Updated 18th February 2022
As Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy1, Thailand is an attractive market for big and small merchants alike. The country’s recent digital push has also made it a thriving market to pursue an eCommerce business. Total eCommerce revenue in the country was expected to reach $4.5 billion in 20192, up from around $2 billion in 2017.
As an online merchant targeting the Thai eCommerce market, it’s important to consider the best times of the year to win customers. Of course, you should do sales and marketing all year round—but it’s a given that some seasons are better than others for making a sale.
Here are some of the major shopping holidays in Thailand that eCommerce merchants can take part in.
As Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy,1 Thailand is an attractive market for big and small merchants alike.
The country’s recent digital push has also made it a thriving market to pursue an e-commerce business. In 2021, Thailand saw 48 million shoppers online which is a big jump from 28 million shoppers in 2017.
Planning your eCommerce campaigns in Thailand is never easy, so here is a shortlist of the major shopping holidays in Thailand to give you a hand.
With large eCommerce marketplaces like Shopee and Lazada growing their presence in Thailand, it’s no surprise that they’d bring their popular shopping festivals with them. Large local players like Central also coincide their own shopping festivals with these. So far, the following dates are some of the biggest peak shopping periods in Thailand.
9.9 and 10.10 are some of the many sales seasons that were popularised by Shopee and Lazada. 9.9 tends to kick off the fourth quarter online sales season.
Shopee sold more than 45 million items in the first 99 minutes of its “Shopee 9.9 Super Shopping Day”.2 Shopee’s press statement mentioned that beauty products and home appliances along with groceries and beverages were bought during this campaign.
Shopee’s press statement also mentions they had 1.5 million flash sale items during that day, engaged in personalising offers to shoppers and providing interactive experiences to shoppers to keep them engaged with their campaign.3
Lazada’s 9.9 Big Brand Sales recorded “sales growth 34 times in the first hour after the 9.9 massive sales event kicked off after midnight on 9.9.” Popular product categories bought on Lazada included fashion and health and beauty products.4
By this point, 11.11’s origin story is a well-worn legend. In 1993, four guys at Nanjing University got together on November 11 to bemoan and figure out how to deal with the loneliness of singlehood. This eventually morphed into an annual event celebrated by Chinese youths before Alibaba turned it into a highly-anticipated, annual shopping event.
With the expansion of Alibaba-owned Lazada across Southeast Asia, the e-commerce giant has brought Singles’ Day to the region. Mimicking successful tactics in China, Lazada held a gala in Thailand on the eve of the 2018 sale, complete with celebrities counting down to midnight.5
In 2021, Lazada brought onboard Korean presenter SEVENTEEN together with Mario Maurer, Baifern Pinchanok, Bright Wachirawit and Win Methawin as spokespeople. The number of new users at its 11.11 event rose 120 percent compared to 2020. Top products sold on Lazada included Sabina (lingerie), MamyPoko and BabyLove (both Mom & Baby brands).6
Together with offers of up to 90 percent off, Lazada also had discount coupons and codes for discounts up to 1,111 baht along with giving shoppers a bonus 50 baht discount for every 500 baht spent.7
In 2021, Shopee reportedly sold 2 billion items in Southeast Asia for its 11.11 campaign. The event saw Shopee shoppers buying groceries, bath and body care along with home care supplies. Premium brands saw sales surge by around 50 times compared to the week before.8
Shopee also hired Jackie Chan as a spokesperson for its Q4 sales period. Other tactics they used included discount codes up to 1,111 or 1,500 baht, free delivery codes and codes to receive 20% Coins in a cash back scheme.9
Competing platforms have also joined in the 11.11 bandwagon. In 2017, Alibaba rival JD forged a joint venture with Thai retail conglomerate Central Group.10 They launched the JD Central platform and ran an aggressive “11.11 Crazy Hot Sale” campaign the following year.
Shopee’s version of 11.11 is called the ‘Shopee 11.11 Big Sale’, where they received 11 million orders in their 2018 event.11 Shopee also promotes the event through its interactive games for the event such as the ‘Shopee Quiz’ and ‘Shopee Shake’ during this period.
In 2019, Amazon opened its Thai office, eyeing growth in the country. This office is also its second in the Southeast Asian region, with its first one situated in Singapore.
Since then, it’s worked hard to bring its own set of top shopping dates, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Black Friday is the fourth Friday of November with Cyber Monday being the Monday immediately after Black Friday weekend. Similar to 11.11 and 12.12, this event is all about deals, discounts and promotions.
In 2021, Amazon reported that they saw triple-digit growth during that year’s Black Friday. According to Amazon’s press release, more than half of sales from this event were from independent selling partners who are mainly SMEs.12 2021’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday top selling categories were Home, Toys, and Apparel.
Considering how competitive and lucrative all these Q4 shopping events are, it could be prudent to have your store be present on multiple platforms including Amazon.
Inspired by 11.11, Lazada introduced 12.12, which it calls ‘The Online Revolution’ sale, in 2012.
