By Chayut Setboonsarng
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Luxury fashion and auto brands in Thailand have turned to selling their products on Japanese chat app Line amid the coronavirus pandemic, tapping the country’s growing appetite for social commerce, a top executive said on Thursday.
Brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Volvo were among those that opened official accounts on the messaging app, which outranks Facebook’s WhatsApp and Rakuten’s Viber in Thailand, aiming to connect with users during a coronavirus lockdown.
“The luxury category was forced to adapt because their stores were closed,” Line Thailand chief commercial officer, Norasit Sitivechvichit, told Reuters.
Thailand earlier this year imposed a nationwide curfew and closed malls for nearly two months to contain infections.
“During the pandemic, sellers became very active,” Norasit said, adding that others sold cosmetics and fast-moving consumer goods.
Line, which charges sellers for sending messages and live streaming, said its monthly active users in Thailand grew from 44 million to 47 million this year, its second largest market after Japan.
Volvo successfully sold cars on the platform after launching in May and studying customer data, its Thailand head of marketing and digitalization, Jean-David Harel, said.
“We have an understanding of which models they own today, which interest they have and when they plan to change their existing car,” he said.
Social commerce is widely popular in Thailand, where merchants sell directly to customers through social media like Line and Facebook’s Instagram.
Line last year introduced a feature for merchants to organise inventory and online store fronts, which now has over 50,000 users.
Another tool to support sellers with customer relationship and data management is slated to launch next year.
E-commerce platform, JD Central would also launch services for sellers.
Line will soon introduce “MyRestaurant” with its food delivery app, Line Man Wongai, to
Despite dabbling in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology for some years now, Volvo is just building its fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge SUV. The Swedish car maker has announced that production has begun on its first all-battery offering.
“Today is a momentous occasion for Volvo Cars and for all employees here in Ghent,” said Javier Varela, head of global industrial operations and quality, in an October 1 press release. “As we continue to electrify our line-up, the Ghent plant is a real trailblazer for our global manufacturing network.”
To accommodate the new production line, Volvo had to reduce its output of pre-production cars at its Ghent plant. It also had its staff undergo extensive electric car building training to ensure safe production, optimized workflow, and quality manufacture.
Volvo’s first fully-electric vehicle builds on the stellar safety standards of the original XC40. However, due to the absence of an internal combustion engine (ICE), the engineers had to rebuild the frontal structure from the ground up, complete with added reinforcing and stabilizing beams to ensure the EV still meets the brand’s high safety requirements. This was made possible by the use of the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), an advanced vehicle platform co-developed within the Geely Group.
Aside from frontal reinforcements, the rear has also been galvanized to better distribute collision forces and direct these away from the cabin.
To keep occupants safe while ensuring the battery is well-protected from a collision, Volvo developed a unique safety structure that includes an aluminum safety cage embedded in the middle of the car’s body structure. This cage creates a crumple zone for the battery to keep it intact in case the unfortunate happens.
The all-wheel drive XC40 Recharge delivers an estimated 400kms of zero-emission travel on a single charge,