BANGKOK: The Thai government is giving its support to an event aimed at boosting online shopping in the country and raising consumer trust levels. 

The Thailand Online Mega Sale will run for a week at the end of November and offer discounts of up to 80% for products and services bought digitally. Upwards of 500 websites are expected to participate, generating sales of more than 500m baht.

Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikuar told the Bangkok Post that this first-ever online discount campaign would promote ecommerce generally, adding that online buyers remained marginal, making up only 10% of 25m internet users in Thailand.

Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, president of the Thai E-Commerce Association said online shopping had been growing at 20% a year but added that "the number of products and businesses made available over the internet remains relatively small".

He explained that trust was a major problem and that consumers lacked confidence in making electronic transactions. But this was an issue being addressed by the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, which planned to monitor online transactions to ensure international standards and safety, as well as establishing an online consumer protection centre.

Research earlier this year by, a leading Thai ecommerce company owned by Rakuten, said that 47.5% of Thais had only recently begun to buy items online, but it expected this trend to grow and that social media would play an increasingly important role as shoppers shared information.

Mobile will also be important, as indicated by the findings of a MasterCard survey of the Asia-Pacific region, reported at the CommunicAsia event in July. This showed that the proportion of interviewees who had made a purchase using their phone was lowest in Australia (18.7%) and New Zealand (18.2%), both lagging well behind Indonesia (54.5%), China (54.1%) and Thailand (51%).

A wider Rakuten Smart Shopping Survey reported that 78% of online shoppers across Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan had been unhappy with their purchases. In Thailand, seller reliability was cited as the main issue in failing to complete online purchases.

Data sourced from Bangkok Post; additional content by Warc staff