With the online shopping market expected to rise to 470 billion baht in three years, messaging app Line is embarking on an e-commerce platform called Line Shopping by providing a wide assortment of items from 15 major online marketplaces.
The move is expected to affect similar platforms, such as RebateMango and Shopback, as well as the online marketplaces where customers may choose to buy products through Line Shopping instead of reaching them directly.
"Line foresees that e-commerce will have high growth in addition to Line Official Account, Line TV and Line Man, as Thailand is one of the largest online retail markets in Southeast Asia," said Lertad Supadilok, head of e-commerce business at Line Thailand.
According to Kasikorn Research Center, Thailand's online shopping market is set to grow at an average rate of 16% a year and the market value could rise to 470 billion baht in 2022. By then, online shopping will account for 8.2% of the combined retail and wholesale market.
Thai people face challenges when they shop online, including comparing prices of products from various sources, over-advertising on online marketplaces and fraud.
To deal with these issues, Line is partnering with Priceza, a price comparison platform, to develop Line Shopping, which will be a channel where consumers can compare prices of products from various marketplaces with notifications when there are price changes, discounts or promotions, Mr Lertad said.
These marketplaces include Lazada, Shopee, Advice, Makro, Asia Books, All About You, Aston, Beauticool, Beauty Plaza, TV Direct, Wellness Mark Shop, Nespresso, Missha and It's Skin.
"We use our customer relationship management software and embrace artificial intelligence to personalise products that are displayed to each user," Mr Lertad said.
Mr Lertad says the app will offer personalised service.
Under Line Shopping, customers will get Line points -- one point is equivalent to one baht -- that can be used to purchase other products from Line and Rabbit Line Pay merchants.
"Online shoppers will receive loyalty points from the marketplaces as well," Mr Lertad said.
The platform, which was soft-launched in March, has received a promising response from online shoppers with 2.5 million active users a month. The number of shoppers through the platform is aimed at reaching 8 million by this year, or 18% of the country's 44 million Line users.
Fashion and beauty products are expected to be a boon for the platform, which also brings new shoppers to the marketplace partners.
"Shoppers on Line may only browse through products, while those in other platforms have a clear intention to purchase or search for products," Mr Lertad said.
Thanawat Malabuppha, chief executive and co-founder of Priceza, said Line Shopping, with which his company partners, will serve as a gateway enabling Line users to go shopping online.
"We earn revenue from commission fees set aside by the marketplaces," Mr Thanawat said. "The fees will be shared between Line, Priceza and customers, who will receive points."
Line Shopping will be an alternative channel to attract more potential buyers to those marketplaces and brand sites, he said.