In this day and age, a mobile phone can do more than making a phone call; it records the time, takes pictures, orders meals and even measures your heart rate. Who needs a watch these days?

You may be surprised to learn that even though 81.4% of Thais own a mobile phone, many still wear wrist watches.

Mobile phone user penetration in Thailand; eMarketer.com

What do Thais Look for when Buying a Wrist Watch?

Out of the 877 Thai respondents, 94.9% wore a watch and more than half (56.0%) owned three watches or more. Data from the ecommerceIQ Wrist Watch Survey Thailand 2018 indicated that watches remain a necessary accessory among Thai consumers with demand still high despite a large number of smartphone users. Statista reported a total of 25.75 million smartphone users in Thailand but the days of the wristwatch are not yet over.

Apart from the obvious reasons to tell the time (62.5%), 13.5% also wore a wristwatch as an accessory. Male respondents especially mentioned that wearing watches was the easiest and classiest way to look good. Around 8.6% cited that wearing a watch reflected their status and style and helped to boost their confidence.

For this reason, design was naturally the most important factor that Thais considered when buying a wristwatch, followed by price and brand name. Brand name also reflected status and personal style. For example, Rolex is still highly regarded as a prestigious timepiece brand in Thailand. Wearing a Rolex advertises high income and social status.

Price, naturally, is another high-ranking factor. Watches are deemed as expensive accessories and not something to be bought on an impulse. Thais only buy new watches every few years (58.7%). Most respondents indicated that they were comfortable to spend around 1,000-30,000 baht on a wristwatch.

Factors that Thai respondents look for when buying a watch; ecommerceIQ Wrist Watch Survey Thailand 2018

The top three watch brands preferred by Thai respondents were Seiko (25.6%), Casio (21.6%), and Omega and Rolex (10.9%).  What do we learn from this ranking?

  • Seiko is a Japanese company that revolutionized the industry and is known for its long history of watchmaking. Prices range from 5,000 to 30,000 baht and the brand is popular among 20K-50K baht income earners.
  • Casio offers a diverse product assortment and brands including G-SHOCK and Baby G. Casio are known for their affordable but attractive designs.
  • Rolex and Omega are popular among consumers aged 40 and above. These two brands are preferred by the older generation, while youngsters opt for IWC or Tag Heuer as luxury timepieces.
  • Daniel Wellington, is a hipster brand that rose to popularity fast and won the hearts of the younger generation. Up to 75% of respondents aged 18-25 wore this brand. Tag Heuer is also popular amongst the 31-40 age group.

When asked about the media channels they used for news and information about timepieces, 48% of the respondents stated that they received news from social media with 33.7% using brand websites.

In Thailand, 74% of the population are active social media users, as reported by ETDA 2017. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that social media was the main channel respondents used for news concerning watches. Brand websites offer more genuine and trustworthy news about the brand itself.

Media channels that Thais use for news about wrist watches; ecommerceIQ Wrist Watch Survey Thailand 2018

Where do Thais Buy Wrist Watches?

Despite the heavy usage of the Internet to consume news, 76.7% of Thais still buy wrist watches from offline stores. The most popular offline channel used by 55.5% of the Thai respondents was Central Department Store because of the store’s credibility.

Like most department stores in Thailand, Central Department has a dedicated section for wristwatch sales. Apart from their reliable reputation, buying a wrist watch from Central Department Store is very easy and convenient. Up to 19% of the respondents looked for convenience and a holistic service, especially regarding after-sales service when buying a watch. Every Central Department Store has a ‘Watch & Clock Clinic’ that offers after-sales service for watches bought from the store.

Watch & Clock Clinic at Central Department Store, Pinklao Branch

Only 23.3% of the respondents bought wrist watches online. Lazada received the highest scores in terms of an online sales channel where Thais buy watches. The second preferred option would be the brand website, due to its credibility.

The online channels Thai respondents choose to buy watches from; ecommerceIQ Wrist Watch Survey Thailand 2018.

