Phone vendors turn to e-commerce

Phone vendors turn to e-commerce

Two leading mobile phone distributors are aggressively moving into online channels as their traditional brick and mortar stores face strong challenges from the digital platform.

TG Cellular World and Jay Mart Plc aim to capitalise on the rapid growth of e-commerce as well as to establish an online presence that allows customers to move seamlessly between in-store, mobile and online platforms.

TG Cellular World, a mobile distributor under the TF Fone brand, is investing 20 million baht to build its online platform, while Jay Mart began selling phones online late last year.

The companies saw sales from shops fall considerably as many customers were lured to buy low-cost smartphones under brands owned by mobile operators. 

Pairoj Thavornsapanant, assistant managing director of TG Cellular World, said the online channel would make it easier to reach the younger generation.

Its main customers are aged 27 and over and its 170 mobile outlets are located in good locations near workplaces and shopping centres.

To capture youngsters, it has launched TeeGee, a mobile application for iOS and Android-based phones, to provide service information, a comparison of phone specifications, discounts and privileges with cross-marketing partners.

The app will also allow customers to buy mobile products by September. 

TG Cellular World expects at least 1 million people will download its TeeGee app this year, rising to 2.5 million by 2016. 

Mr Pairoj said the company would soon launch a 20-million-baht customer loyalty programme rather than just expanding branches.

Building loyalty is key to differentiate distributors in the changing handset marketing landscape, which is being challenged by operators that bundle mobile tariffs with cheap handset prices.

Mr Pairoj said sales of mobile phones in Thailand were expected to reach 20 million units this year, with 75% from smartphones. Smartphones with large screens priced from 5,000 to 9,000 baht will be the most popular.

TG Cellular World expects revenue to grow at single-digit rate this year, up from 9 billion baht in 2014, which was an increase of 12% from 2013.

Narathip Wirunechatapant, senior marketing manager of Jay Mart, said the company was on the verge of giving a major facelift to its online shopping site. The move aims to expand its reach upcountry, targeting customers aged below 18.

Jay Mart has decided to reduce its number of new shops to 20 this year under a 60-million-baht budget, taking its total to 260. It expects its handset sales revenue to grow by 15% this year, up from 9 billion baht in 2014.

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