Don’t you think it’s a hassle that you have to get ready, all formally dressed up just to buy one little thing from a shop in the city? Why can’t the thing comes to you on its own while you demand it on your bed, snuggling under the blanket in your Hello Kitty pajama?
Well, well, well, is that even a problem nowadays? Of course not! Not in a world with a high-speed internet connection on your devices and the power of making choices on your fingertips.
Why bother driving across town or even fly overseas just to get the item you desire for when you can just buy it online with the growing power of e-commerce!
Wait, what’s that? This is the first time you ever heard of the term? Well, let’s not shy away shall we, for there will always be a first time to something! 😉
What is e-commerce?
E-commerce is an online business or marketing, which involves the activities of either buying or selling goods over the internet. It is also referring to any form of transaction (goods and services) via the internet.
In other words, you can sell or buy goods and services online!
Interesting, right? But isn’t it more interesting if you’re the one creating your own online business today? I mean, hey, how long will you be the consumer when you can be the provider instead!
So, do you want to know how to get started? Great! Because this article is specially made with love for an enthusiastic entrepreneur like YOU!
The History of E-commerce in Malaysia
Well, before we dive further into the vast sea of e-commerce, why don’t we first get to know the backstory of Malaysia e-commerce? I know not many like to read a long written history so I already summarised it in one poster:
Types of E-commerce
1. Retail – A business of direct selling of a product to a client without any intermediary
2. Wholesale – The business of selling items in bulk, usually through a retailer who will then sells the products directly to the customers
3. Dropshipping – The sale of items through an intermediary (dropshipper) where the products will be delivered by a third party (manufacturer).
4. Crowdfunding – An effort made by a company in collecting money from consumers in order to jump start a business or enterprise.
5. Subscription – The act on investing a sum of money or what is known to be automatic recurring purchase in order to be able to buy an item or service on a regular basis. This shall last until the subscriber decides to cancel his/her subscription.
6. Physical Products – Any form of goods which is tangible and needs inventory to be delivered physically to consumers once sales are made.
7. Digital Products – Online digital goods, courses, templates or any media which can be downloaded but will first need to be purchased for licensed used.
8. Services – Skill(s) provided and is up for a sell in compensation. In other words, the service time is to be purchased as a fee.
Dominant Players in Malaysia Market
BlackFriday of Malaysia
1. 11.11 Singles Day – Originated at University of Nanjing in 1993, where students celebrate their singledom. The 11:11 was used to as it looks like four single bare sticks. Jack Ma, was the founder of this singleton day.
2. 12.12 – South East Asia’s version of singles day shopping sale. Revolutionised by Lazada, Zalora and a few other marketplaces after seeing Black Friday and Thanksgiving sale were not much of a success in the Asian market.
3. Black Friday – The day where retailers make a load of special offers. First day of Christmas shopping season which comes a day after Thanksgiving.
4. My Cyber Sales – The biggest online sale event in Malaysia.
How do Malaysians Shop?
With the rising internet penetration all over the states in this country, Malaysia, following the global trend, has now migrated from PCs to mobile phones. Thus, making this device a vital platform in e-commerce Malaysia.
Realising this matter, many online marketers launched their own mobile-friendly platform to catch up with the mainstream. Facebook and Instagram are among the top online places where Malaysians would shop till they drop.
Ergo, it is important that you level up your social media marketing skill at its fullest.
However, Malaysians are yet to buy everything online like any other established and more mature e-commerce markets outside the country.
This is due to the fact stated by Consumer Barometer from Google 2017 where Malaysians are shown to be more inclined to purchase clothing and footwear, hotels, flights as well as music and travel ground from the online platform.
This means that not all e-commerce business will flourish online.
How To Kick-start Your E-Commerce Business?
1. Choose The Nature of Your E-commerce Business & Product
Now that you’ve known there are myriad types of online business, you should at least have something in mind as what product would you like to sell and the nature of your business.
· Physical Products: Phone Accessories, Clothing & Apparels, Cosmetics
· Digital Products: e-Book, Apps, Software
· Services: Photography, Website Developing, Portfolio Website
· Selling Other Business’ Product: Affiliate, Reseller
Hopefully, the aforementioned examples could at least enlighten you on what should you expect to sell for your online business!
However, before anything, it is advisable for you to actually ponder on this thought-provoking question of “Why do I want to start an online business in Malaysia?”. I mean, everything must have its own purpose, mate. Make sure yours is a good one.
One thing you can do is by making your own business planner.
For the first page, go for the vision and mission of your business. This is vital for you to know where you are going from the starting line and what are you hoping for in the future once your business is already established.
You can use it as a declaration as well as a goal that will motivate you to work hard in order to make your dreams come true. Have a clear and mindset and you’re ready to go!
2. Register Your Ecommerce Company Name via Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM)
Well, you can’t just open up a business without a legal procedure. Thus, in order for you to get a valid online business in Malaysia, you will first have to register your company with Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM). If you’re a foreigner, here’s a detailed guide on registering your company with SuruhanJaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM).
But, before that, make sure you already know which types of business company you are going to run for in Malaysia:
- Sole Proprietor: For this business, you are to run it on your own. The business liability will be considered as your personal liability.