 

Similar to other product categories, the top reason cited for opting for online channels was because of convenience; ecommerce saves time and is hassle-free. On the other hand, some Thai respondents refrained from buying wrist watches online due to a perceived lack of credibility in the sellers and/or marketplaces. Offering a warranty and after-sales service are also factors that some online sellers fail to provide.

Reasons why Thai respondents bought wrist watches from online channels; ecommerceIQ Wrist Watch Survey Thailand 2018

It is also interesting to note how wrist watches are listed by Lazada and Shopee websites as each has a slight difference. From our observations, watches are only found in the ‘watch and glasses’ category on Shopee, while Lazada lists watches under: Electronic accessories, women’s fashion, and men’s fashion. This provides users with more exposure to the products and hence higher conversion to sales.

On the Lazada website, users are able to see watches listed on the e-marketplace more frequently and in more sections than at Shopee. Lazada, watches can be found under Electronics as wearables and accessories, which is also categorized into male, female and child timepieces.

Shopee, on the other hand, only offers watches under the watches and glasses category, and does not categorize watches for different demographics like Lazada.

How Can Watch Brands Take Advantage?

Watches are deemed as a luxury item by Thais. More often than not they are bought as an investment. Thais look for credibility and confidence from the seller, as well as a warranty proving that the timepiece bought is authentic.

It is not enough to list your products on a marketplace and engage in advertising campaigns. Rather, brands should focus on establishing confidence among consumers. One way to ensure this is to be listed as an official seller on LazMall or Shopee Mall, as well as including a clear statement about warranty and after-sales service conditions.

For luxury timepiece manufacturers, an e-marketplace may not be the ideal strategy as it may conflict with the brand’s positioning. Luxury brands should focus on providing beyond-expectation services and ascertaining that information is clearly visible on their websites.

As watches are still mainly sold offline, now is the right time for brands to give omnichannel a try. Take Burberry for example. They created the Burberry Retail Theatre that streams live runway shows into a number of their stores worldwide and through their other online channels. In the Retail Theatres, customers can browse live streaming collections on iPads and purchase items online immediately.

Burberry’s Runway to Reality campaign allowing consumers to order items from the runway in real-time

However, high-end or mid-range Thai timepiece brands should not ignore the power of social media. Daniel Wellington sets a great example through owning its own social media game. The company reduced spending on traditional advertising and turned instead to social media to reach potential consumers through use of the hashtag #DanielWellington. This also leverages user-generated content (UGC) to engage its customers and drive brand loyalty.

An Instagram post was created with #DanielWellington as #DWPickoftheDay and #DWPickoftheMonth

By taking your brand digital, you are embracing an endless supply of consumer data. As Shadi Halliwell, the creative and marketing director of Harvey Nichols stated,

“Data is a conversation; the more data you have on someone, the more conversation you can have.”  

Customer service goes beyond a smiley face and a friendly personality. In the world of ecommerce, where there is a lack of human touchpoints, customer service plays a vital role. When done well, it can help you increase your Average Order Value (AOV), boost your conversion rate, and create brand loyalty.

But gone are the days when customer service translated to 24-hour hotlines. In this day and age, customer service often comes in a form of live chat, recently popularized by all the hype around AI-driven chat bots.

In order to craft an effective customer care strategy, it is important to benchmark the level of customer service in the marketplace. To do that, ecommerceIQ conducted an experiment to test the responsiveness and effectiveness of brands offering live chat on Lazada Thailand.

Methodology

We randomly picked three brands from each category offered on LazMall, sampling a total of 27 brands across Lazada Thailand.

Each of the brands was asked the same single question – “How long does it take to deliver a product from your brand?” – during two time periods: during lunch time and after work. These are typically peaked online shopping hours, translating into peak load hours for live chat operations too.

Results: How Do Brands’ Customer Service Perform on LazMall?

From our observations, 25.9 percent of the brands offer a real-time response through Lazada live chat. 22.2 percent replied within 30 minutes, 22.2 percent replied within the first hour, 11.1 percent replied within 6 hours and 24 hours, and 7.4% of the brands did not reply at all.

It is also noted that the categories that are the most responsive are Electronics & Mobile and Home & Lifestyle.

