The Nation

Google launches scheme to get SMEs online

Google yesterday launched a nationwide initiative called "Thai Business, Go Online" to help 50,000 Thai businesses go online over the next 12 months.

The initiative, launched for the first time in Southeast Asia, is in partnership with the Office of SME Promotion (OSMEP), the Thai eCommerce Association, Dot Arai and Web Biz.Julian Persaud, managing director of Google Southeast Asia, said the programme offered Thai businesses a free website that is quick, easy and available together with a sustainable nationwide support network.Having a website is as important to a business today as having a phone, Google says. Eight out of 10 Thai customers search online for information about products, services and local businesses before they buy. Yet according to a recent survey by the National Office of Statistics and OSMEP, only one in 10 Thai businesses is visible to them because it has a website."Google has always believed in the power of the Internet to help small businesses thrive and in making people's lives easier by making information more accessible and useful," Persaud said."Together with our partners, we recognised the challenge facing small businesses by not being online - and we want to help bring down the barriers so that Thai businesses can go online and grow." Persaud said many Thai businesses were not yet online because they did not think their products were suitable to sell over the Internet. They also do not think their customers are ready to buy on the Net and they see going online as too costly, too complicated or both."Today only 10 per cent of Thai businesses have a website, yet our research shows that 80 per cent of Thais go to the Internet first to find products, services and local business information before they buy. Our goal is to get 50,000 Thai businesses online in one year, and we're going to do everything we can to achieve and exceed our goal," Persaud said.Sahas Treetipbut, president of Thai eCommerce Association, said there were more than 2 milฌlion small and mediumsized enterprises in Thailand."About Bt400 billion worth of sales transactions are made annually by small and mediumsize businesses via the Internet, which is about 39 per cent of overall online transactions in Thailand," he said.Sahas said most online activiฌties conducted by SMEs were business to consumer.He added that in the United States, about 40 per cent of online transactions were orders or delivery of products to individual customers, while in many countries in Asia, such as Asean members, China and India, the figure was 5 per cent.Sahas said the bestselling products online were garments, handicrafts, leather products, cosmetics and beauty products as well as travel packages. Yuthasak Supasorn, directorgeneral of OSMEP, explained: "We are committed to helping small and mediumsized businesses in Thailand develop and become more competitive internationally through public and private sector partnerships. "Our research tells us that while Thai SMEs see going online as an opportunity to promote products and services and better communicate with customers, 60 per cent say they need a much simpler way of getting online and a sustainable support model to help them realise the value of the Internet in their everyday activities."

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