As for your business name, it’s up to you whether you want to register it using your own personal name such as ‘Kevin’ (RM30 per year) or a trade name such as ‘Sterrific’ (RM60 per year).
- Partnership: As for this type of business, you are to operate it with a partner. You can have more than one partner according to your liking. The business liability shall be the medium which bounds all the partners in your company.
However, you should know that if a partner of yours decides to terminate or quit his/her partnership, you will need to register your business again if you do not wish for it to be banished for good. The registration fee is RM60 per year.
(2) Sdn Bhd
This is a type of business which enables you to to have a separate entity in governing your company. The registration fee is also different as compared to the previous two.
Creating Your Business Name
After making up your mind on what type of business you will be running for, here comes the fun part – naming your business!
Well, though I said it’s a fun part, that doesn’t mean you can take it easy, in fact, this shall reflect your business ultimate identity for a lifetime.
Take a look at our simple yet powerful guidelines in creating the best company’s name in Malaysia here.
Be Wise in Choosing Your Business Category
The business description and category is another vital part of registering your company. Be particular with your business nature.
Do not put anything unrelated under the description if you do not wish to encounter any nuisance with your payment gateway application in the future. If you’re selling Vans Shoes, for instance, you can put it under ‘Fashion & Apparels.’
For further read up and enlightenment on this topic, check out our article on how to register your company through SSM.
3. Set Up Your Ecommerce Domain Name, Hosting & Email Address
Now that you’re done with your company registration, it’s time to get down to business. For a jump-start, you can first get your own company domain name and create a proper email address for your ecommerce business.
A domain name acts as identification as well as an authoritative custom web address that you, as an online entrepreneur, should own. It gives you a unique, credible web address based on your company’s registered name.
Our company, for instance, is using the domain name of sterrific.com.my for our online business. A business registration ID will be sent to you after your business registration in Malaysia is completed.
By using this unique registration code, you can create your own “.com.my” domain for your ecommerce website.
Host ‘Em All
Ever heard of hosting? Well, just like how the name suggests, it is actually a rental online disk space to store all of your digital files, from web design text to images as well as videos for your sites.
This space will help you to store and display your files safely. For your information, you can easily get all three of them (your email, domain name and hosting) through online web hosting companies in Malaysia. Do hit them up!
Business Email Address
Believe it or not, it is always best to use company-branded email to build trust among your customers towards your business. I mean hey, everyone can make a free email account but not everyone has a credible email with @yourdomain.com.my at the back of the address.
4. Dress Up Your Website & Organise Your Content
It will usually take up around 1-2 hours for your domain name and hosting to get activated if you pay via credit card. And now, you can go crazy with your website!
Creating a customer-friendly website is vital in attracting more traffic to your site. Make sure you are using the latest up-to-date version of the professional layout to marketize your homepage.
The quality of your web design will influence your ranking in Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
If you have zero ideas on how to work it out, you can always use the built-in Web Builder or mayhaps, just hire an experienced web design company like sterrific.com.my or a freelancer to help you out.
Managing Your Content
In order to stay aligned with Google’s mission in content creating, be sure to provide meaningful content for your readers. Do not copy-paste from other sites nor should you spam your page with irrelevant information.
One tip for you is to provide them with brand new information which they could not get from any other sites other than yours. Your custom content must be unique and has high readability (by keeping it simple and straightforward) to your readers.
You might also want to optimise the use of trending keywords in the market for your content which you can easily find through Google Ads Keyword Planner as well as a site such as Ahrefs. This shall boost your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) later.
Speed Up Your Site
Let’s get real. No one likes waiting. Same goes to your customers. Using too many images and videos as well as featured apps on your page might make the site slower to load.
Bear in mind that most internet users are holding on to the 3-second-principle where they will get out of a page which takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
There’s no harm in putting images and videos to make your site looks alive and interactive, but try to minimise it as best as you can by inserting only the relevant and most efficient ones to attract your customers’ attention.
4. Promoting Your Business
It’s a common thing for a start-up company to not getting any attention during the first few months of their opening. It will take some time for search engine like Google to index your website, thus, forcing you to work harder in order to be displayed in the search results.
You will not get anywhere unless you make a move. Here comes the promotion and advertisement role in marketing your ecommerce business.
No one will know about your products and services until you actually announce them to people. In order to do this, you will have to make full use of the digital platform of yours such as your website as well as your social media.
The most popular way of doing this is via Facebook Advertising. This is due to the fact that Facebook penetration in Malaysia is one of the highest in the world, thus, promising you more traffic and backlinks for your company’s rank.
Another effective method is through Instagram ads. Now that many younger generations have migrated from Facebook to Instagram to do online shopping, do utilise this medium to advertise your products and services in the most creative way possible.
Use smart and up-to-date catchphrases to grab their attention and lure them with reasonable offers and sales from time to time.
Other online methods including Google AdWords advertising, email marketing, pay per click campaign as well as different types of SEO strategies for you to work on.
Apart from that, you can also use offline alternatives such as newspaper and magazines. Or you can even pay a particular television and radio station to advertise your ecommerce business.
