The “Wechat Business” that was despised in the circle of friends has become the new “wealth code” in Southeast Asia

Anurak Saruethai is the son of a fisherman in Thailand. Compared with other "fishing two generations", he may be the most special one, because most Thai people know him, and many people have bought dried fish from him. In the circle of selling seafood, he is well-deserved "fishing circle top stream." Anurak has 1.74 million fans on Facebook, all of whom are his customers.

If you have watched his live broadcast, you may feel that his live broadcast is so similar to the style of some of the fast-hand anchors. The same agitating words and expressions, the unpretentious way of displaying products, and even the way of interacting with the staff outside the camera have something in common.

The difference is that Anurak speaks a language you don't understand. And if you want to buy these seafood products that are priced far lower than the market price, you may need to have a specific bank account. Even with the trendy way of social e-commerce live broadcasts, with its own official website and online store, Anurak's payment method still requires customers to send money to the designated account of the Thai Commercial Bank.

▲ The number at the top of the live broadcast room is their bank account number, and users pay for merchandise bills by remittance

For Chinese users who are accustomed to planting grass, purchasing, and payment links, they might want to turn around and run away when they see the payment method or remittance. But for the growing Southeast Asian market, Anurak sells cheap free shipping dried fish to make them willing to send money, watch the product in his live broadcast, and directly chat privately to ask for product details.

In the words of James, a native of Thailand, Anurak’s dried fish is "sale".

Live broadcast + social networking, this is a scene of e-commerce in Southeast Asia

"Live sales" and "social e-commerce", these are two words with Chinese characteristics. Grace, the head of Shiseido's brand that we interviewed, once told us that many business methods in China are not available elsewhere. When she shared with others, as long as she talked about the "private domain management" of social platforms, most non-Chinese managers must first ask "What is private domain management?"

In this area, China is leading the world. Probably no one in the world understands what "uplink" means!

But to be precise, most people in the world cannot understand the meaning of "uplink". Outside of China, many people still know the meaning of the link. Most of these people live in Southeast Asian countries.

Why is live streaming popular in Southeast Asia? Miranda, who started working in e-commerce in Southeast Asia in 2017, believes that this is closely related to the promotion of Chinese capital.

In her impression, Lazada, an overseas e-commerce platform acquired by Alibaba, brought the live broadcast model to Southeast Asia in 2016. This feature called LazLive is one of the earliest live streaming functions that users in Southeast Asia can see. Few e-commerce teams in Thailand understand this new model, and even the teams that initially provided live broadcast services to enterprises are almost all from China.

▲ LazLive will also have Hallyu idols coming live

The orangutan founded by Na Xin is one of the Chinese teams targeting the Southeast Asian market.

In 2016, Na Xin was still worth buying as CEO. At that time, he believed that if China's advanced marketing model can be copied to overseas markets, there will be new opportunities. After that, he left his job and started his own business and began to provide brands in Southeast Asia with more marketing methods besides graphics and text, helping them sell on platforms such as Tiktok and Facebook.

The entry of more and more platforms and teams has made Southeast Asian consumers get used to live broadcasting. During the South East Asian e-commerce platform Shopee Double 12 promotion period, its live broadcast platform Shopee Live even reached 450 million viewers. In addition to e-commerce platforms, social applications often used by Southeast Asian users are also important platforms for live broadcast promotion.

James, a native of Thailand, said that although he is used to picking products on e-commerce platforms, more and more friends around him are starting to plant beauty, clothing, and food products on Facebook, and then complete the purchase.

James feels that this is closely related to the popularity of Facebook’s marketplace function, “because influential people can try it directly to users.” Marketplac is Facebook’s trading “market”, and buyers and sellers are becoming more and more accustomed to trading items on it. Even users who don't have many fans can post, broadcast live, and sell goods by themselves.

The epidemic is an accelerator, a rushing Southeast Asian e-commerce

The world has been affected by the epidemic, and the epidemic is also an important factor for the development of e-commerce in Southeast Asia.

Because of the impact of the epidemic, everyone is isolated at home, so there will be more talents shopping online and watching live broadcasts.

The “Southeast Asia Digital Economy Report 2020” released by Google and Temasek disclosed that the average online time per person in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand exceeds 4 hours a day, ranking the top three, with more than 69% of respondents maintaining an online frequency of more than 5 times a day. It can be said that streaming online entertainment forms such as video and live broadcast are quickly filling the social gap brought about by isolation.

There are more shoppers and more participants in e-commerce. Na Xin, who is currently building PongoShare, a platform for people to bring goods, has discovered a new trend in Southeast Asia-more and more users are beginning to seek new online side businesses.

Because of the epidemic, many people are objectively unemployed, either they cannot work or they can only stay at home. This situation actually gave birth to a lot of people wanting to try some new things on the Internet.

