Dr M: Digitalisation vital during lockdown

E-commerce platforms will allow sellers and buyers to meet virtually, broadening their business prospects beyond borders


DIGITALISATION is vital for businesses to boost economic activity as people will have to stay home more to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) said e-commerce platforms and applications will allow sellers and buyers to “meet” virtually, broadening their business prospects beyond borders.

“Before this, we have to (physically) go to the shop and buy things which are found separately all over in the town.

“But with a digital platform, we can access the apps and all the information needed when doing our purchases, which is convenient for us.

“This could improve the volume of sales because now, the whole world can access the products on the website.

“The ease of business transaction because of the availability of digitalisation allows people to do more business than ever before,” Dr Mahathir told the press after officiating the launch of “Herbee” e-commerce platform in Putrajaya yesterday.

On Monday, the government announced the reinforcement of the Movement Control Order in five states and the Federal Territories (FTs) due to the high number of Covid-19 cases, raising worries that it would affect business operations.

The five states are Selangor, Penang, Melaka, Johor and Sabah, while the FTs are Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.

Last month, Malaysia was recognised as one of the top five leading South-East Asia e-commerce markets in terms of growth for 2021, according to a report from financial firm, PPRO.

The report entitled “South-East Asia: The New E-commerce Frontier” also revealed that the outlook for South-East Asia’s e-commerce market is expected to grow 5.5% in 2021.

It stated that despite market contractions over the course of the pandemic, the confidence of consumers in Malaysia has been buoyant, with 63% feeling positive about their future.

This has also been reflected in spending habits observed recently, with gradual growth of retail spending in the fourth quarter of 2020 expected to continue.

Dr Mahathir said the advent of technologies, with some being disruptive, will change the way we do things.

“We have to embrace these technologies which offer new and exciting challenges, but with immeasurable opportunities.”

On the Herbee platform, Dr Mahathir said digitalising local herbal and natural products onto an e-commerce platform is expected to support the products in the global market.

“People have been harnessing biological processes to enhance the quality of life for 10,000 years, beginning with the first agricultural communities.

“The joint venture between the herbal industry and biotechnology sector has created many original products.

“These products can be environmentally friendly solutions for us to attend to our daily situations, without crippling the environment with deadly synthetic chemicals,” said Dr Mahathir, who is also the Human Life Advancement Foundation (HLAF) chairman.

Herbee — an e-commerce marketplace that caters to local brand names of herbal and natural-based products — is co-developed by HLAF and Dropee, a business-to-business e-commerce platform provider that focuses on brands, retailers and wholesalers.

It was projected that the demand for herbal and natural-based products was on the rise, with the industry expected to hit RM32 billion in market value by the end of 2020.

According to HLAF, this presents a huge opportunity to grow Malaysia’s herbal market internationally and potentially, making Malaysia one of the leading countries to develop international standards for herbal and traditional products.

Herbee will be a one-stop centre for consumers who previously have to browse the Internet for reliable and safe-to-consume supplements and natural products, including to verify the product’s authenticity.

Read our earlier report

SMEs need digital technology for survival