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THAILAND: Sanook, eBay launch site

New website enables Thais to expand participation in e-commerce

Bangkok Post
Monday, January 7, 2008

by Sasiwimon Boonruang

Sanook.com has teamed up with eBay to launch a Thai language e-commerce web site, www.shopping.co.th, enabling Thais to trade domestically and to also join the global online marketplace.

eBay Inc vice president Dan Neary explained that even though eBay did not have a physical presence in Thailand, it had a very vibrant community of members here.

During an exclusive interview with Database, he said that eBay today had over 248 million registered users worldwide and that Thai-based sellers represented half a million of these.

The partnership with Sanook.com was very exciting for eBay, he said, noting that eBay brought international expertise, while Sanook had local experience and had developed its existing portal that had many features and functionalities complimentary to what eBay offered.

"We share a vision around e-commerce," he said, noting that the business growth of eBay worldwide was 36 per cent, year on year.

There were many Internet users here, he said, citing IDC figures that say that Thailand had 13.2 million Internet users and 1.2 million broadband users and he added that this represented the potential of Thailand's market. IDC estimates that e-commerce in Thailand is already worth worth a billion US dollars.

If we combined the penetration of the Internet, the penetration and rapid growth of broadband and the existence of strong e-commerce trade plus our own growth, that was the recipe for success to go forward, he said.

Thailand was one of the largest e-commerce markets in Southeast Asia with the highest potential over the long term for eBay, he said, adding that the adoption of eBay here was very strong, particularly among exporters.

Neary pointed out that eBay did not have a local site or a physical presence in Thailand, nor did it have specific knowledge of the Thai marketplace.

However, the partnership with Sanook and the shopping.co.th site created a convenient place for Thai sellers and buyers, allowing them to interact in ways that had not existed before.

It would more seamlessly connect that marketplace with eBay users around the world, he said, noting that when one went to eBay.com in the US, for example, one of those sites linked would be Sanook, which was shopping.co.th. Thus Thai sellers would be accessible to eBay's over 248 million users worldwide.

According to Sanook.com CEO Torboon Puangmaha, the company had learned from eBay's success in trust and security and had adopted some features from eBay, such as member verification, feedback and comment, as well as copyright protection to protect the rights of the brand owners from copying, and in tracking shipping transactions.

Payment options at www.shopping.co.th are Sanook Wallet, money transfer via a bank account or by ATM transfer.

The web site is starting out with an existing customer base of over 50,000 members, transferred from Sanook Auction, while Torboon noted that the company aimed to capture 100,000 members within a year.

Although buying online often faced questions about safety and risks, Neary said he believed that online shopping offered benefits that offline sales did not, such as providing feedback that customers were happy or not, verifying that products were authentic, since counterfeits are not allowed, while in addition buyers could know the status of shipping products.

Using eBay's global network, Thai sellers successfully sold over 4,200 pieces of jewelry an hour on average, thousands of items of clothes, and 170 auto parts. It's an amazing velocity," Neary said.

Citing findings in a survey by AC Neilson that 280,000 people in Asia were primarily living by trading goods over eBay, he said that was important because it presented a significant opportunity for Thailand, both for buyers and sellers.

Many jewelry sellers were located in rural areas and never really had the ability to sell in significant ways, but now they had access to a quarter of a billion worldwide and hence the economic opportunities ranged from rural areas all the way to sophisticated businesses that looked to established export channels, Neary said.

Date Posted: 1/7/2008

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