For over ten years, THUMBINTHAI has been manufacturing and distributing quality clothing in Thailand, ranging from T-shirts, hoodies, sweaters, and children’s wear. Founded in Bangkok, the company has built up a pool of regular customers who make repeated orders. These are based both inside and outside Thailand.
Expanding internationally can seem like a big step to take, but with e-commerce now the norm, is something all businesses, regardless of size, will have to face. Nitcharee Ujjin, Co-founder of THUMBINTHAI shares her company’s journey into international markets, and how they worked with Payoneer to deal with the practicalities of being paid by overseas clients. Nagesh Devata, Senior Vice President APAC Region, Payoneer, also weighs in on how SMEs are taking to digital commerce, and how technology can help ease their development.
As Devata observes, online marketplaces and platforms have become a crucial part of a consumer’s life, allowing businesses to reach a wider audience and offer consumers more choices. “Many SMBs have set up their own online stores, either through their own websites or through third-party marketplaces such as Ebay and Etsy.”
“These platforms offer SMBs a cost-effective way to reach a wider audience, while also providing consumers with a convenient way to shop,” he continues. “The growth of the marketplaces and platforms is expected to continue even as the pandemic subsides”.
Yet leveraging these opportunities also presents unique challenges for payments providers, such as managing fraud and ensuring compliance with regulations. “Payments providers will need to adapt to these changes and continue to innovate in order to remain competitive in this rapidly evolving market,” he continues.
Ujjin concurs. “Expanding our business footprint means we will inevitably deal with multiple currencies as our products are shipped all over the world to different clients.” The high fees tied to conducting multiple transactions and conversions were a concern for his company, as well as difficulties in working with client support teams that understand Thai payments systems.
“I was having some problems when using other payment methods in the past,” she continues. “For example, a customer had made payment, but the payment was not found in my bank account. After 7 days, the transaction was rejected and the money went back to the customer. Neither the customer nor myself could do anything to fix the issue.”
These are more than just a cashflow issue. “Slow payment transactions will affect the start of production and delivery, which will lead to a decrease in orders,” she explains.
Ultimately, as more and more SMEs adopt digital commerce solutions, there is a greater need for seamless and secure payments on both the business and consumer end.
Making it work, together
Recognising the need to simplify their transaction method, THUMBINTHAI began its search for a suitable payments partner. Introduced to Payoneer by their delivery partner, they have established a productive and effective relationship.
In particular, Ujjin appreciates how the speed and transparency of the payments process benefits both his business and his customers. “When transactions are done on time, we have room to finish the production process on time too,” she shares.
Additionally, the presence of Payoneer’s support team means that THUMBINTHAI can “focus on the big picture – expanding the business globally.”
Devata notes that these benefits are increasingly available to companies of all sizes, allowing even SMEs to enter international markets. “Payments technology can help companies, especially SMBs, expand and serve wider networks by providing secure, reliable, and flexible payment solutions,” he says.
“With payments technology, businesses can accept a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, mobile payments, and e-wallets, making it easier for customers to make purchases. This can increase sales and revenue, while also improving the customer experience.”
Weathering global events, and heading into the future
The effort that THUMBINTHAI placed in expanding globally helped them weather the impact of the pandemic, which severely affected businesses worldwide. “Covid-19 was difficult on domestic sales, which meant that we have to look for new markets through export channels,” recalls Ujjin. “We focused on exporting through Alibaba for example, allowing us to receive orders from overseas customers easily.” Payments technology helped facilitate this, bringing a wide range of payment options that could be quickly verified.
Today, as countries start to ease off their pandemic restrictions, THUMBINTHAI continues to look towards other shores. “Our products are not just articles of clothing, we think of them as representatives of the “Made in Thailand” brand – and we aim for this label to be associated with good quality products,” says Ujjin.
“Our expansion plans will continue not just around the region, but in Europe and the US as well,“ she adds, noting that small businesses owners should leverage partners who can take care of their operations in order for them to focus on improving what they do.
With regards to payments providers, Devata recommends that the payments provider selected to partner with the SMB on their journey to go global should have deep expertise in whichever market the SMB intends to operate in. “This is crucial as every country has its own payments rules and regulations to adhere to,” he says. “The overall reputation in the industry also provides an indication of their quality of service and level of support.
“One more point would be the level of complexity when opening accounts with the provider – in the digital economy, it is essential to have a partner that can operate in a flexible, fast and efficient manner.”