Mara Digital Mall sales and traffic fall

What was meant to be an alternative to Low Yat Plaza, Mara Digital Mall is losing its lustre

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK & AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

Mara Digital Mall, which was established as an outlet for Bumiputera Information Communications Technology (ICT) retailers in December 2015, is losing its lustre barely two years after its grand opening.

What was meant to be an alternative to an already successful ICT Mall — Low Yat Plaza — Mara Digital Mall is experiencing decline in terms of sales and the number of patrons.

“Retailers are seeing decline in sales after over a year of operation due to the lack of product variation, competitive prices and slow publicity,” Acer Inc Concept Store manager Faizal Johari told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.

Faizal, who was a trader at Low Yat Plaza, said his business did pretty well for the first four months.

“After that, the customers returned to Low Yat,” he said.

Although Mara Digital Mall is located near the “local hot-spots” Sogo Mall and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, it is still struggling to establish itself as THE digital mall.

Launched in December 2015, the project was proposed by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry after a dispute at Low Yat in July 2015.

Also known as “Low Yat 2” before it was rebranded, Mara Digital Mall aims to provide a platform for Bumiputera entrepreneurs to break through the ICT market, which is monopolised by Low Yat, and to provide alternative solutions for ICT users.

Faizal claimed that retailers at Mara Digital Mall could not seem to compete in terms of pricing, with their counter-parts at Low Yat Plaza.

“For instance, if we sell a laptop for RM1,700, buyers can get the same laptop at Low Yat for RM1,500. Not only do they have competitive prices, product availability and variation are also higher,” he said.

A survey by TMR observed that most products sold at Mara Digital Mall are between 10% and 12% more pricey than those available at Low Yat Plaza.

“We can sell at cheaper price if we have high volume, but that is impossible without visibility. We can’t even lower our prices because we are required to get our supplies from a sole vendor.

“If we are given the freedom to choose our suppliers, we might be able to lower our prices,” Faizal said.

Currently, traders at Mara Digital Mall are required to buy only from WGN Scan Sdn Bhd and any purchases made from another dealer must be declared with a 1.5% charge per item. Traders who fail to do so are required to pay a RM500 summons.

“We want to make each item exclusive for every store so that they have their own specialties,” WGN Scan branch GM’s secretary Muhammad Fauzan Sabirin said.

Despite the traders’ grouses, Muhammad Fauzan claimed that the total sales at the mall would amount up to between RM200,000 and RM400,000 weekly.

He added that their marketing team is attempting their best to increase visibility through social media and events. Its official Facebook, “Mara Digital Kuala Lumpur” currently has 5,422 followers.

Some of the events that took place this year were gaming tournaments, the Oppo Electronics fair held in June and the upcoming Acer fair in October.

“Tenants will be charged with a reasonable fee not exceeding RM5,000, depend- ing on the booth size if they wish to hold an event at the atrium.

“The fee is payable to the building management — Mara Inc. The main point is to bring people here. Surprisingly, our market doesn’t come from Kuala Lumpur alone, but also from all over Malaysia including Sabah and Sarawak,” said Muhammad Fauzan, adding that the traffic comparison between the two malls is unfair.

“Low Yat has been established years ago, while we will be celebrating our second anniversary this December,” he said.

While most traders complained about their sales, an outlet that seems to be doing better could be “Ustaz”, an accessories shop that has attracted more customers.

A spokesperson of Ustaz said they receive an average of more than 200 visitors per day. The establishment is not bound to purchasing products from WGN due to their specialty not covered by the supplier.

“The prices we offer are cheap because the accessories are imported from China. Most of our sales are phone cases and USB cables,” she said.