The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Laos shares its border with Thailand to the west and south-west, Cambodia to the south, Vietnam to the east and Myanmar (Burma) and China to the north-west. Soon after getting independent from French rule in 1953, a civil war broke out between royalists and communists group. The war ended in 1975 with the communist group seized power at the centre. Since then, Laos has been a one-party socialist republic.
It is a mountainous country with three-quarters of the country covered with mountains and rivers. 60% population belongs to ethnic Lao community, and Buddhism is the dominant religion. According to worldometers.com, Laos’ population as in December 2016 is estimated to be 6,969,852, which is 0.9% of the total world population. It’s a country of young people as 40% population is of 14-year and 56% is in the age group 15 to 64. 80% population is expected to be literate.
Its population density is 30 people per sqr km and 40% of the total population live in the urban areas. Due to Laos’ ambitious plans to exploit its hydropower and mines for its economic development, the World Bank refers it as one of the fastest emerging economies in the East Asia and the Pacific region.
A report titled “Regional Economic Integration of Laos into ASEAN, Trade and Entrepreneurship Development” (RELATED) which was commissioned by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) says that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contributed to the average annual 8% growth rate in the recent years in Laos. In 2013, SMEs provided 63% of all jobs in Laos.
The report suggests that the infrastructural framework for 80,000 companies, out of which 97% are SMEs, is not as developed as other ASEAN countries.
Laos is at a very early stage as the country lacks in a lot of necessities to build a startup ecosystem. While youngsters are beaming with innovative ideas and entrepreneurial enthusiasm, the country lacks in accelerators, incubators, angel investors, venture capitalists and regulations that support startup initiatives.
Despite challenges, youngsters are toying up with the idea of launching online companies to address local issues and some of them have achieved significant success too. Some of these startup firms are Foxpress, Hin Sai online, Book Delivery, etc.
Foxpress offers online courier service which, with the help of motorbike drivers, delivers everything starting from personal documents to official files to even food, beverages and birthday gifts to anywhere in the capital city of Vientiane. Book Delivery caters to the reading requirement of the people of Vientiane. Hin Sai online takes online request to deliver construction material such as bricks, sand, cement blocks, stone, soil, etc. With the arrival of startups, venture capitalists and angel investors have started showing their interest in Laos’ entrepreneurial activity.
Top 10 e-commerce and most visit websites in Laos
Cause, the e-commerce market in Laos is set to take off amidst the rapid growth of internet penetration in the region but the country still does not have laws to regulate such activities, experts have noted. This has resulted in Laos losing out on the benefits from the growth of this form of business. The Director General of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s Domestic Department, Mr Bounthien Keosipha, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that no company has so far been registered for e-commerce.
“E-commerce is a new thing in our country and we still have not discussed how to regulate it and ensure that owners are registered for e-commerce operations and pay taxes to the government,” he said. A source in the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication said e-commerce has been growing swiftly not only in Laos but also across the region. In Laos, many products, notably clothes, handbags and cosmetics, are sold through websites, Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups. Like Laos, some other Asean member nations still don’t have a full set of laws to regulate e-commerce activities even though such businesses are growing very rapidly in Southeast Asia.
According to a new report commissioned jointly by the US tech giant Google and Singapore investment firm Temasek, the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia is poised for a boom, and the region’s internet economy is expected to burgeon to more than US$200 billion within a decade. The report focused mainly on six major markets in Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – as well as smaller ones such as Cambodia and Laos. With a population of more than 600 million people, Southeast Asia is expected to have around 260 million internet users.
Google and Temasek estimated that around 3.8 million new users will come online each month in Southeast Asia, making it the world’s fastest growing internet region between 2015 and 2020. The growing internet market is linked to the fact that Southeast Asia has a young population, with 70 percent of its people under the age of 40. A rising middle class, greater availability of banking systems and the lack of traditional retail store access also contribute to the growth of the internet market.
In Laos, the improvement of logistics and payment infrastructure has contributed to the growth of e-commerce, as many young people have started buying products online. Critics say authorities need to raise the issue of e-commerce at a meeting to discuss how to regulate it properly so that it serves as a new source of revenues for the government. The Law on Consumer Protection has been enacted in Laos but it does not cover e-commerce businesses, so Laos requires a specific law on this issue, experts said.
Launched in 2015 as one of the first online delivery websites, mydelivery.la became an instant success. The online platform currently boasts over 200 popular restaurants in Vientiane Capital. The idea behind the site was to bring food delivery service online, making it more efficient and affordable for the end-user and raking in higher sales for restaurants. The site is owned and operated by Kiwi Company.
Taobao () is what many in America have equated to the “eBay of China”. In many ways this is true: independent users can post products and sell them through Taobao’s infrastructure.
In reality, Taobao is so much more. Taobao has evolved to become the largest ecommerce platform in China (and the World). Taobao has various streams for purchasing:
Official Store Accounts
TMall () – Place for larger brands and stores.
“Busy Fish” () – Place for secondhand items.
Taobao is owned by Alibaba, China’s ecommerce giant, founded by Jack Ma in 1999.
While Laos is in the midst of a Lao-language digital content boom, driven by private ventures such as LaoPost, Mahason, Tholakhong, Una Studio, Kidork, Muan and other content providers, Lao readers consume news and entertainment content from our neighbors in Thailand, especially from kapook.com. The general understanding is that if the news is popular in Thailand, Lao people are sure to find out about it.
