Duopoly warning for Thai e-commerce market after JD Central pulls out

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The founder of Tarad.com has urged the competition regulator to investigate whether Thailand’s e-commerce market will become a duopoly when JD Central bows out in March, leaving Lazada and Shopee to dominate the scene.

JD Central announced on Monday (Jan 30) it will stop operating in Thailand from March 3, though customer deals will be honoured until March 31.

Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, who founded e-commerce website Tarad.com in 2001, said on Monday that the Trade Competition Commission of Thailand (TCCT) must guard against unfair market conditions that damage consumer interests.

A duopoly in e-commerce would likely have a more severe effect on sellers and customers than retail channels, he said.

“Having only two major players will limit the choices for sellers and customers, while platform operators can pressure sellers into following their policy.”

Lazada raised the fee for sellers on its platform only last year, Pawoot pointed out.

Shopee and Lazada are Thailand’s top two online shopping platforms, dominating the market with an average of 63.1 and 50.3 million visitors per month, respectively. JD Central ranks 8th with around 2 million visitors per month.

JD Central was launched in 2018 by Thailand’s Central Group and Chinese e-commerce operator JD.com. A source said that Central, which had invested 17.5 billion in the platform, has decided to pull out.

Fierce competition between giant players in Thailand’s e-commerce market also saw Japan’s Rakuten and South Korea’s 11Street withdraw in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

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