Thailand shoppers usually respond well to 12.12 sales—from December 10 to 12, 2015, Lazada saw a 300 percent increase in orders compared to the same period in the previous year. Electronic goods were the top-selling category.13
In 2021, Lazada recorded THB 1,212 million in sales on the first day of the “Lazada 12.12 Grand Year-End Sale.” The top brands for this date waere Nivea (health and beauty), MamyPoko (mom & baby) and L’Oreal Paris (health and beauty).14
Shopee’s version of 12.12 is called the ‘Shopee Birthday Sale’. Similar to 11.11, Shopee also makes use of its interactive games to keep shoppers engaged with them during the shopping bonanza.15
Shopee saw a 6-time uplift in visits on 1 December with 850 million Shopee vouchers claimed during that event. Top sellers achieved 12 million baht in a single day with the top seller 30 million baht in sales. Popular products sold on Shopee include skincare, laundry supplies and cleaning equipment and Home decoration. Top brands include Unilever (general supplies), La Roche-Posay (health and beauty) and Index Living Mall (home and furniture). Other popular items included bath and body care items.16
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Songkran marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year and is the country’s most famous festival. The locals celebrate it from April 13 to 15 by splashing water on family and friends as a way of wishing them blessings.
Some major marketplaces like Lazada and Shopee also use these as promotion periods such as ‘Splash Sales’ and promoting Songkran-related items like new clothes.17
During this festival, junior members of the family honour their parents and grandparents with small gifts. Locals visit the temples and prepare food for their elders. Keep in mind, though, that those who live in the Southern Region tend to avoid spending money during the festival as part of their religious observance of Songkran.18 While some may be enticed by good deals on this day, Thais generally tend to prefer socialising with family rather than to exchange gifts during cultural festivals.
On the other hand, eCommerce sellers in the travel and tourism space can target both locals and foreigners who prefer to travel within Thailand during Songkran. In 2018, locals alone made 3.1 million trips to major cities and secondary provinces during the festival, while half a million foreigners visited the country.19 Online sellers specialising in local handicrafts and souvenirs can also aim for these consumer groups.
If you’re selling to Thailand, it’s worth noting that their fourth quarter shopping festivities don’t end at 12.12. Christmas and New Year themed shopping events are still around to truly cap off the fourth quarter shopping season.
While large players like Lazada, Shopee and Central tend not to send out press releases regarding Christmas sales, they and their sellers still run Christmas-themed shopping campaigns in Thailand.
You might be able to catch some last minute Christmas shoppers with these campaigns and push more Christmas-themed items that may not have moved too much in the earlier shopping events leading up to Christmas.
Central’s Christmas Shopping Gift Card Banner20
Lazada’s Christmas Surprise Sale Facebook Post21
Sale Here’s Shopee Christmas Items Promotion22
Thailand caps off their Q4 shopping festivities with New Year’s Day. Every year, large players like Shopee and Central continue holding themed discounts to welcome the new year.
For 2022’s New Year celebration, Central ran a campaign from 15th November 2021 to early January 2022 where shoppers can redeem stickers for discounts and get cash coupons and cash backs. Stickers were earned on every THB1,500 spent while coupons were earned based on different spending levels each day.23
Meanwhile, Shopee held its Shopee 1.1 New Year Sale from December 27, 2021 to January 3, 2022. Features included free delivery, up to 50 percent Shopee Coins Cashback, and more. Shopee showed off premium brands including Unilever, Samsung, Hisense, Adidas, P&G, Sony, L’Oreal Paris, Philips and more.24
Children’s Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of January in Thailand, which was supposed to be on 8th January in 2022 and 14th January 2023. In 2022, the usual activities that mark Wan Dek have been postponed.25
Wan Dek is a Children’s Day unique to Thailand. It is a day to recognise that the development of children today impacts the country’s future. Usually on this day, people take their children out to fun events and places such as zoos, museums, and other kid-friendly facilities.26
These facilities usually offer discounts to commemorate the festivities. Family members give kids gifts, too, making it a great opportunity for online sellers to promote toys and children’s clothing.
In Thailand, Lunar New Year is a time for meeting family, making merit and praying for good fortune and wealth. Thailand’s Lunar New Year retail revenue tends to be driven by tourism. In 2020 before the height of COVID-restrictions, overall spending was 8.64 billion baht.27
In 2022, Lunar New Year started on February 1. 2023’s Lunar New Year starts on January 22.
Back in December 2018, Thailand approved a 5 percent VAT refund for purchases of goods during the first 15 days of February 2019. This intentionally coincided with the Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year), which took place on February 5 to 6.28
Buyers paying via their debit cards would receive the refund via their PromptPay accounts. The move was intended not only to boost local spending but also to promote the use of cashless payments in the country.29
Meaningful and auspicious gifts, household items, clothing, food, and travel-related purchases make up the bulk of spending during this season. To reach consumers across different channels, retailers are increasingly using both online and offline approaches. For example, Pomelo has a CNY 2022 collection.30
While online sellers can promote their goods to encourage shopping and gift-giving during Lunar New Year, keep in mind that some items may be considered inauspicious. For example, some consider it bad luck to wear black or white clothing and to buy new shoes during this period.31
Gifts for your better half are a big part of Valentine’s Day, and plenty of eCommerce players have also caught on to this.
