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Rallies increase business for e-commerce operators, malls offering online delivery

Operators of e-commerce and shopping malls with online delivery service have seen their business grow during the anti-government demonstrations, and particularly during the current "Bangkok shutdown" campaign.

Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, founder and managing director of Rakuten TARAD.com and president of the Thai E-Commerce Association, said the company's e-commerce sales had increased 71 per cent since the protests began nearly three months ago.

The rallies are one of the key factors driving sales growth, the other being rising business during the "greeting season", which runs from October to the end of the year.

"The main driver for e-commerce since the turn of the year has been that many consumers are not confident about going out shopping. They have turned to online shopping instead, a trend that is boosted by the fact that there are a lot more product items available online," said Pawoot.

Consumer demand remains high, as key intersections in Bangkok remain closed to traffic, he said. This has resulted in use of the Rakuten TARAD.com website increasing by 15 per cent and sales growing by 28 per cent in recent weeks, aided by promotional campaigns and the company's mobile-friendly site.

Meanwhile, Salinla Seehaphan, corporate affairs director of Tesco Lotus, said that during the past week, all of the company's stores had continued to open as usual.

"With a business continuity plan in place, we have made deliveries to stores near the rally sites by adjusting our delivery time and have increased stocks of essential products such as drinking water, canned food and rice. During this time, we have kept our prices low, as usual.

"There has been no sign of customers hoarding. We have around 10 stores located near the rally sites. Overall, when considering the whole week, there has been no significant impact on our sales volume," she said.

The executive said sales via Tesco Lotus Online Shopping had been growing since the service was launched last April. Customers enjoy the online shopping service as they can choose from over 20,000 product lines.

These include fresh items such as meat and vegetables, which are not available through other retailers' online services. Moreover, customers can choose a convenient delivery date and time from six time slots a day.

"During the past week, we did not see a significant change in the online sales pattern, and believe the growth trend will continue in the coming months," she said.

Chirawat Sitarachiyanon, who purchases his daily goods online from Tesco Lotus, said he had turned to the retail giant's online channel because it was not convenient to go out shopping in the current circumstances.

"It is very comfortable shopping [online]. There are plenty of products for me to choose from and we do not waste time on the road getting to a store. Importantly, Tesco Lotus offers a cash-on-delivery service, so I don't need to pay before getting the products," he said.

He added that the core benefit of B2C (business-to-consumer) e-commerce was the convenience for consumers to search for products they want to buy, as well as the price and feature comparisons. This will encourage more people to shop online, in his view.

"We do not need to go out, drive and find a parking space, if e-commerce makes it is easy to shop and pay," said Chirawat.

Supalurk Tangcharoensiri, owner of The Phoenix Hotel Bangkok, a transit hotel, said that during the anti-government rally, its online bookings had risen by about 20 per cent from normal due to more tourists deciding to travel on to other countries rather than stay in Thailand.

The hotel uses the online channel as its main channel for marketing and reservations. This involves Facebook Fanpage, Trip Advisor, Google advertising and an online agency.

Its occupancy rate is currently between 60 and 70 per cent.

"During this time, we have had online bookings that are 20 per cent above normal. Most of our customers are foreigners, largely westerners and Chinese. We are a transit hotel, and our sales have increased since many tourists have decided to travel to other countries instead," said Supalurk.

The Phoenix Hotel Bangkok is located on Lat Krabang Road, a 10-minute drive from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Its main online channel is www.phoenixhotelbangkok.com www.phoenixhotelbangkok.com.

Big C steps up the pace

Recently, Big C Supercentre is accelerating its online business by launching an e-commerce "pure player" for Asean, in partnership with France's Cdiscount and Group Casino Vietnam.

The company said the websites to be launched in Thailand and Vietnam under the Cdiscount brand would benefit from Cdiscount's expertise in the e-commerce business developed over the last 10 years, as well as from the know-how of market-leader banners in both Thailand and Vietnam, building on a large assortment of products at the best price; a comprehensive store network allowing a multi-channel strategy; and a marketing tailored to local specificities.

The launch of the websites is expected within the coming weeks in both countries.

The activities will enrich Big C's multi-channel strategy and complement its existing website Big C Shopping Online, allowing the company to increase its footprint in markets where e-commerce initiates its growth.


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