ETDA Releases Findings on Internet Behaviors E-Commerce Value, Shows Thailands Solid Potential to Become ASEANs E-Commerce Leader

Information Technology Press Releases Tuesday October 10, 2017 09:01
Bangkok--10 Oct--Korn Creative Agency

The Electronic Transactions Development Agency (Public Organization), or ETDA, under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, releases findings from the 2017 survey on Internet behaviors and the survey on the value of Thai e-commerce in 2016. Also, ETDA announces the estimated value of Thailand's e-commerce industry for 2017 as product/services sales on online channels have continued to grow paving way for Thailand to shine as ASEAN's e-commerce leader.

Dr. Pansak Siriratchatapong, Assistant Minister of the Digital Economy and Society, says, "Thailand 4.0 is an important policy of the General Prayut Chan-o-cha-led government, which seeks to drive Thai economy and society ahead with the help of innovations and digital technology. The policy aims to strengthen grass-root economy and also to boost Thailand's competitiveness at the international level. This concept has already been incorporated the country's 20-year national strategy (2017 – 2036), the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2017 – 2021), and the Digital Development Plan for Economy and Society. All three of them are crucial in restructuring Thailand towards the revolutionary Thailand 4.0 goal".

"The government has issued the policy requiring all government agencies to keep pace with the world as digital technologies have now influenced people of all genders and ages. The government has pushed for digital development and promotion via various activities in the hopes that Thai people can access and benefit from digital technologies, the catalyst for the country's shift into Thailand 4.0 era. To bring the country into the world's 4th round of economic revolutions, the government will reduce gaps in the Thai society and create opportunities for people nationwide. Digital innovations will be created to adjust the country's economic foundation and efficient integration into the world to achieve greater efficiency for Thailand in all aspects. To establish Thailand as a leader in the Digital Transformation Age, people will have to lead development efforts and leverage digital tools and technologies for the better changes," he continues.

"There have been constant efforts by the government to bring digital technologies to all sectors of Thailand. It is clear many digital-infrastructure development projects have been materializing. The Net Pracharat, for example, will install high-speed Internet infrastructure for all 74,965 villages in Thailand in 2018. Thanks to this project, e-commerce will definitely expand fast at community level creating opportunities for community products to sell to consumers not just across Thailand but also the world. Such opportunities are key factors in reducing income and social gap among people living in town and rural zones," he adds.

"The surveys on Internet behaviors and e-commerce value by ETDA are extremely important to government and private organizations. They need statistics from the surveys in formulating their policies, strategic management, planning, and operations at organizational and national levels. These organizations need to keep pace with the changing market landscape. Their efficiency will support Thailand's e-commerce development and competitiveness, enabling Thailand to compete efficiently at not just regional but also international levels on a sustainable basis," Dr. Pansak says.

Regarding the 2017 survey on Internet behaviors, ETDA executive director Surangkana Wayuparb says, "We conducted this survey among 25,101 people between June and July 2017 to gather the respondents' basic information, Internet behaviors, online shopping, as well as problems they have come across from such shopping experiences. The survey also identifies factors that keep some Internet users away from e-commerce. Consumers' response to online shopping problems are also gathered so that relevant organizations in both the government and private sectors can draw up guidelines to deliver proper help to consumers in a more efficient manner".

The survey reveals Gen Y members are online for the longest period of time each day, spending 7.12 hours on the Internet each workday on average. During their holidays, their Internet time rises to 7.36 hours a day. Gen X and Gen Z people, meanwhile, spend 5.48 hours online each workday on average. But while Gen Z members spend up to 7.12 hours online each day during their holidays, Gen X people are online just 5.18 hours. Baby Boomers spend the least time on the Internet, the survey shows. Their online time is at 4.54 hours a day on weekdays and 4.12 hours a day on weekends.

Of those polled, 61.1 per cent say they spend more time on the Internet this year when compared with last year – up by about 3.06 hours a day. Some 30.8 per cent others, meanwhile, say their Internet time has not changed from a year earlier. Only 8.1 per cent of the respondents say their online time has dropped by about 2.24 hours a day from the previous year. Home is the most common place for Thais' Internet browsing, with 85.6 per cent of respondents saying that they go online at home. Coming next is a workplace, with 52.4 per cent browsing Internet at their office. Some 24 per cent of respondents, up from 14 per cent last year, say they use Internet during commuting. Fewer people have used Internet at educational institutes though, down from 19.7 per cent last year to 17.5 per cent this year. The 2017 survey shows the five most popular activities during Internet time are: using social media (86.9 per cent), searching for information (86.5 per cent), handling emails (70.5 per cent), watching TV/listening to music (60.7 per cent), and online shopping (50.8 per cent).

