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 support restaurants, Norasit said. The company also has video-on-demand products.
(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty)