Getting SMEs to join e-commerce is a challenge, says MITI deputy minister

Govt is trying to embark on initiatives that can build the e-commerce ecosystem via various business opportunities, says Ong


GETTING small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be part of the e-commerce ecosystem remains one of the main challenges for the government.

Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said the government is embarking on initiatives that could build the e-commerce ecosystem via various business opportunities.

“We want to create an ecosystem where new e-commerce players can come into the market through various platforms so that SMEs can participate.

“However, getting the SMEs on board is a challenge. Currently, we are embarking on collaborations with different social media platforms,” he said at the launch of new mobile e-commerce platform Fingo (M) Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

Ong said there would always be expectations for e-commerce platforms to expand their markets outside of Malaysia.

He added that the government wants to give more options for Malaysian consumers to find more goods as well as encourage the use of such platforms, especially for local SMEs who are eyeing the Asean market and other parts of Asia.

“There are a lot of opportunities to promote local products. Of course, all the durian-related products are very popular in China, but we also want other products to be promoted on various e-commerce platforms as well,” Ong said.

Fingo, the first of its kind that utilises supplier-to-business-to-client (S2B2C) model, allows shopper access goods from a number of suppliers, namely Tmall and Taobao.

The platform also opens up entrepreneurial opportunities for locals via a members-reward system.

The platform was founded by a group of former executives from China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which has targeted to tap into the booming market in South-East Asia.

Fingo Malaysia GM C S Lee said the group is optimistic that Malaysia is the right choice as studies show that 79% of its population is made up of active Internet users.

“Interestingly, around 24 million people are considered as active social media users and 22 million of them are regular users of social media on their mobile devices.

“This high mobile-penetration rate translates into a huge market opportunity for online-based commerce and business transactions,” he said.

He also added that currently, the company has set a target to get as many as 500,000 active shoppers on the platform in Malaysia by the end of the year.

“For most e-commerce platforms, they only target consumers in the larger cities, but with our strategy of social e-commerce, we hope to be able to reach rural areas and kampungs (villages) like in East Malaysia via recommendations and sharing from families and friends,” he said.

Fingo Group CEO Dong Fang said the company’s model uses big data selection technology to aggregate, socialise and interact with its members.

“The information on demand, predicting fashion and buying trends will be integrated with domestic and international supply chains, which creates an efficient S2B2C platform,” he said.

The social aspect of the application utilises the sharing aspect of social media which is then seen by friends and family of the user, thus increasing traction for the supplier as well as allowing users to market their chosen products, whom will benefit from the app’s members-reward system.

Moving forward, Lee said the mobile application has plans to expand its market to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“By the end of the year, we plan to have a few more market expansions, but we are targeting Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia first.

“Then it would be the Philippines, before gradually moving into other countries,” he said.