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Thailand’s digital and ecommerce landscape could experience 20x growth over the next ten years as the online ecosystem becomes available to the majority of shoppers.

With social channels and new means of communication, methods of targeting consumers and a more holistic understanding of shoppers in a digital age, ecommerce is becoming a true staple in driving business growth in the country.

The integration of social channels in all platforms has also increased. Facebook has become a viable platform for buying and selling among online Thai shoppers, with 44 million active users in the country and reaching 7% yearly growth. Instagram is another important platform that has almost 10 million users in Thailand.

Meanwhile, the tech industry’s most talked about mobile app, Snapchat (that recently filed its IPO), remains a less popular social platform in the country. The app, however, is testing social commerce functions to potentially strengthen its positioning in the market.

Priceza: Predicting 20x growth in the next ten years

According to Tanawat Mahabupha, co-founder of Priceza, Thai consumers are not necessarily seeking out the cheapest deals. The quality of products and credibility of brands are becoming integral to the decision making process.

“This year, Thailand will have a strengthened infrastructure. Both payment and logistics will become crucial drivers of progress. It can be said that if e-payment takes off, so will ecommerce.”

The shopping behavior of Thais is a mix between going onto marketplaces to browse and/or shopping directly from brand.com. This is especially the case for more premium products, such as cosmetics.

Currently, Southeast Asia is experiencing the most rapid growth in ecommerce and Thailand has the highest gross merchandise value (GMV) in its group. This means that retailers and brands need to be quick in adopting digital strategies. Aside from competing over the speed of launching a product, brands also need to act swiftly in logistics and customer service. The importance of a speedy delivery service is crucial to the success of an ecommerce strategy.

Lnw Shop: Great consolidated ecosystem by sellers 

Nuttawit Polwattanakul, CEO of Lnw plc, or Lnw Shop says that this year, social commerce will experience even more robust growth. A lot of brands will be turning to channels that do not require them to pay a fee, such as Instagram or Facebook.

According to Nattawit, e-payment may take approximately 3-4 years to fully take off and calm the fears of consumers. It’s important to ensure that marketplaces accommodate the incoming new comers in payment in order to accommodate the country’s diversifying payments landscape.

The government is currently pushing initiatives for SMEs, educating the market about different marketing channels and how to use them. Most recently, the Thai government announced an official partnership with ecommerce giant Alibaba to boost growth for small and medium sized players. SMEs are also recommended to integrate Facebook Live into online strategies.

Aside from the development of payment, logistics and marketing, more sellers will want to join forces to target consumers. It is a challenge to construct and operate a website, which is why Thais prefer to join forces and provide customers with collaborative platform, especially in the area of logistics and last mile.

Ascend Group: Promotions are not enough

Thananan Arunrukchai from Ascend Group has pointed out that for e-payment to take off, it must be a no hassle, one step process, otherwise, the complications will drive consumers to resume  shopping via chat apps and bank transfers.

He also notes that it’s vital for brands to understand what their customers want and identify the appropriate marketplaces. This is more important than dishing out promotions in the long run. Some brands often overlook the importance of a customer experience, and instead focus on giving away promotions without much brand engagement.

COL Plc: It’s not easy to go online

According to Worawut Oonjai, chief executive of COL Plc., ecommerce only makes up 2-3% of total retail, hence the growth potential. According to him, it is not easy to go online. Brands should use marketplaces as a platform to test the waters and diversify their online presence.

Brands should widen their marketplace selection in order to collect enough data and the know-how to launch a brand.com.

However, if a brand truly wishes to pursue a brand.com strategy, they need to be strong enough; factors such as funding and a niche market would be necessary for a successful direct-to-consumer strategy.

Looking forward

TNS, global market research company, reports that Thai people have the highest use of social media platforms – 92% of users on a daily basis. Bain & Co also released findings that the Thailand online market is estimated to make up 15% of total retail by 2024.

For companies realizing the importance of ecommerce, are they too late to the game? Not really. Convenience store chain MaxValu recently announced that they are in the middle of executing an online strategy after witnessing a rise in online demand from when they sold new year gift baskets via online distributors. For companies with large offline footprints and strong customer base, they actually have an advantage.

So there we have it, the thoughts of some of Thailand’s ecommerce influencers. The country is undeniably undergoing fast internet adoption and with the increasing popularity of social commerce and marketplaces, brands are under pressure to seize the ten year growth potential. It’s important to use marketplace visibility to tread into ecommerce and as a stepping stone to a brand.com strategy, but brands should be wary of following the herd and without fully establishing a footprint in the ecosystem first.

This post was translated and modified from Bangkokbiznews.com and Prachachat.net. Read the original entries in Thai here and here.

