Amazon helping Thai SMEs to sell in U.S. market

It may be a jungle out there, but Amazon, the world’s leading e-commerce website, wants to cut a path through the cyber-wilderness for small and medium sized Thai businesses by offering them training on how to use its site to penetrate the United States business-to-business market and sell to American companies sourcing goods and services from overseas, Amazon said last week.

The company’s Facebook page “Amazon Global Selling South East Asia & ANZ” has been advertising its “Jumpstart Pro 2018” project that features a professional team to consult with approved online wholesalers. “Those who have been recruited for the project will receive a lot of privileges [for] shipping, special rates and ad budget, promoting products on Amazon, etc.,’’ the page posted.

Amazon had already unveiled the project in Bangkok for online wholesalers, but last week said it has launched JumpStart Chiang Mai by joining hands with Siam Commercial Bank, Payoneer, E-Commerce Education, Benzio Institute and DHL, allowing new vendors based in upper Thailand to sell their products in the U.S.

For now, Amazon is limiting its project to Thai small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engaged in business-to-business selling and exporting. The company has not said if it will eventually also create a project for the Thai businesses targeting the consumer market.

Using Facebook as an avenue to publicize and enlist Thai businesses is not surprising as the head of Amazon Global Selling Thailand, Rathiya Issarachaikul, was formerly the SME business manager for Facebook Thailand.

Amazon sees eBay as its main competitor for Thai merchants that want to sell online in the United States. For more than a decade, eBay has been encouraging Thai wholesalers to use its platform to sell to Americans.

But other powerful e-commerce players are also courting Thai SMEs. They include Alibaba, and Central.

Burin Kledmanee, chief operating of ReadyPlanet Co, told the Bangkok Post that Amazon’s strategy is similar to the one employed by Alibaba, except that Amazon is more selective and rigorous in which SMEs it will recruit. Burin was the first Alibaba partner in Thailand and recruited SMEs to sell online via the Alibaba platform.

Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, founder of and president of Thai E-commerce Association, said the Amazon project represents a good starting point and opportunity for Thai SME exporters looking to crack the American market.