E-commerce pioneer outlines key trends

Economy February 20, 2014 00:00


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THE STRONG growth of m-commerce and online payments is among the key trends of e-commerce this year, Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, founder and managing director of Rakuten Tarad.com, said yesterday.

As a pioneer of e-commerce, who has seen the industry evolve over the years, Pawoot looks for strong growth in m-commerce. Smartphones accounted for half of all mobile phones sold last year and the momentum will continue into this year, when mobile phones will be the main device that people use to access the Internet. 
Rakuten recorded an increase of 158 per cent in m-commerce sales as people became more familiar with using their mobile device to shop online, in addition to their regular habits of checking the news and social media.
Mobile chat and social media will help merchants boost sales. People love to chat online and mobile chat applications such as Line are hugely popular, reaching almost 20 million users last year. 
In December, Rakuten set up a Line account to speak directly to customers and share special event updates and merchant product promotions. After only three months, the account has over six million fans and has plans to help merchants reach even more customers. 
The e-commerce market is getting more competitive as international and local players race to establish e-commerce platforms here. Businesses have to work harder to up their game and provide better service. 
Rakuten would launch a platform this year that would make buying and selling online even easier, benefitting both merchants and consumers.
The online marketplace is growing rapidly, as more merchants with physical stores realise that they can save costs and reach their key customers more easily online. The e-commerce landscape has also seen growth in specialty stores, especially for mothers and babies, pets, kitchens and the gay community.
Buying digital software, applications, e-books and online services will rise in popularity this year. People are already used to buying digital products, but they are mostly produced overseas. This presents a good opportunity for Thais to create digital products or contents and sell locally through e-commerce. 
There are many advantages to selling digital products. Merchants can reduce delivery costs and inventory, respond quickly to customer requests and access customers around the world more easily. 
Online marketing helps merchants serve their customers better and identify the right tools to approach their target audience. 
It also helps to reduce marketing budgets and boost sales.
Some advance online marketing techniques include marketing via re-targeting, which focuses on approaching customers through every channel consumer’s visit in order to persuade them to buy. Another example is targeted marketing, which sets target customers of specific products in a bid to increase sales.
Convenience is essential for consumers
More are choosing to pay via their debit or credit card, whether online or through mobile. Nowadays, better security means people are more comfortable making payments online, and they also enjoy the ease and speed of completing their transactions. 
More payment channels also offer greater choices to consumers, with payments available via the banking system or other avenues like ThaiEpay.com or Paysbuy.com, giving people even more reasons to choose e-commerce.
Managing a growing business can be difficult, especially if sales are booming. If you are dealing with 50-100 orders per day, managing and delivering the products as well as communicating with your customers in a timely manner can be challenging. 
Rakuten plans to make available a fulfilment system that helps merchants pack, arrange and send their products to their customers with ease. All that merchants have to do is provide their orders and fulfilment will support the rest of the process.
Conversion is another trend
The most important metric for merchants is conversion (CVR), which shows the rate of site visitors becoming buyers. 
As an example, your shop can have 10,000 visitors per day but it means nothing if no one is buying your product. The CVR number becomes an important business tool for merchants to keep an eye on. CVR is calculated by diving total orders by visitor numbers, giving merchants a CVR percentage.