A decision by Facebook to scrap its live shopping feature in October is unlikely to take a heavy toll on e-commerce in Thailand where sellers have not significantly counted on this function for their sales, according to industry pundits.
Facebook owner Meta said “Facebook Live Shopping” will be taken down from Oct 1.
Users can still use Facebook Live to broadcast live events, but will not be able to create product playlists or tag products in their Facebook Live videos, it said.
“As consumers’ viewing behaviours are shifting to short-form video, we are shifting our focus to Reels on Facebook and Instagram, Meta’s short-form video product,” Meta’s statement read.
However, the company urged vendors to try experimenting with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram to pursue customer engagement.
Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, chief executive and founder of Tarad.com, a local e-commerce solution provider, said Thai sellers rarely tag their products on live videos. They mostly use third-party software to support their online sales.
Mr Pawoot said Facebook Live Shopping with tagging products is not popular in Thailand.
“It is now a growing trend that merchants and brands are seeking to have multiple online sales channels as well as their own one to boost their product sales,” said Mr Pawoot.
Short-form video platform TikTok is now also catering for e-commerce but it is still in the early stage of development, he said.
Live shopping is popular for some specific products so the shutdown of this function would not pose a threat to the e-commerce industry.
Nuttapon Boonpinon, managing director of N-Squared eCommerce, an e-commerce solution provider, said the shutdown will not have much impact on e-commerce in Thailand where sellers do not usually tag products on live videos.
TikTok is now gaining more traction among online merchants as the platform has drawn a huge number of users, he said.
At the same time, customers are spending cautiously now due to the economic slowdown while the country’s reopening encourages people to pay more attention to leisure activities.
Food and beverage as well as groceries are expected to continue to grow in demand as they have seen less of an impact from the economic woes.
Paul Srivorakul, co-founder and chief executive of aCommerce, a Southeast Asian e-commerce enabler, said the shutdown would particularly affect small merchants and brands that use social commerce and free live shopping to organically build their brand, drive sales and manage customer engagement.
TikTok and marketplaces will definitely benefit from this as more brands will shift to those platforms, but brands and merchants will have to pay a higher commission, Mr Paul said.
It will be a better and easier customer experience on marketplaces as those platforms provide logistics, payments and customer support unlike Facebook that is a pure play platform and is more susceptible to fraud, he said.
“Brands and merchants would need to have a broader commerce strategy with permanent stores online across different channels because when executing Live Shopping their customers may not buy during the live-stream but have been branded and may visit their store or share their products to purchase later,” said Mr Paul.
Ruja Phitchayarom, managing director and chief marketing officer of Zort, a seller management platform, said the closing down of live shopping on Facebook would not have much impact on merchants while Thai shoppers can just type CF to confirm the bookings of the products they want.
The removal, however, signals that short videos could be more suitable for some specific products rather than the hour-long live selling of products, she said.
The food sector is growing well in e-commerce despite the country’s economic woes, Ms Ruja said. Zort saw gross merchandise value surge 60% year-on-year in the first seven months of this year.
She indicated social commerce would continue to grow with intense competition, particularly from Line Shopping and TikTok Shop.
According to a recent Future Shopper report commissioned by Wunderman Thompson, a marketing communications agency, Thailand tops the global list of the highest percentage of social commerce buyers at 88%.
More than 31,000 consumers in 18 markets were surveyed in the report, including 1,084 respondents in Thailand.
In Thailand, Facebook ranks first among social media platform respondents with the greatest quantity most likely to purchase at 62%. Facebook is also the platform which respondents said offers the best purchasing experience at 62%.