Since our sample covers after work, off-hours too, this allows us to identify brands that have configured auto-replies for their live chat. Only 37 percent of the brands tested had auto-replies enabled. Setting up auto-replies is easy and a no-brainer in this day and age when everything is on-demand and 24/7.

ecommerceIQ’s observations about the responsiveness of live chat on Lazada Thailand

From our observations, 25.9 percent of the brands offer a real-time response through Lazada live chat. 22.2 percent replied within 30 minutes, 22.2 percent replied within the first hour, 11.1 percent replied within 6 hours and 24 hours, and 7.4% of the brands did not reply at all.

It is also noted that the categories that are the most responsive are Electronics & Mobile and Home & Lifestyle.

Since our sample covers after work, off-hours too, this allows us to identify brands that have configured auto-replies for their live chat. Only 37 percent of the brands tested had auto-replies enabled. Setting up auto-replies is easy and a no-brainer in this day and age when everything is on-demand and 24/7.

Xiaomi’s automatic reply which indicates the working hours and apologizes for the slow response in both Thai and English.

Most brands do add some human touch to their chats, such as using stickers and offering detailed information. But that is not enough to make an impression and the current live chat offering from brands are far from using live chat at its maximum ability.

How can Brands Improve their Live Chat on E-Marketplaces?

With these findings, brands should start paying more attention to their customer care strategies. We spoke with the Ms. Ratchaneewan Vichaisorn, Head of Customer Service at aCommerce, an end-to-end brand ecommerce enabler in Southeast Asia. Here are her suggestions:

1. Equip your Customer Service / Chat Agents with Product Knowledge

As the agents operating your live chat are an extension of your company’s brand, it is important that they receive adequate training for your products. This is especially the case for Mobile & Electronics and Beauty categories as product knowledge are often the deciding factor for shoppers in Thailand.

According to Ms. Ratchaneewan Vichaisorn, Head of Customer Service at aCommerce, during non-campaign periods, 35% of the inquiries through live chat are about products, while the number of inquiries about products surged to 45% during campaign periods like 9.9. (See how to prepare for the annual online mega sales here.)

2. Leverage the Opportunity to Up-Sell and Cross-Sell

Based on their product knowledge, your agents should be able to provide recommendations of similar products or complementary products that consumers may be interested in.

Brands can also take this opportunity to inform consumers of upcoming promotions to keep them coming back to buy the next time too.

3. Collect Data and Monitor For Customer Feedback

Talking directly to your customers is a great way for brands to collect data and feedback from end users. This information can then be used to improve a brand’s products and services. Because live chats are automatically logged, the chat histories can be mined for patterns and insights.

4. Promote Your Brand

Your customer service agent should be encouraged to offer more information about the brand to improve the relationship between the brand and the consumer. Towards the end of the chat, inform the customer about the channels that they can follow your brand for content, updates, and promotions.

These are a few tips that your brand can adapt to improve your customer service. If you’re interested in a similar audit for your own brand or a consulting session to improve your live chat operations, please contact us via hello@ecommerceIQ.asia or fill out the form below:





     

     

    What is BNK48?

    BNK48 is a Thai idol girl group modeled after Japan’s AKB48. Consisting of 52 teen idol members, the Thai group recently rose to prominence and is currently into its second generation.

    Who are the most popular BNK48 members?

    With so many members, we looked at ecommerce analytics to rank them by popularity. Popularity here being measured using the following proxy metrics from the BNK48 official store on Shopee Mall. Data was provided by ecommerce analytics and reviews platforms BrandIQ and ReviewIQ, respectively.

    • Number of likes
    • Number of reviews
    • Average rating (out of 5 stars)

     

    Specifically, we looked at ‘debut photoset’ SKUs as these have a version for each of the BNK48 members.

    Results

    Based on the number of Likes, the top 5 BNK48 members are:

    Based on the number of Reviews, the top 5 BNK48 members are:

    Based on Average Rating, the top 5 BNK48 members are:

    To be frank, average ratings are probably more a sign of product quality rather than the specific member’s relative popularity. However, we’ll include their average ratings here just for reference.

