Bosch keen on online parts market

Bosch keen on online parts market

The Thai unit of the German car parts maker Robert Bosch Ltd (Bosch) is tapping into e-commerce to cater to younger consumers who enjoy the convenience of shopping online.

Kuldhaj Bunbongkarn, general manager of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket Thailand and Laos, said Bosch intends to make its products available on more online shopping platforms, in line with Thailand's booming online economy.

Drivers in Thailand can purchase Bosch automotive products online on Lazada and other e-commerce platforms such as WeMall, 11street and Cmart (formerly Cdiscount) in 2017.

Bosch sells 39 auto-related products on Lazada, many of which allow car owners to replace items by themselves, such as engine oil, batteries and windshield wipers.

The company plans to add up to 100 automotive products this year on Lazada and other online platforms to serve higher demand for internet shopping, he said.

Mr Kuldhaj said the internet has become very important for Thais, citing a report by the International Telecommunication Union that local internet penetration rose to 44.1% last year from 28.9% in 2013.

"The company expects aggressive growth of online sales, as statistics show 59% of Thai internet users do so for shopping," he said.

To strengthen its distribution network and improve communications with retailers, Bosch also introduced the eXtra B2B customer loyalty programme, with a mobile application to support over 10,000 of its local wholesellers and retailers.

Bosch expects around 5,000 application downloads this year.

The company also plans to expand its service network, run by local partners, from 31 to 35 locations this year.

In 2015 the local branch of Bosch recorded sales growth of 22% to 10.8 billion baht, marking both a 25-year high and the strongest sales among its Asean operations.

Today Bosch produces 10 automotive product lines, including original equipment and spare parts for passenger and commercial vehicles in Thailand: batteries, wiper systems, spark plugs, brake systems, filters, petrol fuel systems, diesel fuel systems, lighting, electrical items and other electrical equipment.

The company said last October it was investing €43 million (1.6 billion baht) in a new factory and automotive research and development centre in Thailand to accommodate its growing business in the region.

The investment is part of €80 million the company planned to pour into the Asean region in 2016.

The remaining budget was slated for an expansion of its manufacturing and sales facilities in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, most of which are scheduled to begin their operations this year.

The new factory and automotive R&D centre at Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate in Rayong is meant to produce fuel injectors with an annual capacity of 1 million units. The factory and centre are expected to create about 800 jobs.

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