Surangkana underlines that, "It should be noted that for the first time ever, online shopping becomes one of the five most popular activities during Internet time. This reflects that Thais are opening up more to e-commerce". The survey also detects the growing digital lifestyle trends among Thais. Nowadays, Thais have increasingly turned away from offline channels to online platforms for their lifestyle activities such as ticket reservations/purchases, hotel bookings, music listening, movie watching, and document deliveries.The most popular social-media platforms among Thais are:   YouTube (97.1 per cent), Facebook (96.6 per cent), Line (95.8 per cent), Instagram (56 per cent), Pantip (54.7 per cent), Twitter (27.6 per cent) and WhatsApp (12.1 per cent). The most common problems among Thai Internet users are: unwanted ads (66.6 per cent); low Internet speed or connectivity delay (63.1 per cent); and frequent Internet disconnecting (43.7 per cent). Asked what are the biggest problems for their Internet usage, 39.6 per cent say they do know where to get help when running into online problems. Some 34.2 per cent others complain about spam mails.

Surangkana says on Thais' online shopping behaviors, 55.9 per cent of respondents say they browse into e-commerce websites because of online ads. About 54.9 per cent say they do so because they come across product reviews and comments by product users. Discounts and promotions also prove effective in terms of marketing, as they prompt 47.5 per cent of respondents to look for products/services on websites. As many as 41.9 per cent of those polled reveal they go to the e-commerce websites via search engines. The survey, so far, finds that 40.7 per cent of respondents have never bought products or used any service online. Some 38.4 per cent others, however, say they have got products/services via online channels about once a month. Up to 17.7 per cent others say they buy online two to five times a month. Of all respondents, 3.2 per cent say they make more than five online purchases each month.

Main factors behind Thais' decision to shun online shopping are fear of being duped (51.1 per cent), inability to touch or test products first (39.9 per cent), not finding the right products (33.9 per cent), and preference to physically go shopping (31.1 per cent). On what motivate Thais to shop online, easy-to-buy process is the big answer (85 per cent). Also holding sway are convenient & fast product delivery (53.4 per cent), tempting promotions (51.4 per cent), and cheaper price than what physical outlets offer (49.7 per cent).

The most sellable items on online platforms are: clothes and accessories (44 per cent), IT products (26.5 per cent), household appliances (19.5 per cent), food (18.7 per cent), and tourism-related services (17.9 per cent). On the frequency of online shopping/service usage in a three -month period, financial and investment services are the most used among Thais. On average, Thais use online platforms for such services 4.8 times every three months. Coming second are downloads, with Thais turning to download services four times in three months on average. About 2.5 purchases have been made each for entertainment products and tourism-related services over the same period. Tied in the next spots are fashion products/and online food orders, receiving 2.4 purchases each.

The survey shows Thais' online purchases for most product/service categories are no more than Bt1,000 each time. The only exception is financial services/investments, which see a transaction of more than Bt10,000 most of the times. The most common payment method for online transactions is credit card (35.1 per cent). Next are bank apps (31.9 per cent), ATMs (27.1 per cent) and transfers via banks' websites (22.6 per cent). Offline payment methods still prove popular among Thais. Of those polled, 69.1 per cent say offline payments are convenient and give them greater peace of mind. As many as 51.4 per cent of respondents say they do not have confidence in the security of online payment platforms. Up to 27.1 per cent find online payments complicated. Some 22.9 per cent shun online payments out of concerns that they will not have evidence of payments. Of those asked, 11.8 per cent admit they do not know how to pay online. Some 5.1 per cent others say they do not know which products/services accept online payments.

On problems from online shopping, 52 per cent say the quality of products is inferior than what appears in advertisements. About 43.8 per cent mention delivery delays. Other common problems are: products delivered are different from what are shown on websites (29.5 per cent); products delivered are damaged (21.3 per cent); products have never been delivered after payments (11.9 per cent); products delivered are fewer in number than what have been ordered (9.1 per cent) and refunds are not given after product return (4.6 per cent). When coming across problems, 86.8 per cent lodge complaints with government agencies. About 59.8 per cent also complain to websites selling products/services. Some 24 per cent go to police, while 19.4 per cent raise the issues via social media. Some consumers have never lodged complaints about their online-shopping problems, though. Of those who do not file a complaint, 56.7 per cent say their damages are not significant and 55.8 per cent say they do not want to waste time. Up to 36.2 per cent say they do not complain because they do not know where to turn to. Some 32.7 per cent, meanwhile, say they do not know how to complain.

ETDA also releases findings on the survey on Thailand's e-commerce value in 2016 and estimates the e-commerce industry's value in 2017. This survey covers 592,996 e-commerce entrepreneurs that have conducted B2B (business-to-business), B2C (business-to-consumers), and B2G (business-to-government) transactions. Their e-commerce businesses are also categorized based on their industry type namely manufacturing; retail and wholesale; accommodation service; information and communication; transportation; arts, entertainment and leisure; other services; and insurance.

Surangkaka discloses that, "In 2016, Thailand's e-commerce was worth Bt 2,560,103.36million. The B2B businesses accounted for 60.24 per cent of the amount, with transactions of Bt1,542,167.50million. The B2C businesses accounted for 27.47 per cent, with transactions of Bt703,331.91 million. The B2G, meanwhile, accounted for 12.29 per cent, with transactions of Bt314,603.95million".

