BANGKOK: E-commerce is growing quickly in Thailand but only makes up about 1% of total purchases and marketers need a strategic approach to be successful, according to a local expert.

Despite the pace of growth for online retail in Thailand, the country remains very cash-oriented with low credit card penetration, according to Nick Annetts, Managing Director of Wunderman Thailand.

But cash on delivery could be the way forward for online retailers. Like consumers in many other South East Asian markets, Thais feel more comfortable handling over cash in person. (Read more on how marketers can find success with e-commerce in Thailand here: E-Commerce in Thailand: Challenges and opportunities.)

“Thais can still do all their standard browsing, choosing and basket filling, but it’s then that the experience differs,” Annetts explained in an article first published in Thailand 2020: Principles for Marketing Success. “The guy on the motorbike turns up, finds his customer, does the transaction and is away.”

Read more articles from Thailand 2020: Principles for Marketing Success – a series edited by Craig Griffin, Chief Research Officer, FUEL Research & Consulting, and Dave McCaughan, Storyteller @ Bibliosexual and Chief Strategy Officer at

“These ‘last mile’ delivery operations are obviously manpower intensive,” he said, “but in a market where labour is one of the lowest line cost items, it helps paper over the cracks of an un-integrated ecosystem.” 

Annetts recommended that while e-commerce is tough for a brand going it alone, partnering with an e-commerce portal could offer a solution. As a brand owner, there are several things to consider, as the e-tailer has complete control over several key touch-points and experiences with the end customer.

“It’s a good idea to respect the established permission-based marketing rules adhered to in more developed territories,” he suggested. “Without this actual sales data, ongoing analysis, and more importantly, re-marketing to known existing customers is greatly hindered.”

Search optimization and incentives can also drive more sales in Thailand. “Offer extra incentives to consumers when your brand is purchased,” Annetts advised.

“Consider using the e-tailers’ existing loyalty points, if they already have a program. Get your products/brands prioritised in the search function of the site; this can be adjusted within most systems.

“Think of it like an in-shop Google: if you are not in the first few lines of a crowded category, then you are nowhere.”

Sourced from WARC