Shopee targets SME sellers with new features

Shopee targets SME sellers with new features

Shopee, a Singapore-based e-commerce site under Sea Group, aims to attract more local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to increase revenue and leverage its 30 million users.

"Thailand's e-commerce market is still in the initial stages, faced with strong competition. This is an important market for Shopee," said Agatha Soh, head of marketing at Shopee Thailand.

Shopee has grown quickly in the past few years by using a localisation strategy that allowed it to reach 30 million users, out of 40.7 million total internet users logged in Thailand in 2018. This was an increase from 7 million people in Thailand out of a total 29 million internet users in 2016.

In 2018, Shopee's regional gross merchandise value (GMV) reached US$10 billion out of a total Southeast Asia market value of $23 billion, a 44% market share. In 2017, Shopee had a regional GMV of $4 billion out of a total $11 billion, a 37% market share.

A study conducted by Google and Temasek predicted Thailand's e-commerce market to be worth $13 billion by 2025, up from $3 billion in 2018.

The company aims to attract more local sellers from 650,000 in Thailand to gain revenue from paid advertising.

Shopee is beta-testing a free tool that lets merchants sell their products "live".

In order to increase the number of sellers, Shopee is collaborating with the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion and Business Development Department to provide a three-month intensive course called Shopee Bootcamp for SMEs. The company wants to increase sales by local SMEs that attend the course by 100%.

"SMEs form the core of Thailand's economy and represent 42% of the country's total GDP," Ms Soh said. "Shopee will help them -- One Tambon One Product, fashion, health and beauty merchants -- reach new buyers."

She referred to a 2018 study by the IMF that found going online helps businesses increase productivity by up to 30%. She said bringing more SMEs online can spur growth in the economy.

Another study predicted that Thailand's GDP growth will decline 2% by 2035 due to an ageing population, declining investment and a shortage of skilled labour and innovation knowledge.

"Shopee hopes to play a part to flip this economic stagnation and empower online SMEs," Ms Soh said.

Shopee also launched Shopee Mall, a dedicated space for over 1,000 different brands, expanding into the business-to-consumer (B2C) market where it previously focused on consumer-to-consumer (C2C). Under the Shopee Mall section, the company earns revenue from a commission fee.

Another new section is Shopee for Men, which focuses on male grooming products and services.

Ms Soh said that to date the Shopee mobile app has 30 million downloads in Thailand and most users are 15-25 years old.

Shopee is marketing directly to the key youth demographic by teaming up with the K-Pop girl group Blackpink as its first regional brand ambassador. The company will continue to use local brand ambassadors Nadej and Yaya.

"We will use more games from Garena under Sea Group and Airpay's e-wallet to make users more engaged and provide new features for an immersive experience to attract new users," Ms Soh said.

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