Internet emerges as convenient conduit for second hand goods
Bangkok, October 22:
Computer programmer Anupap Sae-aeung was once a frequent bargain hunter at Bangkok’s sprawling Chatuchak weekend market, where he scouted for second-hand clothing and electronic gadgets.
Now the 29-year-old looks for deals by spending his days scouring popular Thai websites where everything from underwear to pets and aircraft are available at bargain prices. “It’s the kind of marketplace where you can find anything, like Chat-uchak, but more convenient,” Anupap said. “I can buy computer parts, hand-made jewellery, fashionable watches, and pets at prices that sometimes are half the cost of brand-new ones.”
Anupap, who described himself as a second-hand maniac, is among the one million Thais, who visit thaisecondhand.com and tarad.com, which translates as ‘market’. International auction sites like eBay haven’t arrived in Thailand yet, and the online classified site Craig’s List runs only in English. But with 800,000 products for sale on thaisecondhand.com on any given day, transactions on the Thai websites are worth $2.7 million a month. “They use our services because it is more convenient and less time-consuming than wandering in Chatuchak or other Bangkok shops,” said Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, founder and managing director of Tarad Dot Com Co, which operates both websites. “And of course, it’s a bargain because prices are a lot cheaper than brand-new products,” he said. Pawoot, who studied architecture at university, started the site with an initial investment of less than $60 in 1999, targeting computer users with high-tech gadgetry.
His business has boomed as the Internet has grown to reach more Thais. Even now, only 10 million of the country’s 64 million people are Internet users.
The number of individuals and shop owners who sell items on the websites has tripled to 60,000 over the last four years, Pawoot said. In February he also launched an auction site, and he has a unit that processes payments to the website through credit cards, mobile phones, and convenience store check-out counters. “A substantial number of people want second-hand goods. We are providing various products in a single place,” he said. Pawoot said the best selling items are used cars, mobile phones, computers, houses and designer handbags. “For sellers, they can access millions of potential customers at one time through the Internet,” he said.
For some sellers, selling online has turned into a full-time job. Thitirat ‘Ounging’ Kunapholtawin, 28, earns up to $1,300 a month by selling hand-made jewellery and her owned used handbags through Tarad.com. Thitirat, who started out as a buyer on the site, now lists over 2,000 pieces of jewelry and fashion at her online ‘Ounging’ shop, which is part of tarad.com. “I normally buy expensive handbags myself and get bored with them easily. Sometimes I don’t even use them. So, I post them on the website and buy new ones,” said a Bangkok housewife.