Bricks-and-mortar local retailers turn to Internet to sell more

Traditional retailers in Malaysia now embracing this modern technology as an alternative distribution channel to their customers

By FARA AISYAH / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

Encouraged by the recent success of “11.11 — Single’s Day” as well as the “12.12” bash, Malaysian retailers are now joining the bandwagon and investing in the digital space.

Adhering to corresponding trajectories of other leading-edge countries such as the US and the UK, local retailers today are beginning to pick up some of the innovative e-commerce traits they’ve learned by elevating their game and importing effective e-commerce business practices from abroad, right down to handling basic barriers to online sales such as shipping costs, returns and digital payments, and also improving upon the overall “online shopping” experience.

“Traditional retailers in Malaysia are now embracing this modern technology as an alternative distribution channel to their customers. As a result, many of them are going online.

“They are now competing head on with pure-play online retailers. For example, Malaysians can now enjoy shopping online for H&M products and all the great offers the site are giving out for the holidays,” Retail Group (M) Sdn Bhd MD Tan Hai Hsin told The Malaysian Reserve.

However, even though the forth-coming future for the retail market is undeniable in cyberspace, online retailers are beginning to realise that they still cannot get by without the need of bricks-and-mortar.

Online players will not likely replace the bricks-and-mortar retailers any time soon, said Tan, adding that online sales for retail goods have yet to make a significant impact on the retail industry and last year, it only accounts for 2% of the total retail market.

Also, many retailers of tactile as well as personal products — such as clothing, eyewear and jewellery — found that selling products in person has a better visible appeal. And that’s also the reason why many retailers are setting up trial pop-up

booths in shopping centres and the like before actually establishing flagship stores.

“The great advantage of having a flagship store is that they make fantastic marketing vehicles,” said Tan. “Those actual stores can turn out to be financially successful on their own, but they can also yield a huge boost for the retailer’s online store.”

Here are some online retailers that have set up brick-and-mortar stores: Christy Ng now has five physical stores, FashionValet has three, Twenty3 has five and lastly, Bawal Aidijuma has 22 retail outlets.

Tan said retailers who will be successful in the future are the ones who are able to cross over multiple channels — physical as well as online — to sell their products.

Malaysia Retail Chain Association VP Datuk Liew Bin agrees with Tan.

Liew, who has both online and offline retail stores, said consumers will buy products via platforms that are convenient to them.

“Online retail is not replacing the brick-and-mortars simply because people are still going to the malls.”

ShopBack Malaysia country GM Alvin Gill, meanwhile, revealed that the average spending per customer surged more than threefold during the recent 12.12 online shopping celebration compared to 11.11.

“During 12.12, the average spending per customer was RM485 compared to RM122 during 11.11, where the average spending was US$76 (RM310).

“This is due to the increase in travel bookings made for year-end and school holidays, Christmas gift purchases as well as apparels purchases for the New Year,” said Gill.

ShopBack Malaysia collaborated with over 30 online partners during 12.12, among these were Lazada, Zalora, 11street as well as Booking.com.