How Lazada saves Cameron Farmers

Lazada Malaysia steps in to help connect this group of farmers, fishermen and owners of food businesses with buyers online


WHEN the Movement Control Order (MCO) was first implemented on March 18, perhaps not many realised the severe impact and toll it would take on so many industries globally.

While governments around the world worked hard to help combat the spread of Covid-19, one of the main groups of people that suffered major losses was the agriculture sector.

Farmers, fishermen and owners of food businesses have always been an important part of Malaysia’s economy and it was estimated that more than 2,300 farmers suffered losses of around RM1 million per day due to not being able to sell their produce .

That is when e-commerce giant, Lazada Malaysia, stepped in to help connect this group of people with buyers online.

Cameron Farmers marketing manager Shwe Ying (picture) said a week into the MCO, the team realised this situation would likely be for the long haul and they might even face the possibility of shutting down.

Cameron Farmers consisted of two vegetable farmers, one seafood supplier and a recent addition — a collaboration with a homemade Nyonya paste maker.

“We had to re-strategise and review our current business model to not only diversify, but to look after our employees as well,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in a video interview recently.

She said because Cameron Farmers could only get small lorries for distribution purposes, only 20% of the local produce was sold, while the rest dumped.

“We also faced delivery issues to other states for bulky perishables, but then on March 25, 2020, we received a call from Lazada Malaysia. Within 48 hours, Cameron Farmers had integrated with Lazada’s end-to-end logistics ecosystem onboard the platform, created the Seller Centre account and uploaded the first batch of products by 6.30pm on March 26,” she said.

Shwe said the store offers fresh vegetables including corn, cabbage, eggplant, lemongrass, spring onion, potato, chilli, tomato, carrot, beans and more.

The vegetables are sold individually or packed in a variety of bundles, such as for salad and stir-fry, and are priced between RM20 and RM30.

Not surprisingly, Cameron Farmers received its first order within 30 minutes of going live and its first delivery was on March 27.

“On that weekend, Cameron Farmers sold 1.5 tonnes of vegetables to some 200 households in a day. Today, we have doubled our orders to 400 daily,” Shwe said.

Additionally, within a month of being on the platform, Cameron Farmers garnered nearly 30,000 followers with almost 100% rating.

The Logistics

According to Shwe, ensuring the produce remains fresh has been an utmost priority.

She said the cut-off time for orders is 2pm every day to ensure the transportation capacity is being planned well.

“The farmers pack the vegetables at 6am the following morning. The produce are wrapped with plastic and newspaper and placed in a well ventilated box.

“They are then loaded on lorries and transported to Cameron Farmers headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, which takes about three hours all in. By 9am, the food is on its way to our customers,” Shwe said.

She added that seafood like the tiger prawns, sea bass, clams and baby octopus are sold and are put in dry ice-packs to make sure they stay fresh.

“These packs can last up to four hours, so the seafood is all still frozen even when it reaches the buyer,” she said.

The Lazada Story

Shwe said one of the vital benefits of joining the e-commerce platform is the ability to market product beyond brick-and-mortar stores in one area.

She said having a much wider audience and being able to utilise community building resources on the platform has helped so much and prevented the produce from going to waste.

In addition, Lazada’s “Pakej Kedai Pintar” offered a zero-percent commission rate for its sellers.

“Lazada’s “Pakej Kedai Pintar“ for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) allows sellers to operate on zero commission, which has helped optimise the cashflow during the MCO. SMEs can also activate a 60-day free shipping voucher to drive conversion and increase each customer’s basket size,” she said.

Lazada said its sellers have much to benefit from, including customer relationship management support via Email Direct Marketing, as well as the use of direct one-on-one inbox messages to followers to facilitate sale conversion.

Future Plans

Shwe said the team is always looking to diversify and is currently in talks with other suppliers as well.

“Our orders have been overwhelming for the coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri and we expect it to increase between 30% and 40%. We are trying to throw in more deals to best meet the orders of our buyers, but we want to ensure stock management and customer satisfaction are up to standards,” she said.

Shwe added that the aim now is to focus on post-MCO and see how the team can work together to bring in more suppliers.

“We are thinking of introducing a campaign for bulk orders and to supply to restaurants. We also want to look at other perishable food products, this is all in the pipeline,” Shwe said.