▲ PongoShare, a platform for people to bring goods, built by Na Xin, is a platform to help KOL monetize

Miranda is concerned about the phenomenon that some Southeast Asians have already started to "start a business" through social networks and e-commerce websites. She discovered that some flexible-minded Southeast Asians have learned to "make the difference". These entrepreneurs will buy cheaper goods from China and sell them on the Internet at higher prices.

Their preferred platform is Facebook, because the social network has almost no barriers to use. After discovering that some platforms have low entry barriers, these entrepreneurs do not mind having a dedicated online store. "Now that Shopee has a low entry barrier, they are also willing to enter Shopee."

More and more people have become entrepreneurs of social e-commerce, selling goods for themselves, or becoming KOLs selling goods for brands. Merchants that provide services offline are also providing extended services online in this wave. The first choice is the social network used by both operators and buyers.

Miranda's friends have a favorite niche essential oil brand. This brand has only one store in Chiang Mai, and it cannot be bought in Bangkok. During the epidemic, the customer will search for brand information on Facebook, and the merchant will display the product list on Facebook one-to-one. After the customer selects it, they can transfer money to the merchant’s bank account, and the merchant will send the other party to buy after receiving the money. The product.

For emerging small brands, Facebook has become a place that can directly generate transactions. For brands, entering social platforms is a must. The only difference is whether the brand will set up channels for product purchases on social platforms.

For example, OPPO, a well-known mobile phone brand in China, has an official account of OPPO in Thailand on Facebook and Line, and it also has e-commerce functions. But for a big brand like OPPO, communicating information to users is still more important. What they do on Thai social platforms is largely the same as that of WeChat official accounts, and direct purchases are for them. The priority is not so high.

▲ The official OPPO account will also interact with fans through live broadcast

The instant messaging platform Line with a high market share in Thailand is also one of the important platforms for social e-commerce. The Chief Commercial Officer of Line stated that the epidemic caused global luxury brands such as Chanel and LV, as well as many physical stores in Thailand, to register accounts on Line. More business activities have allowed the official account on the Line to achieve an annual growth rate of 25% in 2020.

In the wave of more and more people, brands, and platforms participating, Southeast Asian social e-commerce has developed extremely fast and has a large number of users.

According to data from Bain Consulting, the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia will be worth US$109 billion in 2020, and social e-commerce will account for approximately 44% .

There is almost no "competition" between e-commerce platforms and social platforms

In China, the relationship between the social platform WeChat and the e-commerce platform Taobao is very delicate. Although Taobao first blocked the Taobao link from WeChat, this quickly became a situation where the two parties did not give in to each other. Taobao can only use various Martian texts to enter WeChat, and WeChat can't directly jump to Taobao.

▲ Taobao blocks WeChat links

But in Southeast Asia, the relationship between social platforms and e-commerce platforms is likely to be much closer.

Shopee told Ai Faner that when sellers need to look for KOLs, their shopee online celebrity marketing service SKS will also personally help sellers find people on social platforms.

The domestic beauty brand O.TWO.O wanted to find KOLs with successful beauty live broadcast cases and multiple high-influential social platform accounts when selling goods. Shopee found a local live KOL in Vietnam for it, and when looking for it, it will also pay attention to whether the other party has the ability to interact with live broadcasts.

This KOL has over 350,000 Facebook fans, over 300,000 Instagram followers, and over 1.7 million TikTok followers, which are important indicators for Shopee to make recommendations.

In addition to helping to find KOLs, the platform will even help sellers to advertise on social platforms. In 2020, Shopee has brought more than 5 times the input-output ratio for sellers on the platform.

▲ A number of local internet celebrities brought goods for O.TWO.O live broadcast​

The social platform may be the source of e-commerce traffic, and it may also be the source of e-commerce merchants. At the beginning, Anurak, who sold dried fish on live broadcast, was invited by Shopee after Facebook became famous.

The interface has introduced Shopee's method of attracting sellers from social networks. They will tell sellers that the convenience of selling on Shopee is much higher than that of Facebook and Instagram, and that user payments and merchant transportation are more convenient. Shopee employees will also appear at regular Facebook seller gatherings to pay for shipping and subsidize discounts in order to recruit more sellers.

Miranda also found that e-commerce platforms are actively looking for new sellers on social media. In her view, Thailand's e-commerce penetration rate is not high, and there is still a lot of room for mature markets. E-commerce platforms can find more sellers and buyers through social network pull new, and it is more important to use social platforms to find new traffic.

At present, they do not have a competitive relationship, and are more of a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit. Because the positioning of social platforms is not to compete with platforms such as Amazon, they still want to capture traffic as much as possible and charge advertising fees by providing services. Social platforms may prefer e-commerce to be active, and merchants and platforms can go to it to advertise.

