PIKOM (the National Tech Association of Malaysia), today expressed its belief and confidence that e-commerce is the future of the retail industry globally as well as locally.
“Given the tremendous potential in e-commerce to support the nation’s economic growth, local brands will stand to benefit if they have a comprehensive e-commerce plan as part of the retail strategy. We need to support the capabilities and digitalisation of local brands,” said PIKOM chairman Danny Lee in a statement.
“The major e-commerce players in Malaysia are foreign-owned; that is why quite a number of the products you buy from them are being shipped from overseas. This is also why we believe it is imperative that our local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) build a strong brand presence through online channels,” said Lee.
PIKOM feels this is where the government can play a major role in helping our local SMEs to increase their online presence. This would include online marketing, brand building, product positioning, pricing strategy and omni-channel rollout. “With the support from the government, SMEs can fulfil their aspirations to penetrate regional markets,” he emphasised.
“In the popular e-marketplaces, undoubtedly the bulk of products listed are those that are shipped from overseas. That’s because quite a number of local SMEs are not as well versed with the right marketing mix for their product, as compared to their overseas competitors.”
Digital marketing, performance marketing, inventory planning, multi-webstore management and customer care services are available through e-commerce enablers in the country. Many of the more established enablers can provide the whole suite of services as a non-stop solution. SMEs would be able to tap on the available expertise to help them find the best fit for them.
Lee used ‘live commerce’ as an example of a new online avenue that could be used by local SMEs. Live commerce uses influencers to conduct live video streaming, while providing online shoppers the ability to interact with sellers and the ability to purchase their desired products instantly.
“Currently, local SMEs may not have the necessary expertise, so we need to have initiatives to support it. With the right support, SMEs can reap the benefits of e-commerce as proven by some local brands have seen their sales grow by 10 to 20 times within a year after partnering with local e-commerce enablers,” said Lee.
One such initiative is the implementation of the SME and Micro SME e-Commerce Campaign and Shop Malaysia Online campaign, involving RM300 million of funding under the Permai Assistance Package.
“While this is a promising start, due care must be undertaken to ensure that the majority of funding should be channelled to SMEs, and not foreign giants that should be able to fund their own initiatives,” stressed Lee.
As such, Lee stated that the issue was not e-commerce, but rather the emphasis to help local SMEs sell online.
To help develop the local e-commerce merchants, at PIKOM’s end, the association has been organising the #MYCYBERSALE, an annual national initiative in collaboration with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) which has been successful for six years running., The number of merchants coming on board has grown from 283 to 1,510 over the six-year period.
“#MYCYBERSALE has been very successful in catalysing the growth of the national e-commerce industry contributing RM 392 million in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) during the 7-day sales in 2019,” said Lee.
He further suggested for high level dialogues be hosted by the government with local SMEs and e-commerce industry players to further nurture growth for the local e-commerce industry to ensure that this fast-growing industry will benefit the local retailers.