5 Ultimate Tips To Boost Your E-Commerce Business
1. Boost Your Brand
Now that you’ve known how to jump-start your e-commerce business, I think it’s best if you are given some head ups on how to bolster your online business with some of the latest and efficient ways in the market today:
It is important that you start up by building more and more brand awareness among your potential customers.
In order to do this, you will need to create trust among your clients. And where would trust come from you asked? – quality. Yup, and by quality, I mean the content of your site should be meaningful, unique and top-notch.
Apart from that, you can also consider making a partnership with respected influencers and established businesses in your industry. It is easier to gain people’s trust when they know you have a good business relationship with other trusted brand.
Another tip is by being active on your e-commerce social media and let your presence be felt every single second of the day.
2. Build E-mail Lists
Take this as a powerful backup medium for you to rely on in case of unexpected downfall in the future. Why do I say that?
It’s due to the fact that you actually OWN your email, thus, giving you the authority to continue interacting with your customers through email without having to bother about the ever-changing policy around you.
You cannot rely solely on Google and Facebook as their policies might change through time.
Besides that, an email list will give you a higher chance of repeat purchases as your customers are constantly being updated with the latest products of yours.
Another thing is because you can encourage them to repeat purchases directly through their inbox, from time to time. Thus, be sure to have an email list with quality leads.
3. Test Your Site Frequently
“Just because it looks right, doesn’t mean it’ll work just right,”– Padman (2018).
You might want to hold on to this powerful life advice by Lakshmi’s boss to his workmate from a popular Hindi movie called Padman.
Yup, just because your site looks perfect, doesn’t mean it will automatically function perfectly. It is your job to test it over and over again until you, yourself are satisfied with every single button and section on your page.
By doing this, you can see where your customers are dropping off and what should you do to improve your online service. Be it calls to action, loading time, photography or even the colours of your site, all of these matters.
Well, if not to you, it should be, to your customers.
4. Excellent Customer Service
Excellent customer service is also another type of marketing you should not overlook. Bear in mind that you are nothing without your customers.
It is always a better move for you to make use of the chatbox on your page to interact with your clients. You can use the automatic pop up chat for your audiences’ convenience and as a warm digital greeting to welcome them to your page.
This will also encourage them to ask questions and in return will help you to determine which part of your marketing strategy is not clear enough and how can you further improve your service in the future.
You can outsource this task to your business partner or somebody that you trust if you really have no time to entertain them.
5. Take Advantage of Your Shipping
Never belittle even the smallest form of delivery to your client. No matter how petty you think this matter is, it could bring a huge impact to your customers.
Thus, it is important that you put a lot of thought and consideration on how to tackle your customers through your shipping service.
One thing you can do is by providing free shipping (just like what Amazon does) to your clients. You can choose whether to do this only on hot selling items or even to all of your products.
But if you choose the latter, you might want to come up with a condition such as they will need to pay RM10 as a required amount for them to access the offer.
Apart from that, you can also send shipping confirmation emails to your customers in order to engage with them even after they have done purchasing.
Thus, don’t forget to include your brand name in the subject line as the chances for these kinds of emails to be opened are higher than the ones without it.
Now that you have all the information needed to start up your e-commerce business, the next thing I will share with you is more likely going to help you in deciding which item you should and should not sell in the market.
5 Top Selling Products in Malaysia Online Market
1. Apparel Accessories
If you are unsure of what to sell online and which products will flourish, the secret is that fashionwear will never be out of fashion.
Ray bans, ties and pocket squares, for instance, will always be in fashion regardless of the season.
People wear clothes every day, thus, its demand will continue until God knows when.
Everyone needs to keep track of time in this fast-paced world. Thus, the device called watch should never be out of fashion just like its apparel counterpart. In fact, it has become a fashion statement nowadays.
There are all sorts of design you might want to consider selling, from analog to digital clock and smartwatches, every type has its own fans.
3. Shapewears & Leggings
Now that more people are going to the gym and doing yoga during their free time, you might want to consider selling leggings and shapewears for these bunches.
Well, not only them of course. It is a trend nowadays to wear these tight-fitting wears everywhere you go, either to match your loose top or even act as the innerwear at times.
4. Woodcrafts and Earthenware
Yup, that’s right! The wooden crafts such as daggers of keris and kitchen utensils are being actively produced due to the high amount of trees in Malaysia. These products are of high demand due to their antiquity and unique decoration.
As for earthenware such as terenang and labu sayong, they are mostly sold for its aesthetic values.
5. Branded Plastic Bags
In Malaysia online market, you can pretty much sell anything under the Sun, even your plastic or paper bags! But most of the times, customers will go for a quality one with the cheapest price in the market.
This is especially to those who wish to style themselves with exclusive fashion look but doesn’t really want to spend so much ka-ching from their purse.
To conclude, do take note on every little detail which has been mentioned in the article before you kick off your e-commerce business in Malaysia.
It might look impossible to start at first, but the main thing is to just set your first step ahead and let the rest of the journey takes you to somewhere new.
Have a goal, be consistent, and never give up! All the best, well-to-be CEO!