Thailand Post targets community e-commerce
Units aimed at helping vendors in rural areas
Next year will see the development of a community e-commerce ecosystem nationwide, with the government targeting to create 10,000 such e-commerce units by end of 2018 and 25,000 by 2020, says Pichet Durongkaveroj, the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister.
He said 2018 is the time to seriously strengthen community e-commerce, serving the government's Thailand 4.0 policy. The national broadband network for 24,700 villages (Pracha Rat internet) that started construction in December 2016 will be completed by the end of this month, said Mr Pichet.
The national broadband project will provide the infrastructure while community e-commerce units will help people in rural communities more easily access the e-marketplace.
Mr Pichet said the DE Ministry is collaborating with three ministries (education, agriculture and cooperatives, and commerce) to develop the e-commerce units, improving rural folks' e-commerce skills and knowledge.
Working with the Commerce Ministry should increase the number of community e-commerce units in rural areas because the ministry already has projects to improve the operations of small grocery stores in communities nationwide so they can compete with convenience stores, he said.
Mr Pichet said such small groceries can join the project by registering with local post offices to act as community e-commerce units.
The units will operate as one-stop service posts for e-commerce activities, offering three categories of service through Thailand Post: e-marketplace, e-payment and e-logistics systems.
"These units will be a major component of the community economy the government is promoting to generate additional income for rural people, helping traditional merchants to go online, understand digital technology and use smart management," he said.
Mr Pichet said developing the units will also improve the competency of Thailand Post in the long run, giving it a new fee revenue stream amid pressure from international parcel delivery services.
"I do not think international parcel delivery companies will invest in the construction of hard infrastructure in communities, and they lack the community engagement Thailand Post provides. However, Thailand Post should not underestimate those competitors," he said.
Samorn Terdthampiboon, president of Thailand Post, said the company has been developing the project for months, with eight community e-commerce units in Nan province registered with the company. Thailand Post targets increasing community e-commerce units to 200 in the North by the end of this month.
Its goal is 10,000 units nationwide selling more than 50,000 items by the end of 2018, she said, rising to around 25,000 units by 2020 covering all communities where broadband infrastructure is available.
Mrs Samorn said the units will connect online to offline marketplaces.
The units will help vendors access the online marketplace via Thailandpostmart.com, the main website of the project. Items will be listed on a central database and uploaded via an e-catalogue system connected to other communities to promote the products.
All community e-commerce units will be equipped with a point-of-sale application that is meant to help rural merchants with product inventory management, sales reports, logistics channels and e-payment transactions via debit, credit and the e-wallet system of Thailand Post.
Mr Pichet said the DE Ministry and other involved ministries plan to create 100,000 master trainers by the end of 2018 to train people in the communities to improve their digital literacy and skills.
Mrs Samorn said under the Thailand Post 4.0 roadmap, the company is focusing on providing standardised services and improving efficiency to serve consumer demand.
Thailand Post has allocated at least 3 billion baht a year from 2016 to 2018 to upgrade its core information technology automation systems and distribution centres, including vehicles, to achieve its goal.
She said Thailand Post recorded first-half revenue of 13.4 billion baht, with a net profit of 1.97 billion baht, an increase of 18% year-on-year.
In a related development, Mr Pichet said the construction of the national broadband network, planned for 24,700 villages nationwide, by the TOT is almost finished.
As of last week, TOT reported it has installed the broadband network in 23,214 villages.
The project is part of the government's effort to provide affordable high-speed internet access to low-income rural households.
Samorn: Units will have POS application