When compared with 2015, the B2B group in Thailand's e-commerce industry grew by 15.53 per cent in 2016 while the B2C group expanded by 37.91 per cent. The B2G group's growth rate, so far, shrank by 21.42 per cent because the government had discontinued the use of e-Auctions. The Comptroller General's Department, under the Ministry of Finance, had compiled B2G e-commerce statistics in 2016 based on e-Market and e-Bidding systems only.

When categorized by industry, the ranking of industries by the size of their e-commerce value in 2016 is the same as in 2015. Retail and wholesale businesses were the biggest e-commerce industry, with the e-commerce value of Bt713,690.11 million in 2016 (31.78 per cent). Coming second was accommodation-service providers, with the e-commerce value of Bt607,904.89million (27.07 per cent). Coming third was the manufacturing industry, with the e-commerce value of Bt428,084.73million (19.06 per cent). Coming fourth was information and communication industry, with the e-commerce value of Bt384,407.71 million (17.12 per cent). Coming fifth was transportation industry, with the e-commerce value of Bt83,929.05million (3.74 per cent). Coming sixth was the arts, entertainment and leisure industry with the e-commerce value of Bt15,463.46million (0.69 per cent). In the seventh spot was the providers of other services, having the e-commerce value of Bt9,622.77million (0.43 per cent). In the eighth place was insurance industry, with the e-commerce value of Bt2,396.69million (0.11 per cent).

It is forecast that Thailand's e-commerce will be worth about Bt2,812,592.03million in 2017, or growing by 9.86 per cent from last year. The B2B players are expected to achieve the e-transactions of Bt1,675,182.23million (59.56 per cent), up by 8.63 per cent. The B2C entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are predicted to generate the e-commerce value of Bt812,612.68million (28.89 per cent) this year, up by 15.54 per cent. The forecast suggests that the B2G e-commerce value will reach Bt324,797.12 million (11.55 per cent) in 2017, up by 3.24 per cent.

By estimated e-commerce value, the ranking of industries in terms of e-commerce performance will be the same in 2017 as in 2016. Retail and wholesale businesses look set to be the biggest e-commerce players with the estimated e-commerce transactions of Bt869,618.40million (34.96 per cent). Coming second is the accommodation-service providers with the estimated e-commerce value of Bt658,131.15 million (26.45 per cent). Coming third is the manufacturing industry with the estimated e-commerce value of Bt417,207.07million (16.77 per cent). Coming fourth is information and communications with the estimated e-commerce value of Bt 404,208.00million (16.25per cent). Coming fifth is transportation service providers, with the estimated e-commerce value of Bt104,904.28million (4.22 per cent). Coming sixth is the arts, entertainment and leisure businesses with the estimated e-commerce value of Bt19,716.04 million (0.79 per cent). In the seventh spot is the providers of other services with the estimated e-commerce value of Bt11,280.33million (0.45 per cent). In the eight place is the insurance industry with the estimated e-commerce value of Bt2,729.65 million (0.11 per cent).

Surangkana says e-commerce value has been growing in almost every industry in Thailand mainly because of four main factors. Firstly, the government has promoted e-commerce businesses with support for grass-root entrepreneurs including farmers and local business operators. While the government has constantly developed existing entrepreneurs for extra competitiveness, it has also encouraged more businesses to step into e-commerce.

Secondly, more entrepreneurs have added online distribution channels to their businesses. The growing popularity of online platforms have encouraged entrepreneurs to develop e-commerce channels to boost their business opportunities and expand customer base both in Thailand and beyond. At present, there are a variety of online channels for entrepreneurs to use in easily and efficiently reaching out to their target groups too.

Thirdly, Thailand has solid e-commerce potential and bright prospect for significant growth. This is clear given that Internet usage has been growing significantly in Thailand. The 2017 survey on Thais' internet behaviors reveal people spend more time online, when compared with the 2016 survey. In addition, the latest survey reveals online shopping has been growing to a point that it becomes the fifth most popular activity in Thais' online time. It should be noted that Thai consumers have now recognized the many advantages of e-commerce. Among them are convenience, time saving, and the hassle-free life that requires no need to physically travel to a shop. With online channels, buyers can conveniently shop for what they want anytime too.

Fourthly, foreign investors' investments in Thailand's e-commerce have increased. Hailed from China, South Korean, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, many foreigners have invested in Thailand's e-Marketplace, e-Logistics, and e-Payment systems in Thailand. Their investments spur the e-commerce industry. Just as competition intensifies, Thai operators are keener to improve their competitiveness. Consumers' confidence in e-commerce, as a result, has risen.

"All these four factors, government policies on digital economy, and government projects related to Internet and digital innovations have been driving Thailand's e-commerce growth. Today, e-commerce is recognized as an important driver for Thai economy and society. Not only that e-commerce can strengthen grass-root economy by giving every community the opportunity to sell their quality local products for extra income at the household and community level, but it also enhances Thailand's competitiveness at a global level," Surangkana concludes.

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