With nearly 50 million TikTok users in Thailand, ByteDance's short-form video platform is fast becoming an important tool to unlock opportunities for content creators and merchants, posing a strong challenge to existing e-marketplace platforms.
According to a Momentum Works report, TikTok is an emerging e-commerce player in Southeast Asia with a gross merchandise value (GMV) of US$4.4 billion from a total of $99.5 billion in the region in 2022.
In Thailand, TikTok gained 4% of the total $14.4 billion GMV last year, while Shopee claimed 56% and Lazada 40%.
Mr Pisut says TikTok positions itself as a trusted platform that creates impactful content.
In June, TikTok announced it was allocating millions of dollars in Southeast Asia over three years, aimed at helping more than 120,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) transition their businesses online and participate in the digital economy.
According to TikTok's statement, the $12.2-million investment comprises cash grants, digital skills training and advertising credits for SMEs, including small businesses in rural and suburban areas.
The company has positioned itself as a trusted platform that creates impactful content, Pisut Rojlertjanya, head of operations at TikTok Thailand, told the Bangkok Post.
TikTok has observed three trends that will continue to grow in the coming years, he said. The first is content that brings joy and inspiration, creating a positive impact, which reflects TikTok's DNA, said Mr Pisut.
The second trend is three types of popular content: entertainment news covering music, dance and reviews of TV shows and movies; lifestyle and education; and global sports coverage.
Third is content from fast-rising creators who are not well known but have gained millions of views for revealing candid moments, he said. These creators have a talent for crafting content that connects with the audience, said Mr Pisut.
"Funny, candid videos are a trend among Thai content on the platform," he said.
The platform will continue to provide educational support for content creators to build quality videos, while emphasising the safety and privacy of children, said Mr Pisut.
TikTok established a "creator house" for the first time in Southeast Asia, located on the fourth floor of Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok. It is a meeting place and workshop venue where creators can share ideas among themselves and acts as a venue for fan meetings.
The company also organises offline events, including Creator Day Thailand and the TikTok Awards, to widen opportunities for top creators to meet brand product owners.
TikTok will focus on offering exclusive privileges at its offline events, aiming to unlock more opportunities for creators to earn revenue by connecting with a variety of brands, he said.
For example, content creators will be offered a chance to see exclusive movie previews through collaboration with cinemas, said Mr Pisut. They can promote the movies and connect with related brands to increase their monetisation, while brands have an opportunity to access more creators, he said.
In terms of the company's responsibilities, TikTok works closely with the public sector. For instance, TikTok signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to support at least 100 shops in Bobae market, a Bangkok hub for fashion vendors, to sell products on TikTok Shop.
The company also launched a digital literacy programme at 109 schools to empower 35,000 students under the partnership with the BMA.
Mr Pisut said the profile of TikTok users in Thailand is a diverse age range that extends beyond young people. They spend more time on the platform during long holidays and special events such as Bangkok Fashion Week, he said.
Making shopping fun
Kornnikar Niwatsaiwong, head of TikTok Shop Thailand, said spontaneous, authentic and entertaining content is created every moment on TikTok, which forms the next online shopping trend called "shoppertainment".
The TikTok shoppertainment experience combines fun and entertaining content to drive business outcomes and connect brands, sellers and creators with TikTok communities, she said.
The platform unlocks opportunities for businesses of all sizes, said Ms Kornnikar. Content creators and users who create product reviews can earn revenue from the affiliate marketing model to help sellers and brand owners increase their sales.
TikTok Shop wants to bring trusted sellers to users, she said. Offering verified quality products makes buyers feel confident about purchasing items on its platform, said Ms Kornnikar.
The platform also has promotional campaigns and discounts, such as its Double Day 11:11 event.
"Thailand is among the top-tier markets for TikTok Shop in Southeast Asia," she said.
The Indonesian government recently prohibited the sale of products on social media platforms. The move aims to protect small businesses from e-commerce competition.
Ms Kornnikar said TikTok's is unique because of its user-led experience.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
People come to TikTok for entertainment and may end up buying something on the platform as an impulse purchase, she said. Other platforms are specifically designed to promote shopping, said Ms Kornnikar.
According to research by Boston Consulting Group, the shoppertainment trend will generate $1 trillion in business opportunities across Asia-Pacific by 2025, with $2.4 billion in Thailand.
Ms Kornnikar said TikTok cancelled a free shipping scheme, but offers plenty of free shopping vouchers and discounts for buyers.
"We're also screening and reviewing products sold on our platform to benefit consumers and build trust among sellers," she said.
The keys to success for sellers on the platform are product quality, competitive prices and authentic content, said Ms Kornnikar.
Popular categories include fast-moving consumer goods, beauty and personal care, and food, while rising categories are electronics and items for pets, she said.
TikTok Shop wants local communities to sell products on the platform, promoting a partnership with the Community Development Department by offering sellers advertising support credit, said Ms Kornnikar.
The company's revenue mainly derives from commission fees from sellers, with a smaller amount from advertising by product owners.
"Competition among the three major e-commerce players will promote a healthy industry, which is good for consumers," she said.