has become an important trend.

E-commerce business has now evolved to fit the mobile phone platform. An expansion of digital technology toward mobile commerce has shattered physical boundaries and enabled everyone to post advertising on social media. The opportunity to sell goods via mobile phones is limitless and enjoying a bullish trend. Technologies for new mobile devices are constantly developed, and help make online transactions via mobile phones an exciting experience, along with providing and new business opportunities for both the buyers and sellers.

This trend is lately further propelled by the Bank of Thailand’s approval for commercial banks and their financial businesses to offer e-marketplace platform service as a channel for trading goods and services as well as making online payments. They are also allowed to use “big data” for product development and presentation and for their financial management. 

Kasikorn Research Centre sees the online platform as gaining a more prominent role as both marketing and transaction channels, driven by the rise of a new generation of consumers familiar with new communications technology. Value chains that embrace all related businesses will offer a comprehensive system to better meet the needs of consumers.

Such a trend presents both opportunities and challenges that require business operators to make adjustments in their approach.

Business in this era should link physical stores with virtual transactions or online-to-offline (OSO) because sales opportunity can happen anywhere and anytime. Operators may mix various types of platforms by choosing the right ones for their businesses, or connecting each platform through a multi-online channel to match their business characteristics and their target groups.

The e-marketplace platform has drawn strong attention because it can identify the sources of products, enhancing its credibility for customers. 

It can be verified by a simple management system with merchants categorised into groups, plus the customer-friendly purchasing and payment systems. This should enable entrepreneurs to add more value to their businesses.

Kasikornbank has recently announced its readiness to provide full-scale and comprehensive e-marketplace service to create new shopping experiences. The bank gears toward facilitating its base of 14 million customers, of which over 8 million of them are already using this e-marketplace. The bank’s customer base of 1.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises will bolster the online community because 200,000 of them are already online merchants, with a combined online transaction exceeding Bt100 billion monthly. 

Kasikornbank will assist as a centrepoint for myriad products and services from small merchants – as well as companies from numerous business sectors – to make those transactions more convenient, faster and safer, and with no additional time constraints. 

KBank is not only the first bank to announce its readiness to enter the market after the Bank of Thailand’s permission, but has also introduced “machine learning” technology to select goods to match the consumer’s demand. Th technology effectively creates a massive online flea-market network linking buyers and suppliers, most of whom are entrepreneurs wishing to expand their businesses online. 

Data analytics and machine learning will make shopping an engaging experience. Small business owners or merchants will find a new world of markets and be able to offer goods and services that better match the needs of target groups, while also being able to better communicate with them. 

At the same time, retail customers will be offered the best products to meet their preferences.

KBank is now testing e-marketplace services with a group of employees for the Valentine’s Day festival. They can order flowers from select shops at special prices and with free delivery service, with the flowers arriving at their loved one’s doorstep.

Kasikornbank will launch its e-marketplace service around mid-March to create an enjoyable shopping experience on smartphones. Customers will be able to select merchandise on the platform by checking the list of merchants matching their lifestyles such as agricultural produce from the “Pruanfun” project, as well as goods from retail entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises and other merchandise from the bank’s partners. This year, KBank plans to introduce over 30 million items to customers.

Patchara Samalapa is Kasikornbank’s senior executive vice president.

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