Malaysia: A Vibrant Spot for E-commerce

The large number of entrepreneurs in the country who are selling their wares online is transforming Malaysia into a vibrant spot for ecommerce growth.

“You can’t ignore sales channels like Facebook and Instagram,” says Ganesh Kumar Bangah, Chairman of PIKOM. To grow online, sellers should look at other platforms where they can sell their products,” he advises.

“There is a huge amount of sales that goes through Facebook on a daily basis. In Indonesia for example, the volume of items that is sold on Facebook is more than all the other market places put together. So you can’t ignore Facebook and Instagram as sales channels,” he said.

Ganesh also assured participants that there were a lot pf programmes out there that would help an SME go online.

“There are various channels via government agencies such as Go eCommerce, an active learning platform and hub that acts as a comprehensive guide for all SMEs who are keen to explore and build their businesses via eCommerce,” he said.

Getting an enabling platform that helps SMEs cut through the clutter of various channels to set up their business is a very important agenda under the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap, according to moderator, Datuk Yasmin Mahmood.

Ganesh recalled the old days when businesses would hire marketing teams. “The first thing your marketing team will as you is: ‘how much money do I have to spend?’ That is the old mind-set. The new mind-set is that you don’t hire marketing staff anymore. You actually hire a ‘Head of Growth’ as the person’s job is to help you grow your business,” he said.

Christopher Lajeune, CEO of Lazada Malaysia said that Lazada is making e-commerce easy. “We have multiple tools, we are launching a business advisory service. We are launching a platform which will contain services for accounting, translation and marketing  tools. “But I believe that the most important tool you need to succeed in e-commerce is an entrepreneur’s mind-set. With that, everything is easy,” he said.

Ganesh says there are two ways for any business to go online. “The first is either you or your team train for it, and you can do that with the various platforms, which show you the A to Z on how to get online. “The second is you go to a service provider like Commerce.Asia, which handles all of the elements for you,” he adds.

SMEs were also advised to remove their mental block about going online. Once that block is out of the way, going online would be much easier than going offl ine, Datuk Yasmin said.

Leow Wee Jonn, CEO of Photobook Malaysia, a company that allows users to create their own photobooks, said the growth of the company since its inception 13 years ago has gone through a number of iterations to be where it is today as a company that is worth over US$100 million. “Back in 2005, online payment was problematic as people did not trust online payment solutions. And on top of paying online, we were asking customers to give us their most private photos online. And that was difficult,” he said. He added that having a strong customer experience was critical. If they call us, we have to respond immediately. If we made a mistake, then we have to rectify it immediately,” he said.

Lajeune advised SMEs that when it came to success in the e-commerce market, the most important element to consider were the customers. “You have to think about your customers. It is about how you communicate with your customers, who can rate the seller. “Customers will shop more when they receive good service from the sellers. In turn the rating of the sellers will go up. The customer needs to come first because if they are not happy, then they won’t bother coming back a second time,” he said.

The subject of e-commerce growth was featured in the first panel to kick off the Malaysia Digital Economic Forum 2018. Titled ‘Welcoming Digital Transformation as the New Face of Business in the Digital Ecosystem.’ The panel featured speakers from multiple areas that touched on the e-commerce industry. The Forum reflects the government’s commitment in driving the nation’s digital economic agenda.

Hosted jointly by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, the forum was attended by close to 3,000 participants, including SMEs and logistics players in the digital ecosystem. The forum was also aimed at educating local stakeholders, including SMEs along the value chain, about the importance of digitisation and encourage them to leverage on its opportunities for their businesses.

Other than a panel on the growth of e-commerce, the forum also featured presentations and panel discussions by prominent e-commerce players on a variety of topics. These included the role of digitisation in transforming businesses, MITI’s continuous work with Industry 4.0 and its linkage to the digital agenda, eCommerce 101 for SMEs wishing to export, as well as cashless initiatives. MDEC also hosted a dedicated session to encourage SMEs to list on the DFTZ, as well as participate in the Go-eCommerce online training platform.

Originally published on Malaysia SME

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