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Line, Japan's social messaging mobile app, has more than 180 million monthly active users, primarily with a large Thai user
base. Similar to China's WeChat, it has 'subscription accounts' a feature for brands to directly engage with customers and for
celebrities to interact with fans, which is seen as ideal for B2C marketing. In 2014, Line launched a shopping app in Thailand,
followed by an online grocery store a few months ago.
This year, efulfilment is going to be a “blue ocean”** because more companies want to tap into the opportunities created by
the growth of ecommerce. Regardless of whether it’s a large or small online retailer, as they expand they won’t be able to
sustain fulfilment operations themselves. They’ll have to increasingly outsource to efulfilment providers. And, as competition
heats up in this market with aggressive pricecutting, this will soon turn it into a “red ocean”.
SouthEast Asia is a key expansion region for Rakuten (Japan), and so far, Rakuten TARAD.com in Thailand is the one
shining light in terms of sales growth and the number of merchants using the portal. What role will your Thai business
play to support regional expansion?
For Rakuten, SouthEast Asia is really significant. After the first overseas footprint in Taiwan in 2008, we moved on to
Thailand, then Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Although all these markets have become important, we [Rakuten TARAD]
are quite different because of our long company history. We have a huge membership and a lot of data.
One important aspect is that we understand local markets, so we can share our experiences with Rakuten HQ. Our regional
ASEAN HQ is in Singapore. We regularly hold regional HQ meetings, exchanging knowledge and sharing best practices. Our
feedback informs Rakuten HQ’s strategic decisions on how to react appropriately in different markets. We cannot apply the
same principles and technology used in Japan, but have to adapt to local markets and their consumers.
In the next few years, we’re going to do crossborder sales. That means we can sell freely from Thailand to Singapore,
Thailand to Indonesia, or Indonesia to Thailand. We will be a combined marketplace, a global platform. That is a key thing for
ecommerce because you cannot sell locally. Since in Thailand we have such a large membership base, this will be really