Like other countries in the region, Thailand is in the midst of rapid digital transformation. According to the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), the country’s digital industry is poised to reach double-digit growth this year, with more consumers taking to ecommerce as a way of life. These findings carry promising news for the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who are increasingly embracing technology to scale alongside the shift in consumer preferences to digital services.
In fact, for most Thai SMEs, digital adoption is a key priority. According to UOB’s ASEAN SME Transformation study, it was found that about three-quarters (71 per cent) of Thailand’s SMEs ranked technology investment as their top priority, the highest among ASEAN countries. In an effort to improve accessibility to the latest innovative technologies for such SMEs, The FinLab launched its Smart Business Transformation Programme (SBTP) in Thailand in 2019.
While digitalisation can pave the way for expanding into new markets and discovering untapped customer segments, establishing a presence in a new country can be nerve-wracking — especially in a region as varied as Southeast Asia. For new businesses, it can be overwhelming to navigate the complexities of another country’s regulatory and business environment, especially when operating alone. However, with the right support, SMEs can make an impact in unfamiliar territory.
Here is how two such Thai SMEs were able to utilise the programme to significantly scale their businesses and unlock new digital efficiencies overseas:
Breaking new ground: Warrix’s expansion in Southeast Asiaanic Network
The official kit sponsor for Thailand’s national football team, sports brand Warrix wanted to expand its offerings and also brand itself as a lifestyle label. While offline sales currently contributed to most of its profits, the company was looking to digitally transform its business and leverage technology to boost sales to tap into a new line of customers who preferred to shop online.
However, incorporating more technology into its system proved to be somewhat of an uphill task. During the early stages of its technical integration process, Warrix experienced system failures. Some of its software synced easily with its existing system, while others turned out to be less compatible. Additionally, the company’s Thai staff and software developers faced issues when communicating with international counterparts due to language barriers.
Through the SBTP, the aspiring sports and lifestyle brand was able to access not only crucial digital know-how, but the right tech solution providers to help them successfully set up an online platform and seamlessly serve customers in the region.
By partnering with Anchanto, an e-commerce enabler that allows users to manage their inventory, logistics and sales across e-commerce platforms, Warrix managed to set up a global website that supports five languages, as well as online stores on Shopee and Lazada. And by partnering with BoostOrder, a B2B2C commerce platform, the company was able to smoothly and efficiently connect its backend systems with its retail partners.
Currently, Warrix is also looking at tapping on additional funding from the Innovation Technology Assistance Programme (ITAP), which the company has been able to access and apply for with the help of The FinLab. Since then, Warrix has been able to generate cash from its ecommerce business with ease, and has enjoyed a reduction in issues related to cash flow. With the funding, it has adopted more tech solutions beneficial to their business.
With the right tech solutions in place, Warrix had its sights on expanding into Malaysia and Singapore, where it was already lending its support to the countries’ national football teams. Unlike Myanmar, where it set up a physical store, Malaysia was to be online-only. In Singapore, Warrix did not set up a physical store. It worked with a dealer to distribute its products instead.
W Wisan, Managing Director of Warrix said, “I wanted to upgrade my knowledge of digital trends, especially the ones on social media such as Facebook, to have better visibility of our customers and make informed business decisions.
I also wanted to connect socially with other experienced entrepreneurs, but realised there was no such network in Thailand. That was until, The FinLab introduced me to a wider social circle through their SBTP, where I could share my experiences and learn from other business leaders.”
Driving digital excellence: Intergoods’ partnership with Zaviago
Thai specialty chemical firm Intergoods, which focuses on projects about energy production, green raw materials, and resource conservation, prides itself on supplying customers with high-quality and sustainable products.
But reaching its customers in an increasingly digitised marketplace required Intergoods to innovate the way it communicated with people and businesses — this meant making itself easily accessible to consumers, who preferred to connect directly with brands via social media.
So, Intergoods decided to adopt social commerce methods that ensured brand visibility online and offline.
Through the SBTP, Intergoods was matched with web development and production studio, Zaviago. Zaviago helps companies create sophisticated websites to facilitate social commerce and other online initiatives.
Together, the team set up a digital storefront to serve Intergoods’ domestic and international customers in industries such as chemical raw materials, smart manufacturing, retail and financial services. With solutions such as Zaviago’s Platform, designed to help organisations digitise securely and build an ecommerce business, Intergoods was able to put together an efficient digital business strategy and revamp its strategic management processes.
First, Zaviago helped Intergoods migrate its sales, marketing and front-end operations systems from an onsite infrastructure platform to a cloud-computing system. This resulted in cost savings and drove greater efficiency. With Zaviago’s cloud computing, data storage and analytics capabilities, Intergoods was able to power its digital management tools and streamline its sales process to serve customers better.
Additionally, Intergoods has also received ITAP funding worth 200,000 baht, to help offset the cost of digitisation and implementation of new systems.
“With Zaviago’s help, we were able to improve our digital capabilities and overhaul our strategic management process. Apart from technical skills, Zaviago also offered us invaluable advice on branding, B2B ecommerce strategies, technology and other aspects of online marketing. Their customised services were accurate and matched what we were looking for in a business transformation program to support both our B2B and B2C customers. ” said Suwaporn Lertviriyasawat, Assistant Managing Director of Intergoods.
As Thai SMEs continue to leverage technology to serve evolving consumer behaviours, such stories are a testament that there are opportunities to grow and transform the business. The FinLab remains committed to help Thai SMEs and entrepreneurs find a suitable tech solution to unlock new digital opportunities and take their business to greater heights in a smarter fashion.
Learn more about the next SBTP here.