Amazon’s rapid expansion into private label brands

Earlier today, TechCrunch published an article titled “Amazon to Expand Private-Label Offerings—From Food to Diapers” detailing Amazon’s successful push into private label brands covering lucrative categories ranging from batteries, mom & baby to even perishable food items. The concept of retailers selling their own private label brands has been around for ages, mainly adopted by grocery chains with the goal to increase margins for often low-profit consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories. It’s not so much players like Amazon are doing this but how and why they’re doing this that should ring some alarm bells with brands.

The ultimate bait and switch

Global ecommerce giants like Amazon and, increasingly, local Southeast Asian players like Lazada and MatahariMall are offering perks to entice brands to open stores and sell through their platforms. This strategy resembles Ladies Night at clubs, where women are offered free drinks to indirectly lure men, who, more often than not, end up with a headache, alone and having burnt a hole in their pocket at the end of the night.

With aggressive promotions and subsidies from their hosts, brands often see quick short-term gains in online sales. The extreme example here is 11.11, a man-made online shopping festival during which retailers compete in the Discount Olympics. Obviously, brands benefit from spikes in sales but little do they know that they’re actually selling their souls in the long-term. It’s like crack, it makes you feel great for a while but sooner or later it’s hollowing out your body.

With the massive amounts of data generated on a day-to-day basis, these ecommerce platforms can easily identify consumer trends, such as best selling products and categories beyond what brands are able to see themselves. This data is then leveraged by retailers to develop and introduce their own private label brands to compete with the brands they partnered with in the first place.

Once launched, these platforms could favor their own white-label brands by giving them more visibility through favorable product placements as well as top rankings on internal search result pages.

The bigger picture

Players like Amazon and Alibaba’s Tmall aren’t really traditional ecommerce retailers. Their main objective is to use competitive pricing, often subsidized, on retail products to acquire more and more users, which they then monetize through other means such as Amazon Prime subscription fees for Amazon and onsite advertising and Alipay transaction fees for Tmall.

Amazon’s new CPG brands like Happy Belly and Mama Bear are only available to Prime members in a move to incentivize joining its $99-a-year unlimited shipping program that’s fueling Amazon’s retail growth behind the scenes.

In a post-Alibaba acquisition world, ecommerce power-players like Lazada could potentially increase awareness of their own private label brands through better placements on their marketplace, eventually forcing other brands to pay more for advertising to rank higher and get traffic.

With private labels, Amazon and the likes of Lazada also have more “room” to play in terms of pricing, allowing them to maintain sustainable low prices, keep driving more users and spinning the flywheel.

Strategies for brands

Brands like P&G, Unilever and Nestle should look at ecommerce marketplaces as a relatively easy way to test selling online but in the long-term, brands are arguably better off selling direct-to-consumer where they have full control of the brand image, customer experience and, most importantly, user data.

A case in point is Coach. The luxury brand was one of the first brands to set up shop on Tmall in China but recently closed down its official flagship store, leaving the brand with only a brand.com and WeChat presence. Many luxury brands have expressed concerns about the mass-market image of some of the bigger marketplaces.

Brands don’t have to pick between marketplace and brand.com only. Some brands like L’Oreal have adopted a multi-channel approach where their marketplace presence generates sales for their more mass and lower price point items whereas their brand.com site sustains long-tail and higher average order value sales.

At the end of the day, marketplaces are a great way for brands to jump into ecommerce. However, brands should be aware of the pros and cons and especially long-term implications of such a decision.

BY SHEJI HO

The Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has registered with the Malaysian Trade Ministry’s halal ecommerce portal, ehalal.comreports Jakarta Post.

The portal serves not as an online store to sell products but rather as a catalogue that lists halal products available for sale. The portal directs buyers to verified suppliers or its ecommerce partners.

Halal products account for 11% of total products in the world. Around 67% is food and beverages, 22% pharmaceutical and the remainder beauty products.

What is ehalal.com?

ehalal is an initiative by the Halah Industry Corporation, which is expected to generate a turnover of approximately $73M this year, its first year of operations. The platform is rolling out to China, South Korea and Singapore, along with Indonesia, to bridge all Halal suppliers in the country, in order to expand the ecommerce business.

Besides Indonesian and Malaysian products, ones from India can also be found on ehalal.com. The Malaysian Trade Ministry would conduct a road show in Thailand, Australia, Japan and Europe in August and September to attract more partners.

ehalal.com also works with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to incorporate MUI’s database to verify a product’s halal certificate, allowing users to view it on the product page.

More countries are viewing the halal market as an emerging market force, a sector which can significantly contribute to economic growth in Asia.

A version of this appeared in Jakarta Post on August 2. Read the full version here.

