Thai SEO and Internet Marketing

Thailand’s e-commerce industry is growing significantly each year over a very small base, spurred on by the rapidly expanding Thai credit card industry and higher Thai internet usage and penetration, in the wake of increased foreign investment levels in a fast growing Thai economy. This is paving the way for the rapid rise in Thai B2B and B2C spends, as internet retailing and trading are rapidly becoming the accepted way of conducting business with the rest of the world. Thai website translations are becoming increasingly common, as are Thai SEO campaigns.

Quick Summary:

Number of Thai internet users: 8.42 million 

Thai broadband access: 0.2 per 1000 people

Thai mobile phone usage (latest data 2005): 27.4 million

Most popular local Thai search engine: http://www.siamguru.com

Most popular Thai website: http://www.hunsa.com

Credit card penetration in Thailand: 1 out of 4.4 Thai households

Thai e-commerce spend (latest data 1999): US $ 0.303 billion

The recent political turmoil notwithstanding, Thailand boasts of a well-developed infrastructure, a free enterprise economy and pro-investment policies. According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Database dated September 2006,Thailand’s GDP at 2006 current prices stood at US $ 197.6 billion, increasing steadily by 12.4% over 2005 Thailand estimates for the same. In March 2005 estimates, the total number of Thai internet users reached 8.42 million, growing by 266% over 2000 figures, and comprising 13% of the Thai population. The World Bank -ICT database also estimated Thailand’s per capita internet usage at 112 users (per 1000) in 2004, having risen appreciably from 38(per 1000) in 2000.

* ITU (International Telecommunication Union) estimates for December 2003

Thailand’s broadband per capita usage was still low at 0.2(per 1000) in 2004 according to the World Bank ICT database, representing a tremendous future growth opportunity. This database for 2004 also pointed out that Thailand’s personal computer usage stood at 74, while Thailand’s mainline and mobile phone usage stood at 106 and 420 (per 1000) respectively for the same year. In particular, Thailand’s mobile phone usage has grown by a whopping 740% in the 2000-2004 period, driven by increased penetration, with a substantial proportion using more than one mobile phone. CIA’s ‘The World Factbook – Thailand’ database has also estimated that Thailand’s telephone mainline and mobile phone usage stood at 7 million and 27.4 million respectively in 2005. 

The top-5 Thai search engines and websites in 2006 are 

http://www.asia.yahoo.com/thailand

http://www.google.co.th/intl/th

http://webindex.sanook.com 

http://www.hunsa.com

http://www.siamguru.com. 

Growing over a smaller base, the Thai credit card market is rapidly expanding, with an average of 1 out of every 4.4 Thai households currently owning one. This augurs well for future Thai B2C expenditure. According to Bank of Thailand data, at the end of 2003, the number of credit cards issued in Thailand grew by 23% to reach 4.2 million, out of which 81% were Visa cards. A majority of Thais also use ATM or debit cards for their online transactions, and are generally able to manage credit card debts very well, with low delinquency and default rates for the same.

B2B e-commerce investment in Thailand has made rapid strides since the beginning of 2000. Then, Oracle tied up with leading Thai corporates like Berli Jucker and Saha Patthanapubul, to set up Thailand Horizontal Exchange, a B2B e-marketplace. The Charoen Pokphand Group, the country's largest agribusiness conglomerate, had also set up Asia Freewill Co to provide a similar platform for its suppliers and new clients. PointAsia also had entered into a strategic JV with BeX.com Pte Ltd, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia Pte for a horizontal B2B exchange for multi-industry buyers and sellers in Thailand, conveniently linked to other BeXcom trading hubs throughout the world. 

Another type of B2B e-commerce is supply chain management, which connects large corporations and their suppliers. An example of this is Siam Cement, which has implemented an e-commerce system linking 40 factories under its umbrella and 500 suppliers. PointAsia had also established PointAsiaOil.com, a petroleum industry B2B marketplace offering supply chain management, with electronic transaction services for pricing, procurement, invoices and payments. The Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) had also offered its 100 major clients B2B e-commerce to facilitate efficient transactions, in collaboration with PointAsiaOil.com. 

According to Nectec (National Electronics and Computer Technology Center) data, e-commerce spends in Thailand grew from 1.22 billion baht (US $ 0.303 million) in 1999 to 50 billion baht (US $ 1.2 billion) in 2003. Thammasat University has also estimated Thailand's e-commerce to be worth 22 billion baht (US $ 0.55 billion) a year, growing steadily by 4.5 to 5% value per annum over subsequent years. While Thailand’s online retail B2C expenditure per capita was at low levels, in the last three years it has grown exponentially and this represents a tremendous future opportunity. Thus, with the Thai e-commerce business sure to accelerate rapidly over time, the future of cost effective and hassle-free Thai offshore internet retailing looks very promising, boosted by rapid growth in credit card, personal computers and internet usage levels.

Reference Sources/Further Readings:

1. IMF World Economic Outlook Database

2. http://www.internetworldstats.com / International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

3. http://www.cia.gov - The World Factbook

4. World Bank ICT Database

5. Bank of Thailand 2004 data

6. http://www.bangkokpost.com

7. NECTEC (National Electronics and Computer Technology Center)

8. http://www.internetnews.com