Thai e-commerce forges ahead

Thai e-commerce forges ahead

Market consolidation to continue, says study

A man learns about a mobile app's support for online trade. E-commerce will make up an estimated 15% of Thai retail sales by 2024, Bain says. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD
A man learns about a mobile app's support for online trade. E-commerce will make up an estimated 15% of Thai retail sales by 2024, Bain says. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

Thailand's online market will account for 15% of retail sales in the country by 2024 after registering 3.8% last year, says Bain & Co.

Thailand now ranks second in Southeast Asia in terms of e-commerce transaction value and market size, said Sebastien Lamy, a Bain partner and expert in the firm's digital practice.

The local online retail market will continue to consolidate until only a few players remain, as occurred in China, South Korea and the US.

"In the past 12-18 months, Southeast Asia was at an inflection point for the online retail market where supply and demand intersected," Mr Lamy said.

A Bain study found that 150 million people in Southeast Asia are digital consumers, 23 million of whom are in Thailand.

More than 35 million of the 150 million are high-value users with strong purchasing power who shop online frequently. These users are aged 26-40 and live in major provinces.

Some 60 million digital consumers fall into a special category, such as beauty addicts, wellness shoppers or online travellers.

Another 55 million are traditional urbanites who do research online but don't shop.

Up to 100 million have made purchases online, with Thailand accounting for 11 million of those.

"The rapid increase in adoption of smartphones and other connected devices, as well as strong 3G wireless broadband coverage, have continued driving consumers toward digital," Mr Lamy said.

In addition, e-commerce websites and application service providers could enhance their in-store experience for online shoppers.

Mr Lamy said the expected value of Southeast Asia's online retail market in 2015 was roughly US$6 billion, of which $1.4 billion stemmed from Thailand, making the country the region's second-largest market after giant Indonesia ($1.7 billion).

But Thailand's online retail market accounted for just 3.8% of overall retail sales, a smaller proportion compared with Singapore (5.5%), China (14%), Western Europe (14%) and Britain (25%).

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