Thailand leads the region in social media e-commerce


Thai people’s passion for social media platforms is translating into big business as Thailand leads Southeast Asia in social media e-commerce with nearly $11 billion in annual sales and growing, presenting golden opportunities for local entrepreneurs and global businesses.

Factors that are driving growth in social media e-commerce include advances in mobile banking applications and the relatively late entry of website-based global e-commerce giants in the Kingdom’s market. Couple that with the 38 million Thais who access Facebook every day, which equals 57 percent of the population, and the ingredients for success are available for entrepreneurs.

“Facebook and Instagram give people an opportunity. If you do it right with good content, in just seven months you can make millions,” said Anurak Saruethai, who earned over $829,000 in the month of March 2019 alone selling dried shrimp, squid, and fish through live-streaming on Facebook every night from his home in southern Satun province.

Thailand’s closest rival in social media selling in Southeast Asia is Indonesia, where 40 percent of e-commerce is conducted on social media. The Indonesian market, however, amounted to just $3 billion in sales in 2017, the same year Thailand took in $10.9 billion, according to research firm McKinsey & Company.

Live-streaming by entrepreneurs has also become popular in India and China, according to Forrester Research, where the total earnings are even higher because of the size of their markets.

Vilaiporn Taweelappontong of PwC Thailand told the South China Morning Post that the Thai social commerce market is very customer-centric, and Thai shoppers love to browse and share, which gives social media an advantage over big online shopping malls.

“Merchants do everything to ensure customers have a good experience. In the United States and Europe, there is more standardization and there are fewer choices because the emphasis is on the back-end and things moving faster,” she said.

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