Bigger slice for e-commerce
Online retail commerce will account for a double-digit share of the overall retail market in Thailand by 2021, thanks to the shift in consumer behaviour to mobile devices and the national e-payment scheme.
A significant reduction in logistics costs for e-commerce is also a major boon to the local e-commerce market, said Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, chief executive of Ascend Commerce, the country's leading online retail commerce firm, the operator of iTruemart and weloveshopping websites.
"Thailand's online retail commerce will continue to grow by at least 30% over the next few years, driven by increased smartphone penetration and intense competition among e-commerce operators," said Mr Punnamas.
The government's PromptPay service under the national e-payment scheme will also spur e-commerce activities.
He said average delivery costs for e-commerce products have sharply declined from 45 baht apiece in 2015 to 20 baht apiece this year, thanks to fierce competition among logistics service providers.
Mr Punnamas said Thailand's online retail commerce accounted for only 2% of the total retail market in 2015 or 50 billion baht, an increase of 30% from 2014, compared with 15.9% in China and 7% in the US.
"We expect online retail will account for 10% of the total retail market within the next five years," said Mr Punnamas.
Thailand ranked fourth in Asean's e-commerce market, behind Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
However, he said mobile commerce in Thailand has continued to cement itself as a significant online marketplace, accounting for 49% of total e-commerce transactions, compared with 49% in China and 22% in the US.
Thailand's smartphone penetration increased from 43% in 2013 to 61% in 2015. The rate is expected to reach 80% in 2017.
Mr Punnamas said he believed there will be just two dominant players in Thailand's e-commerce market within the next two years.
Ascend Commerce spent 300 million baht to create its own brand, Wemall, in what it dubbed Thailand's first brand online retail marketplace.
After one month of operation, Wemall now has over 100 brands participating with the company's platform providing 60,000 product items. Wemall saw 2 million visitors.
Electronic gadgets, health and beauty products, and fashion are the best-selling products.
"We expect to have 3,000 brands at our marketplace by 2017," said , general manager of Ascend Commerce.
Wemall earns a commission from online merchants plus a fee from logistics service providers.
Wemall's platform replicates Alibaba's Tmall, a popular e-commerce platform for business-to-consumer online retail that allows Chinese shoppers to purchase both international and local brands.
Mr Seubsakol said the company will use Wemall as a business role model for expanding throughout Southeast Asia by 2017.