    The top two members are Bamboo and Minmin, both tied with a 4.8 average. They are followed by 12 members tied for second place with a 4.7 average.

    [table id=8 /]

    Disclaimer

    This study was performed with the following limitations in mind:

    • BNK48 second generation has a total of 27 members, but the debut photoset SKUs available on the BNK48 Official Stop on Shopee Mall only covered 22 members
    • Data was collected and analyzed on September 10, 2018. Any other date may have shown or show different numbers
    • Quality of the actual debut photoset product may have influenced the number of purchases, therefore the number of reviews

    Takeaways

    • Previously, few tools existed for brands to monitor and analyze the general consumer sentiment. With the increasing popularity of social media, brands started to pay more attention to metrics such as ‘likes’, with tools available to track these metrics
    • However, with ecommerce becoming a bigger part of our daily lives, brands should also look at ecommerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee as a rich and dynamic data set
    • With tools like BrandIQ and ReviewIQ, brands can track and analyze consumer behavior and sentiment on marketplaces, in addition to tracking their own performance as well as benchmarking against competitors selling similar products

    Ecommerce has been snowballing for more than six years in Southeast Asia but yet only recently, was there any progressive movement in taxing digital transactions.

    Government bodies in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia understand the importance of taxes on ecommerce sales (products and services) in order to capture a piece of the fast growing segment and more importantly, level the playing field between its brick-and-mortar peers.

    But implementing new tax regimes proves difficult given Southeast Asia’s “diverse and uncertain legal environment” explains Steven Sieker, head of Asia Pacific tax practice group.

    Under existing taxation laws, only local players and not foreign companies across markets fall within local tax regimes.

    “The main point is to try to tax multinational companies that are not registered in Thailand for their online business,” said Kanchirat Thaidamri, tax partner for Deloitte Thailand.

    “Online is simply a reflection of what exists in the offline world: small stores don’t report all their taxes in the outside world” – Jason Ding, partner at Bain & Co, China

    Below is a snapshot of the state of ecommerce tax regulations across six major APAC markets:

    Ecommerce Tax in Indonesia

    ecommerceIQ

    In 2017, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani stated the government wanted to “level the playing field between businesses that operate online and those offline, which must add 10% Value Added Tax (VAT) to the price of goods purchased”. While the tax rate is still unknown, it is expected to be lower than 10%.

    The ecommerce tax, when implemented, will cover four types of platforms: online marketplaces, classified ads, daily deals and online retail that operate in the local markets but will not be levied on sales through social networks (mainly Instagram and Facebook).

    Impact? Bolster the growth of social commerce in Indonesia, a country where social media platform usage is one of the highest in the world and weaken incentive to sell on e-marketplaces like Tokopedia and Lazada. Applying a 10% VAT rate to the online sector would bring in approximately USD$1.34 billion in additional tax revenues.

    The Indonesia Ecommerce Association (idEA) was discussing a 0.5% VAT from each marketplace seller at the beginning of the year with the Finance Ministry – nothing has been implemented.

    “If the tax regulation restricts ecommerce platforms – making selling in Bukalapak complicated because of the tax – there will be an exodus of people who would prefer selling on Instagram and Facebook, which is uncontrolled and not chased for tax because they sell through the back door,” – Bukalapak co-founder and chief financial officer Muhamad Fajrin Rasyid.

    Timeline for implementation? Public trial in 2019.

    Ecommerce Tax in Thailand

    ecommerceIQ
    In July earlier this year, the Cabinet approved a proposal to collect 7% VAT from foreign ecommerce platforms deriving annual service income exceeding THB1.8 million (US$56,000). These businesses must sign up as operators under the VAT system to report to the Revenue Department.

    The Nation reports the taxes apply to those selling goods and services on Internet platforms as well as the operators of Internet platforms such as Google, Amazon and Alibaba. Companies with an overseas presence and earning income from advertising/website space rental from Thailand are also subject to a 15% withholding tax.

