Retail in Asia

In Shops

The key factor driving Thailand’s e-commerce boom

Ceramic pottery

Would you buy something from someone you don’t know? In Thailand, it’s the norm.

Thailand is home to the highest number of online shoppers in Southeast Asia, according to a global survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in April.

More than 51% of online shoppers in Thailand said they made purchases via social media, compared to India at 32%, Malaysia at 31%, and China at 27%.

Driving this trend is Thailand’s culture of trust, whereby buyers place orders to sellers they barely know who are selling items in an informal, unregulated market in cyberspace.

In many cases, these small-time sellers market their wares on social-media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LINE, selling everything from clothes, health and beauty products, handbags and electronic gadgets to fresh food and cooked dishes.

Such business-to-consumer purchases, often in the range of 500 baht ($14) to 1,500 baht per order, accounted for 474.6 million baht of Thailand’s 2.11 trillion baht of e-commerce sales in 2015, according to official estimates. B2C (business-to-consumer) sales in 2014 came to 411 million baht, out of 2.03 trillion baht in total e-commerce sales.

The “personal touch” that shopping via social media offers has been highlighted as a reason behind this environment of trust, which the larger e-commerce companies selling products via websites are unable to muster.