▲ Shopee Games in-app game matrix Shopee Games also has a reward mechanism that encourages users to share on social media

E-commerce practitioners exploring in Southeast Asia believe that the difference in capital behind platforms is also an important factor in the absence of competition between platforms.

The current mainstream social platforms in Southeast Asia are from the United States and South Korea, and most of the shareholders supporting e-commerce platforms are from China. This is different from the situation where China's Ali and Tencent often "hand in hand". When the two race tracks are different, it is difficult for companies with big differences in their business philosophy to fight fiercely.

▲ 47% of people worldwide spend more time on social media

Today's situation is that e-commerce platforms are adding social content, and social platforms are also adding e-commerce functions.

It's just that Na Xin feels that the development of e-commerce functions of most social platforms is likely to be worse than expected, because of the lack of supply chain support, social platforms are more adapted to the needs of European and American users. During the entrepreneurial process, Na Xin has always been more optimistic about the development of Tiktok's social e-commerce, because they have the experience of China's Douyin store, and the entire team also pays more attention to the monetization ability of e-commerce.

But at present, the various platforms are far from the point of competition, and the parties are attracting more people to get used to online shopping, and the market is getting bigger and bigger.

▲ Tiktok and the Southeast Asian super app Grab also have cooperative service sellers

The Chinese e-commerce model that "runs wildly" in Southeast Asia is slower

China's e-commerce operation model has landed in Southeast Asia, and most of the time it can be successful. However, due to different national conditions, there is still a big gap between Southeast Asian e-commerce and China's e-commerce.

The development of Southeast Asia directly skipped the PC era. At the beginning of mobile shopping, users have become accustomed to different marketing methods such as live broadcasts, short videos, and graphics. This is good news for startups like Na Xin who are seeking new opportunities in content marketing in the Southeast Asian market.

However, in terms of the behavior of social e-commerce, there is still a gap between the current social e-commerce merchants and the "micro business" that Chinese users are accustomed to. They have no distribution system and no service provider with a high degree of scale. In other words, the sales behavior of Southeast Asian sellers on social media is still very fragmented. This is a personal behavior. They are facing a to C market that has not yet been activated.

The purchase model that is currently popular in China has not been popular in Southeast Asia. Although James said that the current e-commerce platform in Thailand is very similar to Pinduoduo, where it is all labeled as "seckill", but in general it is still using a low-cost attractive model. JD.com has done a ShareBuy similar to the purchase model in Southeast Asia, but this model has not been accepted by most users.

In addition to this, there are also differences in live broadcast formats.

Although the development of live broadcasting in Southeast Asia has been affected by China's e-commerce platforms, there are still some gaps in the presentation of the two. Chinese anchors will charge a pit fee for bringing goods, and in addition to the pit fee, they will also charge a commission for the goods. Most of the anchors in Southeast Asia do not carry KPIs, only show fees, and do not need to bear the pressure of the amount of goods.

▲ The FILA brand that is currently shipping on Shopee

As an entrepreneur, Na Xin felt that the pace of life in Southeast Asia would indeed be slower, and this slow pace also affected the presentation of Southeast Asian content. Live streaming in Southeast Asia does not have a sense of oppression like China does, and they rarely give viewers too strong sensory stimulation. The pace of the anchor explaining the product will also be slower, they will introduce the product more gently, everything is not so urgent.

Miranda, who has been in Thailand for 4 years, has a similar feeling-the relaxed social atmosphere of Southeast Asia has given their social e-commerce different development trends. Take entrepreneurship as an example. Chinese people usually imagine a large-scale business when it comes to starting a business, while Thais refer to a small store and a small dining car when it is difficult to start a business. This is their own business in their eyes.

I think the degree of dispersion of social e-commerce in Southeast Asia will definitely be higher than that in China. In China, people are used to looking for top leaders, but for Southeast Asian users, their individuals will be more enthusiastic, cheerful, and less stressful. Individuals are relatively scattered, so the top KOL of the content may not appear very quickly, and everyone is not so striving for the upper reaches.

▲ During the epidemic, more and more people are trying to become anchors

Lazada acquired by Alibaba brought the new method of live broadcasting to Southeast Asia, while Shopee, which is held by Tencent, tried to obtain traffic through social networks like many Chinese e-commerce platforms, allowing the existence of social networks to help platform sellers and buyers better trade. Merchants on social platforms such as Facebook are more like early "micro merchants", selling their own products through social networks and also selling products for people.

However, different social environments and infrastructures also make Southeast Asian social e-commerce companies very different. Starting from payment, their marketing, delivery, and logistics are all following the proven e-commerce model in China and exploring a different path.

Shiqi, Xin Ming, Wuji, and Tom are also helpful to this article.

Not too interesting, not too optimistic.

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