Pantip.com is a popular Thai-language website and discussion forum. As of July 2016, Pantip.com was one of the top 10 websites in Thailand and 712 worldwide. Its not surprise since Laos and Thailand are close. Pantip.com seeks to evolve from being an online discussion forum to a source of specialised knowledge after being in business for more than two decades.
Yula.la is the easiest way to buy and sell stuff in Laos. Yula.la is the first online clasifieds service in Laos made in Lao and for Lao People to facilitate their everyday life. Southeast Asia’s Digital Classifieds Group (DCG) has announced the acquisition of leading Laos-based general classifieds site Yula.la, which specialises in real estate, automotive, electronics and general product listings.
The site was founded December 2012 by French national Christophe Eyquem and his Laotian wife Kimthong Luangvilay, and has grown to become a trusted brand for online shoppers in Laos. DCG acquired a majority stake in Yula.la in March 2017, however; it’s founders are to remain minor shareholders of the portal and will continue to contribute their market knowledge and technical expertise to the business. Mathew Care, CEO and Director of the DCG Group, says the company is thrilled with the acquisition.
“Laos offers an extremely exciting new market for us – with fast growing internet penetration rates, consistently high GDP per capita growth and strategically located alongside Cambodia, another market in which we have risen to become a strong player in the online classifieds sphere,” Care explained.
“We are extremely pleased to have formed a partnership with Christophe and Kimthong moving forward into a new phase of growth for Yula.la. As with all our ventures in all of our markets, we clearly understand the strategic advantage of working closely with local partners.” The content director of DCG’s market leading portal in Cambodia – James Whitehead – will direct Yula.la operations in Laos.
You may not have heard of Sanook, but by internet standards, the company is a grizzled veteran in Thailand, founded by Poramate Minsiri way back in 1998. Over the years it has expanded to offer a number of services and products, including e-commerce, games, news content, advertising, and mobile applications. Today, it is the largest web portal in Thailand.
The company’s e-commerce arm includes Dealfish, a C2C e-commerce marketplace and Sabuy, and B2B2C e-commerce site. This division is led by managing director Tiwa York. The internet portal section and other divisions like mobile, games, and advertising are led by Krittee Manoleehagul, the managing director at Sanook Online Limited. Today Sanook.com boasts a whopping 18.5 million monthly unique visitors generating over 500 million pageviews each month. It has its own editorial team but also syndicates content via other web sources as well.
Tmall is an online marketplace created specifically for Chinese consumers. It is operated in China by Alibaba. But if you’re thinking that it’s just the Chinese version of Amazon, you’re mistaken. The shopping experience in China is much different than it is in the U.S. And so Tmall has some features and characteristics that reflect that.
“It’s basically a virtual shopping mall,” said Amee Chande, managing director of global strategy and operations for Alibaba Group during a presentation at Gateway ‘17. One unique feature, Chande said, is that brands are able to create a more customizable experience for their customers within their own storefronts
Additionally, Tmall is a marketplace only for trusted brands and products in demand with Chinese consumers. There’s another online marketplace called Taobao where anyone can sign up for an account and sell basically any type of product. But to sell on Tmall, you have to be accepted as a trusted brand or wholesaler. Again Laos potential market has been reach by neighbor countries, like China and Thailand.
If you’re not familiar with AliExpress, here’s a quick primer: it’s a huge online retailer owned by The Alibaba Group, a multi-billion dollar corporation that started as a business-to-business buying and selling portal. It has since expanded to business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer, cloud computing, and payment services, as well.
There are 3 main reasons why AliExpress and many other products from China are so cheap.
Buying from Manufacturers
On AliExpress you are buying directly from the manufacturers and cutting out the middle man, which drives the price down.
China Post is subsidized by the government, that explains why sellers are able to sell an iPhone case for $1,09 incl. shipping to the U.S. By subsidizing shipping cost, China protects its competition in the world market while keeping massive scale.
China is inflating their own currency to keep the a competitive edge against any other export nations. We sure you hoped for a simpler answer, but all these are contributing factors in having such a low price on AliExpress or any other Chinese shipping site.
It’s no longer accurate or fair to simply say “Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter”. Technically, weibo is the Chinese translation of “micro-blog”. So let’s first look at the term “blog”.
“Blog” is translated as boke 博客. Here, bo is “broad” and ke can be interpreted as “someone engaged in a particular pursuit”. So, someone who writes a blog is “a person engaged in a broad range of pursuits” — you can write about anything in your own personal blog. This is an example of a Chinese word that both approximates the sound of the original English term but also adds an extra level of meaning, making it easier to be understood and accepted by a Chinese audience.
When it comes to “micro-blog”, we take the Chinese term for “micro” — wei 微, and add it to the short form for “blog” — bo 博. The result is an ingenious translation for “micro-blog” — weibo 微博, both “micro” and “broad” at the same time — the universe in under 140 characters. Obviously, Twitter is the world’s most famous micro-blog, but that doesn’t mean that all micro-blogs are simply Twitter rip-offs. “Weibo” is the term generally used to describe all micro-blogs in China, a market in which no one player has the almost total domination that Twitter has in the West.
With over 126 million daily active users, Weibo is an important social media platform for companies seeking to engage consumers and advertise their products. Marketing campaigns on Weibo are critical for brands seeking to build interest and hype from consumers, and expand their Weibo follower base.