Thai e-commerce surges 14 percent, fastest in the region

E-commerce is growing faster in Thailand than any other country in Southeast Asia, surging by 14 percent last year, and government officials said last week they expect it will increase by 20 percent in 2019, boding well for the Kingdom’s digital transformation.

Changes in technologies and consumer behavior are driving this rapid growth, along with an expanding base of internet users, according to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), which released the statistics last week. Other factors contributing to the rise of online commerce and trade are the falling prices for smartphones and reductions in fees for services.

The Thai government is encouraging the adoption of more e-commerce. It is promoting the development of a cashless society and has launched a national e-payment system called Promptpay. Digital industries are part of the select group of industries that is part of Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national development strategy to create a more advanced economy and society.

The ETDA reported that the value of e-commerce in the Kingdom was $862 billion in 2017. On average, the e-commerce had been growing by 8 to 10 percent a year since 2014 when the agency began measuring it, according to Surangkana Wayuparp, president of ETDA.

She said in 2017 Thailand had 45.2 million internet users, compared with just 16.1 million in 2008. “Thailand is a country that has considerable strengths in the B2C (business-to-consumer) sector – one of the biggest growths in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), comparing recent years,” she said.

The B2B, or business-to-business sector has been growing just as strongly, rising by an average of 13.6 percent in 2018. Business-to-government e-commerce, or B2G, was the best performer in 2018, rising by 15.5 percent.

In tandem with online selling, online marketing has also been expanding exponentially, growing overall by 70 percent since 2014, according to the ETDA.

Businesses have been able to grow sales by employing big data. That allows them to analyze consumer behavior and develop new products that will meet the needs of consumers.

Nearly 93 percent of service providers said they used big data to create marketing strategies, and 85.7 percent say they are using it to analyze elements that might impact buyer decisions so that they can plan distribution of their products.