Thailand's digitalisation journey (Part 3)

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The FinLab and UOB (Thai) also held focus groups with the SMEs. The overarching theme from the sessions was that SMEs noted the importance of digital marketing and how an effective marketing and engagement strategy can help improve sales and broaden their customer base. They see how the use of online communications media can help to improve sales and broaden their customer base. Some of the key highlights from the focus groups are:

Choosing the right communications channels 

Although all the SMEs agreed on using technology to enhance their communications with customers, they differed in the type of channels to reach their intended audiences. For instance, a café owner and a hotel owner have used numerous online media channels (mainly websites, Facebook, LINE, Instagram and WeChat) to promote their products and services as well as offering customer privileges. These SMEs also found online channels useful in boosting their overall visibility and reputation. “The marketing channel for the hospitality industry has moved online. We can now better reach our target consumer groups more efficiently and discover which kind of interests our target groups have. Currently, we have a reservation system that is adapted to consumer behaviour and are looking to shift the whole reservation process to an online platform. We also see social media as strategic to the marketing plan. In 2019, we also want to implement reservation system with an AI chatbot software that can answer questions Thai people always have when looking at our page, especially on Facebook.” – La Na Wild, a resort operator based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For the businesses operating within more labor-intensive industries such as manufacturing and wholesale trade, it was noted that online communications still played a significant role. In addition to providing detailed descriptions of their products or services via websites, the companies also use social media to interact directly with customers. Still, the adoption of these online channels was to supplement more traditional communications channels such as phone calls. As such, these companies diversified their channels of communications to cater to different customer segments.

“All our products are made-to-order. Within the next two years, we will need to find a better way to reach our customers, regardless of size. LINE and WeChat help to ease the discussion process when communicating a design with our customers. We used to do emails back then, but now mobile phones can do everything faster and easier.” – Easy Pack Product Co Ltd, a Thailand-based packing manufacturer.


Aversion towards digitalisation for operational efficiency

The experience of the SMEs using technology for more labour-intensive, operational processes was not as positive. The business owners agree that technology can make tedious processes more efficient. However, the biggest challenge to digitalise in this area is the lack of familiarity and understanding both they and their staff have when adapting to such solutions. “I’ve been sending myself and my staff to go for training on technology solutions, although not every lesson was really understood or put into use for our business. In practice, I’ve had to start from scratch and am usually unsure of where to head to next. We need a complete package of technology and training, and maybe guidance throughout the implementation process. I’ve gone through different cashier softwares because each of them has their own limitation. So, my employees need to learn a new program every time.” – Coffee Boy Retail Co. Ltd., an F&B SME in Thailand.

Digital tools adopted for more immediate business impact

The key takeaways from both studies were that business owners in Thailand see the benefits of all digital tools for their businesses. However, concerns about costs and how their staff can adapt to the technologies are the key considerations behind which digital tools they will choose to adopt. For investments to be made to digitalise a business’s operations, the resources and technical know-how needed means that more holistic guidance is needed. For SMEs, a good way to approach Thailand 4.0 is to work with partners that can offer all-round support from knowledge to implementation and access to a wide suite of solutions.

Article source: The Finlab

The article is solely produced by The Finlab for informational and reference purpose only. It is not in relation to any financial product or service provided United Overseas Bank (Vietnam) Limited (“UOB Vietnam”) and shall not constitute advice provided by us. UOB Vietnam makes no representation or warranty to the accuracy, completeness, validity or any other aspect of information contained in this video. Under no circumstances shall UOB Vietnam, its branches, subsidiary, affiliates, partner or employees be liable to you for any direct or consequential damages arising out of or in connection with your access or use of the information contained video, or for any decision or action made in reliance on the information contained in the video.


Nguyen Huy Duc, Vice Director

Agreed with the idea of using online media channels to reach out a wide range of target customers. It's really worth to explore.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Nga, Director

Pizza Hut is a good case study of applying digital transformation in their business model.