In Ho Chi Minh City a wide variety of shoes are on sale in many boutiques at bargain basement prices (around VND30,000-ND55,000/pair of slippers). Most of them have been imported from Thailand via border gates with Cambodia.
A shop owner in HCM City says “Previously, I sold Vietnamese and Chinese footwear, but now I sell Thai products to meet with consumer demand. Thai goods are widely on sale in border areas at low cost, so I decided to select them for my shop.”
The shop owner also reveals border markets sell a wide range of Made-in-Thailand products, including cosmetics, food, washing powder, garment and textiles, and home appliances.
Thai products are less expensive than other goods of the same kind. Traders can earn more profit if they go to the southern province of Kien Giang to Kampot, Kokong and Sihanoukville of Cambodia to purchase Thai products for resale.
Apart from Thai products, Made-in-Japan goods are also most favoured by local consumers. Japanese second-hand T-shirts are flooding the pavements in early morning with an average price of VND35,000/piece.
“Japanese clothes are mostly bought from wholesale markets, so prices are quite low,” says Hoa, a shopkeeper in HCM City’s Binh Thanh District. Japanese products gain local consumer trust thanks to their good quality, she adds.
Many office workers also engage in collecting Thai and Japanese goods to sell online. Thanh, a communication officer in HCM City’s District 1 says she is interested in Thai consumer goods from which she can earn a monthly income of VND4-5 million.
“I spend my weekend online selling Thai products at traditional markets and online webs. Online consumers are keen on such products as glasses, footwear, and clothes,” she shares.
Thai and Japanese goods penetrate into Vietnam not only by pavement shops, traditional markets and online sale, but also by supermarket network – an official channel set up by giant retailers.
Most recently, Japan’s Aeon Mall Group has opened two shopping malls where more than 30% of their products are imported from the Japanese market.
A few days ago, the group signed a strategic cooperation deal to supply Japanese goods for Citimart, which owns nearly 30 supermarkets in Vietnam. The two sides are set to expand the number of supermarkets to 500 by 2025.
As a result, a huge volume of Japanese goods will follow the giant retailer to dominate the Vietnamese market.
With the aim of winning a large market share in Vietnam, Berli Jucker Group (BJC) of Thailand owned by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi earlier this year purchased Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam at a cost of nearly US$880 million.
Charoen is the third richest person in Thailand with assets worth around US$11.3 billion, according to Forbes statistics.
A senior Thai manager recently made his arrival in Vietnam to take over at Metro Vietnam in the hope of completing the deal for 19 Metro supermarkets across the country early next year.
Other large retail venues, such as Parkson and Maximart, and convenient shops (Family Mart and B’s Mart) are also considered a good opportunity for Thai and Japanese goods including electronics, fashion items, and fruit and vegetable.
Recent customs statistics show in the first ten months of this year, China took the lead in exporting products to Vietnam, worth US$35 billion in total. It was followed by the Republic of Korea (US$17 billion), Japan (US$10.3 billion) and Thailand (US$5.8 billion).
Noteworthy, fruit and vegetables from Thailand, and fabric and garment products from Japan are enjoying high export growth in Vietnam.
Thai fruit and vegetables have replaced those from China in terms of official export channel in recent months. In the 10-month period, Vietnam had spent US$138 million on Thai fruit and vegetable, and only US$20 billion on those from China.