It has been confirmed that Oracle will acquire NetSuite for approximately $9.3 billion in an all cash deal, reports TechCrunch. This is indeed the year for mergers & acquisitions.

Both Oracle and NetSuite’s cloud service offerings aimed at enterprise customers will continue to operate and ‘coexist’ in the marketplace.

According to a statement made by Oracle CEO, Mark Hurd, “NetSuite and Oracle’s offerings are complimentary. Oracle intends to continue to invest in the engineering and distribution aspects of both companies going forward.”

NetSuite claims a dominant position in the cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) space, which includes offerings to help businesses track supply and demand, inventory, accounting, customer relationships (CRM) and HR.

Oracle in general has been an aggressive acquirer of smaller companies throughout 2016, with recent pick-ups including Opower and Textura. Oracle’s acquisition of NetSuite dwarfs its previous 2016 acquisitions in total deal value.

Although Oracle and NetSuite’s offerings are similar, Netsuite will offer Oracle access to smaller sized companies than their usual clientele. It could also give Oracle some additional competitive edge in taking on its primary rival, Salesforce.

According to Forbes, Cloud is already a multi-billion dollar business for Oracle, but pure cloud software still represents a fraction of the company’s overall business, with cloud software as a service accounting for just 6.5% of revenue in its Q4 fiscal earnings.

Oracle Chairman, Larry Ellison’s major investment in NetSuite has long fueled speculation that the companies would unite at some point. In this case, NetSuite decided that the company’s future as an independent entity would no longer grow faster than if part of the massive Oracle operation.

Versions of this appeared in TechCrunch and Forbes on July 28. Read the full versions here and here.

Mobile-first shopping and fashion discovery app, Goxip is in the midst of raising another round of funding to boost their growth in Southeast Asia. The app targets over a million downloads in 2016, both from its home market Hong Kong and the newly launched market, Malaysia. The next funding will be notably larger as the company plans to launches a marketplace and expanding to a new market.

Earlier this year, Goxip raised a seed round of $1.6 million, one of the largest in Southeast Asia, but the team anticipates the cash run to shorten as their growth speeds up.

“Our next phase is to develop a marketplace and execute that in the next two months, or less. We are looking to partner with local designers and retailers as well,” Juliette Gimenez, Goxip CEO and co-founder said during a press conference. “We don’t have a fixed runway for what we raised, but we may be utilising the funds to grow faster than we originally expected.”

Goxip is Raising Fund to Build a Marketplace

Source: goxip.com

Goxip Marketplace

Goxip’s marketplace will be built for merchants and individuals to run their own online stores. They have also been eyeing Thailand and Indonesia as potentially new markets, but the team said 2016 will largely focus on growing its business in Hong Kong and Malaysia. The team is also aggressively hiring to pull off its growth plans.

The Hong Kong-based startup announced a $1.62 million seed funding in May, led by first-time tech startup investor, and socialite entrepreneur Chryseis Tan who committed $1.5 million for a 30% stake in the startup. Another $120,000 was contributed by Ardent Capital, which has a track record investing in ecommerce platforms around the region.

Chryseis Tan is also the daughter of Malaysian tycoon, Vincent Tan, who owns the conglomerate Berjaya Group operating various businesses in food and beverage, retail, automotive, property and gaming, has been a key mentor to the Goxip team.

A version of this first appeared in Deal Street Asia on July 28. Read the full article here

Retailers afraid of Amazon’s growth can take consolation in the fact that Prime Day was not the resounding success of last year. Anticipation was high but sales were flat in the US and many customers complained on social media about checkout problems.

Fashion and Apparel brands also failed to benefit from the occasion. Brands in these categories did not sell a large number of products despite promoting Prime Day deals more than usual, according to L2 research.

On Prime Day, there were more than 1,300 Active and Upcoming deals in Men’s and Women’s Clothing and Fashion– a sharp increase from the average day in June, when only 100 Unique Deals existed in those categories. This suggests Fashion and Clothing sellers and brands were looking to leverage Prime Day.

However, only 13 men’s and six women’s deals had been completely claimed at the time of data collection. Furthermore, 15 of those deals were for watches or sunglasses – often licensed products not sold directly by brands.

Furthermore, clothing was a slow seller: the average clothing deal sold less than a quarter of available stock. At the time of data collection, the 12 clothing deals with the largest discounts had only sold 28% and with less than two hours remaining, it was unlikely they would exhaust that inventory.

In Asia, fast fashion is experiencing troubles selling online. Rumours of Rocket Internet’s fashion site Jabong surfaced of an extremely low valuation and in April Zalora, the Southeast Asia fashion e-tailer was acquired in Thailand for a mere $10 million.

A version of this appeared in L2 on July 14. Read the full article here.