How Thai Brands Can Automate & Maintain the Human Touch

Thailand’s vibrant retail industry, long considered the most dynamic in Southeast Asia and a magnet for tourists and locals alike, collectively moved online in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic struck. That journey has been rewarding for the most part: Thai consumers spent an average of US$1,738 on eCommerce last year, handily beating their neighbours including Malaysia at US$484 and Vietnam at US$230.  

But that influx of digital customers, and the need for brands to maintain the personal touch that Thailand is so famous for, will require new levels of marketing automation.  

As the path to purchase becomes increasingly complex in the new omnichannel environment, marketers will need to create personalised and more targeted customer journeys at scale by leveraging on marketing technology, or MarTech. In Thailand, some marketing automation tools that have become indispensable are LINE, Facebook, and Instagram as chat commerce explodes in popularity. Around half of retail purchases in the country now happen over chat commerce, giving brands a new platform to engage with customers and nurture leads.  

Effort Versus Impact

Marketers rely on automation to streamline workflows, reduce manual labour, and measure success so they can focus on higher-value strategic tasks. 

As the amount of online touch points will only expand, marketers need to scale their efforts while becoming more effective across lead generation, segmentation and targeting, lead nurturing and scoring, cross-selling and up-selling, and attribution. Done right, automation should generate more sales leads at a lower cost per lead. 

But it’s also an investment marketers need to be ready to make. Automation will be far more useful for brands that want to achieve a high level of personalisation and engagement while fielding thousands of inbound leads.   

As a start, marketers can run a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the incremental cost of automation will result in the desired return on marketing investment. The analysis should weigh up how much effort the automation will require in terms of people, process, technology, and data, versus the expected impact. A few metrics brands can use to measure impact include lower cost per lead, improved sales productivity, higher revenue growth, and increase in sales-qualified leads.  

Pro-Tips for Thai Brands

With 57% of eCommerce sales done on mobile devices, Thai consumers are mobile-first. An even larger 62% of online shoppers prefer transacting over chat commerce, which reflects the Thai culture of making small talk and getting advice from sales assistants before deciding to buy. 

Conversational commerce tools allow brands to programme workflows for a whole host of services, including announcing promotions and new products, confirming orders, updating delivery status, and getting after-sales feedback. Central Group, one of the largest retailers in Thailand, hopped on the bandwagon using the messaging platform LINE, known locally as the “king of chat commerce”. The Central Chat and Shop service fields more than 1,000 chats from customers daily.  

Apart from LINE and conversational commerce, other popular automation tools among Thai marketers include HubSpot for customer relationship management, Insider for automation on and customer data platform-like capabilities, and CleverTap for mobile app analytics and user engagement.  

Source: Insider

For instance, Insider’s Growth Management Platform can track the category a visitor was browsing recently that didn’t result in a conversion, and target them with a timely reminder or promotion. That’s how Marks & Spencer improved its cart recovery rate to 15%  five times more than the industry average. Web push notifications were automatically sent to consumers who were “window” browsing and had added items into their cart but didn’t follow through on completing the purchase.

Keep Customers Smiling

Whether on chat commerce or other automation tools, brands should not lose sight of the human touch. Content holds equal importance to workflow: marketers need to ask themselves what impression their customers have of them on digital platforms, and if customers are receiving the same type of attentive and friendly service they used to get in person. 

As each prospect passes through different touch points in the path to purchase, marketers will need to find a scalable way to personalise each of those journeys from the first-touch to the point-of-sale. Automation will give brands the most effective and efficient route to serving the right content to the right segment, on the right platform. For brands looking to make their mark in the Land of Smiles, marketing automation will be the key to keeping customers smiling.


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Yih Cheng Yak

Head of Consulting,
Marketing Technology