Thailand e-commerce landscape: key trends and data points (update 2020)

Given that we are going through a global pandemic, before we talk about e-commerce, I think it is important to understand the overall Thailand economy and how it is doing.

1. Thailand real GDP is projected to contract about 7.7% in 2020

This is the latest forecast in Jun 2020 by International Monetary Fund (IMF). This forecast is much worse than the Apr forecast of negative 1%, due to COVID 19 impact.

Thailand and other emerging markets GDP growth rate (IMF June 2020 forecast)
Thailand and other emerging markets GDP growth rate (IMF June 2020 forecast)

We can see from the data that Thailand’s economy is expected to do much worse than the other ASEAN – 5 countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

Obviously, this figure may change depending on the COVID 19 situation and how it may further impact global trade and tourism. As of this writing, the total number of COVID 19 cases in Thailand appears to be stable.

total-cases-covid-19 in Thailand

2. Thailand GDP per capita, using purchasing power parity, is high in comparison to other Asia countries in 2019

Thailand GDP per capita, purchasing power parity (current $) 2019
Data from the World Bank 2019

3. Thailand has a healthy retail market in comparison to other emerging markets

Total estimated retail sales in 2020 (US $B) in Thailand and other countries

While the absolute value of the total retail market in Thailand is comparable to Indonesia and higher than Vietnam, Thailand’s population is only about 70M vs 264M for Indonesia, 97M for Vietnam.

In the next few years, Thailand’s retail sales growth rate is expected to be lower than India, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, and many other countries.

Retail sales growth rates (%) in Thailand and other Asian countries 2020 - 2022

4. E-commerce penetration is still small in Thailand, in comparison to other countries

5. E-commerce is expected to grow by more than 3 times over the next 5 years in Thailand

While impressive, Thailand’s e-commerce growth rate is lower than in many other ASEAN countries.

E-commerce sales 2015 - 2025 in Thailand and other ASEAN countries ($B)

6. Not only e-commerce, online travel, ride-hailing, and online media are all expected to grow healthily over the next 5 years in Thailand

The overall internet economy growth rate in Thailand is smaller than Indonesia and Vietnam

7. Users in the Metro area (greater Bangkok area) spend more than 3.6 times on average than those in Beyond Metro area

Metro and beyond metro spending per capita in Thailand and other south east Asia countries 2019

8. In Thailand and other South East Asia countries, Increased user engagement strongly correlates with monetization through orders

9. “Always on” e-commerce promotion is here to stay in Thailand and other SEA countries

From the same Bain & Company, Temasek and Google report, “In Southeast Asia, there is much more: online shopping festivals have multiplied, from 9.9 (9 September) and Singles Day (11 November) to 12.12 (12 December), while sales are “always on”.

10. Lazada and Shopee are the two dominant e-commerce platforms in Thailand

11. As expected, online shopping for grocery increased during COVID 19. The habit is expected to stay even after COVID 19 in Thailand

change in grocery shopping in thailand during and after covid 19
Data from McKinsey: Thailand consumer sentiment survey 2020


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