7-Eleven Thailand is going big on digital. Source: Shutterstock

7-Eleven Thailand is going big on digital. Source: Shutterstock

Let’s take a look at how Thailand’s top retailers are going digital

THAILAND is an interesting market. It’s got about 69 million people, a GDP of US$497.5 billion that grows at about 4.1 percent year on year.

As a result, the country’s retail market is booming. In fact, retail sales in the country reeled in US$113.5 billion and internet sales totaled US$2.3 billion. Retail, given its size, grew just 3.1 percent, but internet sales grew rapidly at 17.6 percent year on year.

The top domestic retailers in the country are Central Group and CP AII PCL. Revenues for the Central Group — which owns FamilyMart Thailand and Central Plaza, among other brands — tallied at US$12.2 billion in 2018, whereas for CP AII PCL, which owns 7-Eleven Thailand and Siam Marko, brought in US$16.21 billion in revenues.

Obviously, competing in a market that is increasingly going mobile and looking for convenience isn’t easy.

Both the Thai retail giants have made significant strides to improve their offering to customers — leveraging digital to really deliver services and solutions that wow customers.

In many ways, they’re good examples for other retail businesses in the region looking for inspiration on new and interesting technology to turbocharge their operations and customer services divisions.

Technology can really make a difference shows 7-Eleven

7-Eleven Thailand has recently announced the launch of advanced AI-powered facial recognition analysis to turbocharge stores, make them safer, and provide a more pleasing experience.

Across the 11,000 7-Eleven stores n Thailand, the company has used technology from a US/China-based firm to combine data intelligence and AI-based facial recognition and behavior analysis technologies.

It is the job of the new system to measure customers’ in-store movements and their emotions, check stock levels on shelves, and provide real-time operation performance and competitor analysis as well as monitor employees and identify unauthorized personnel on site.

Just the mention of facial recognition might scare some organizations, but the reality is, it’s not intended to invade anyone’s privacy. Instead, the focus is on making stores safer — which is key given the crime rate in some parts of the country.

And although that sounds like a massive technology deployment, there’s actually a lot more that the company is experimenting with in order to make sure it continues to grow its customer base and keeps them coming back.

The company, for example, recently started a a new courier service in collaboration with delivery company Dynamic Logistics — the new service is called 24/7 Speed-D express delivery and offers next-day delivery services for parcels and letters dropped off at participating 7-Eleven stores.

Also, given the popularity of the LINE messaging app in Thailand (LINE is to Thailand what WeChat is to China),  7-Eleven stores in Bangkok are trialing food and coffee delivery on the messaging platform with a view to providing a new shopping experience for customers.

FamilyMart pushes on with technology — and goes cashless

Local convenience store chain and competitor to 7-Eleven, FamilyMart Thailand also offers an express delivery service in Bangkok that provides 24/7 express delivery service allowing customers in the capital city to send their parcels to any locations across the nation.

And although that takes a significantly agile (and arguably digital) infrastructure to operate, the reality is FamilyMart is actually playing the long-game, driving cashless payments in the country.

The company teamed up with Bangkok Smartcard System to launch a payment system that can be used at FamilyMart branches — but it also offers support for some of the most popular mobile wallets in the country such as PromptPay and TrueMoney.

In fact, according to Fung Business Intelligence, considering that more and more people in Thailand using online payments and electronic wallets, the country’s four largest banks have all dropped digital transaction fees since April last year so as to retain retail customers.

FamilyMart is capitalizing on that trend by offering customers a seamless, digital, and cashless experience.

Overall, although each retailer is competing in the increasingly digital Thai marketplace in its own way, they’re all rapidly digitizing their operations and trailblazing into the digital era.