Derek Ng Kien Fai, Head of Marketplace at Vettons, a platform that bills itself as ‘an integrated new retail ecosystem’, believes that user behaviour has been changed a lot compared to before the pandemic.
“Pre-COVID-19, Malaysians’ biggest pastime was shopping – going to the malls, a lot of touch-and-feel, and a lot of impulse buying. But during the lockdown (March – May), their buying habits changed; from buying from brick-and-mortar stores, they were forced to try out buying online. There was a 200% surge in buying online during the 1st month of MCO – essential products like face masks, and people were even hoarding toilet paper, although not as badly as other countries.”
He said this during the Reboot. by uBC Webinar from the unifi Business Club (uBC) livestreamed over Facebook today (July 23).
Moderated by Malaysian media personality Daphne Iking, the Webinar also featured Dato’ Arulchelvam Arulampalam, Executive Director of KryptoPOS and Azmi Abdullah, Head of SME Segment at unifi.
Ng further stated that brick-and-mortar stores have been badly hit by the Movement Control Order (MCO) and other similar lockdowns instituted worldwide by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with department stores being the most affected. “Their revenues have experienced a dip of 60% year-on-year as compared to the same timeframe in 2019. The fashion industry has also been badly hit, with revenues experiencing -30% growth.”
Ng noted that more and more people have become familiar and comfortable with purchasing products online, as they had no choice. While good for online retailers, many SMEs are still brick-and-mortar stores. Many of them are trying to pivot and establish themselves in and service the online marketplace, and even prior to COVID-19, Vettons had been planning to enable SMEs to merge their offline and online markets together.
The founders of Vettons wanted to address two major issues in online purchasing; namely, ensuring the authenticity of products purchased and the uncertainty in delivery times, Ng explained.
“We work with our partner brands and authorised dealers to ensure that all products listed on the Vettons platform are genuine. We have 3 different kinds of delivery services; one is called Vettons Now, our SLA for that is 6 hours delivery. We’ve done delivery from 45 minutes to 2 hours before, but we’re keeping our SLA at 6 hours. The other one is next-day delivery, and normal delivery for Vettons is 3 – 5 days.”
For SMEs who decide to use the Vettons platform, Ng notes that certain products may already exist on the Vettons catalogue, which SMEs can use to populate their own store pages while setting their own prices and quantities available. “Once there are any sales from your store, we will send somebody to pick up the stock from your shop and send it to your respective buyers. That’s how we’re trying to help the SMEs right now; we know many are short-handed and are running a one-man show or a two-man show.”
According to Ng, the Vettons mobile app was designed with a simple user interface in mind, so that everybody would be able to use it.
“We launched the app on July 7th, and to date we have about tens of thousands users right now, and it’s still growing strongly on a daily basis, so it’s pretty positive for us,” he added.
Vettons aims to bridge the gap between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar offline operations. “We want to help SMEs build their online sales operations without needing the necessary know-how. For instance, if you wanted to create your own listings, you require image-editing skills, and you need to create product information skills to create SEO- (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing)-friendly listings.”
uBC members will have their 1st year’s commission fees waived by Vettons, Ng highlighted. “You will only need to pay the 2% transaction fees charged by the payment gateway.”
Post-event, Ng said that Vettons’ mission is “to enable an e-commerce ecosystem whereby digital technologies are humanised for the benefit of consumers and merchants. Hence, we need to continuously ensure high levels of customer satisfaction, which is why it is critical to employ the latest technologies and humanise them for greater speed and agility.”
“Vettons is a fully Malaysian company, and we are on a mission to support local initiatives while providing gainful employment for Malaysians,” he concluded, adding that the company today has close to 200 employees.