    Impact? Operators such as Facebook and Google could pass on the additional costs to its sellers and ad buyers, likewise with  JD Central, Lazada and Shopee customers. Smaller players could be deterred from doing ecommerce if the business cannot sustain these taxes. Currently, vendors outside of Thailand are liable for 7% VAT only if value exceeds THB 1,500 (USD$45.76).

    Timeline for implementation? Government needs to forward the draft VAT bill to the Council of State (the government’s legal advisory body) before submitting to the National Legislative Assembly for a debate. Early 2019.

    Ecommerce Tax in Philippines

    ecommerceIQThe country is the only market out of the region with an ecommerce taxation. The 12% VAT on total value of online transactions of more than USD$37,310 came into effect in 2016 and is applicable to store owners as well. For transactions lower than the threshold, a 3% VAT is levied instead on online transactions.

    Impact? Any person or entity who, in the course of trade or business, sells, exchanges, or leases goods or properties, or renders services, and any person who imports goods, is liable to VAT. The government has its own challenges enforcing these taxes on different online business models as shutting down websites only leads to another one being created under a different IP address.

    Ecommerce Tax in Malaysia

    ecommerceIQAs of late 2017, there is a mechanism under Malaysia’s current GST model that taxes online services provided by local companies to Malaysian consumers, but currently is not applicable to foreign service providers.

    Impact? The implementation of the digital tax may mean that foreign service providers serving Malaysian consumers will be charged with tax. The service provider can pass on the tax to customers by adding it to existing prices.

    Timeline for implementation? The country is likely to follow the steps of its close neighbour Singapore.

    Ecommerce Tax in Singapore

    ecommerceIQCurrently, any online purchase in Singapore under SGD$400 (USD$290.17) is exempt from GST. The government did not include ecommerce tax in the budget released in February 2018 but the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said “B2B imported services will be taxed via a reverse charge mechanism, while B2C imported services will be taxed through an overseas vendor registration model” according to the Strait Times.

    Impact? Decrease in shopping overseas as prices could increase with the introduction of GST on ecommerce goods and services from overseas.

    Timeline for implementation? While many thought the new GST would be implemented in the 2018 budget released February this year, the government has tabled a concrete tax for ecommerce until 2020. Starting January 1, 2020, consumers will pay GST when buying online services from overseas, which includes music, video streaming, apps, online subscriptions, and digital B2B services such as marketing/accounting).

    Ecommerce Tax in Vietnam

    ecommerceIQ

    Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s most attractive and also nascent markets. Foreign ecommerce firms must have local representative office registered in Vietnam and pay VAT of 10%. Individual residents without an established ecommerce company in Vietnam will be subject to tax if they have annual sales revenue over USD$4,300. As of now, there isn’t heavy enforcement in place but there are plans for higher scrutiny by the National Assembly next year.

    In November 2017, Vietnam’s government also released a proposal for all cross-border payments to be made through domestic gateways via the National Payment Corporation of Vietnam.

    Impact? Not much concern in regards to Vietnam’s attractiveness as few companies have managed to ‘crack the local market’ and ecommerce contribution to total retail is still relatively small compared to other markets. The cross-border payments funnel will increase the tracking of tax liabilities by the National Payment Corporation of Vietnam.

    Timeline for implementation? Late 2019.

    Difficulties implementing an ecommerce tax in Southeast Asia

    Apart from climbing over the layers of government and overcoming pressure from big corporates, and complaints from SMEs calling foul play, regulators also face the large task of enforcing such new reforms, especially concerning tax on digital services.

    Products are easily tracked through physical movement in the country but services are intangible.

    Axcelasia Inc Executive Chairman Dr. Veerinderjeet Singh shares: “The problem with foreign online companies is they will charge 6% GST on customers for the purchase and delivery [in Malaysia], but how will the Customs collect that amount when they don’t have offices in the country? How do you regulate that? And if they miss a few payments, how will you impose a penalty on them?”

    Between now and 2020, when most implementations across Southeast Asia are expected to take root, Internet platforms and operators have little influence on the new tax policies but it’s the customers and the shift in their behaviour that will be largely impacted.

    In the words of Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah, “keep shopping while you can”.