Shopee’s Valentine’s Sale Banner32
Lazada’s Valentine’s Sale Banner33
Lazada, Shopee and many other eCommerce players operating in Thailand set up Valentine’s Day campaigns. During this period you can try setting up discounts and themed sales around product categories that are commonly gifted to both genders. Fashion, health and beauty, consumer electronics and luxury accessories like jewellery and watches are good bets.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has held the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale annually for around 20 years now.34 Thailand’s tourism body created the event to position the country as a shopper’s paradise.
The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale usually takes place around the middle of the year. In 2021, it ran from July 15 to September 15. The dates for 2022 have not been announced yet as of the time of this writing (February 2022).
During the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale, shoppers can find discounts on clothes, accessories, sports, electronics, local handicrafts, and even tourist activities. But it isn’t limited to retail. Shoppers also get discounts for food, hotel stays in certain cities, and airfare. Even market stalls join in the sale.35
Although the sale is largely a tourism push, with the government event granting ‘passport privileges’36 to some tourists during this season, online stores can participate, too. The timing of this event could coincide with Thailand’s aims to reopen borders to tourism this year.37
Other sellers choose multichannel approaches—for example, e-commerce site Zalora and retail giant Central Group have merged to offer customers a seamless online-to-offline experience.38 And as previously mentioned, the Thailand Online Mega Sale now takes place in early August, essentially making it part of the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale.
According to the Thai embassy21, Mother’s Day was changed from April 15 to August 12 in 1976 “to commemorate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Mother of all Thai people”.39
People all over Thailand light candles in honour of the queen, and take their moms shopping—be it online or offline. This is potentially a good opportunity for online sellers of cosmetics, clothing, flowers, and sweets to run promotions.
The King’s Birthday in Thailand, honouring the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is celebrated on December 5, which is also Father’s Day.40
During Father’s Day in Thailand, Thai people pay their respects to the late and incumbent kings with fireworks, temple visits, and alms-giving to monks. Although the kings’ birthdays are not major shopping holidays, their supporters wear yellow on this day. Online merchants may thus want to promote yellow clothing prior to the holidays.
To recap, here’s a calendar of all the eCommerce events in Thailand we’ve mentioned so far:
Thailand is often called a shopper’s paradise, attracting buyers with spectacular sales and promotions. eCommerce merchants can join in the fun by running some promos of their own.
If offline stores can offer testers and free tastes, online stores can offer free gifts. You can provide these as a pleasant surprise to random lucky customers, or to buyers who spend a minimum amount or buy selected premium items. Free gifts can also come as a bonus when someone purchases a bundle.
Bundles have become a popular way to reduce prices and attract buyers online.41 Think of a bundle as a package deal or a gift basket. This is one way to introduce new or less popular items to your consumers. At the same time, buyers will get more value for their money because they’ll receive more items at a cheaper price.
Offer limited discount coupons in advance of a sale to spread awareness and encourage buyers’ appetite. You can send these discount coupons through your mailing list or offer them to loyal customers.
You could also offer discounted prices on their product listings throughout the campaign period. Typically, merchants put larger discounts on older items to clear stock and on new products as a ‘new release sale’ to encourage adoption.
Get buyers excited and reward them for their purchases by offering a lucky draw prize. You can select a random buyer on the day of the event. If it’s a month-long shopping holiday, you can select the lucky winner on the last day to encourage people to make purchases and increase their chances of winning.
It can be confusing to choose from the seemingly endless items offered by multiple vendors online. Adventurous shoppers may want to try buying a surprise box instead. For example, you can offer a surprise box of mobile phone accessories. Depending on the price, the box can include a mobile phone case, a selfie stick, a fashionable strap, and a few other items.
The mileage of surprise boxes may vary depending on the popularity of the brand and type of items featured. Similar to the other discount methods, this is an opportunity for you to take your previous season inventory off their shelves or introduce lesser known products to customers. Merchants should ensure that the some of the items they include in the surprise boxes are desirable, on top of being more valuable than the surprise box’s listed price, to encourage repeat customers the next time they release a new set of surprise boxes.
eCommerce may be a new channel in the long history of shopping, but tried-and-true principles still apply. These include knowing your customers, their online shopping habits, and the holidays that matter to them.
Never assume that holiday celebrations in your own country will be the same in another place. Find out what people buy—during the holidays, and help them enjoy the celebration by offering them a sweet deal they can’t resist. But no online shopping experience is complete without deliveries to your customers. Look out for logistics partners with flexible, end-to-end eCommerce delivery solutions to help deliver delight Thai customers today!
Looking to ship to Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia? Contact us below to find out how.
Interested in Thailand’s eCommerce scene? Check out our Breaking into Thailand series:
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