We have over 900,000 SMEs in Malaysia today, and nearly 99% of them contribute 38.3% of the country's GDP and 66% of the country's employment.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit us in early 2020 and the government introduced the MCO, many SMEs were hard hit.
An online survey conducted by Recommend.my found that 60.3% of SMEs reported financial difficulties even during the CMCO adopted in June 2020.
Almost half of the SMEs remained closed during the CMCO period due to difficulties in paying staff salaries and renting the premises.
48.3% experienced customer delays or order cancellations that reduced their potential business revenue.
Suddenly it was more urgent for SMEs to digitize their businesses.
Support the acceleration of digital transformation
The idea of digitization is not new to SMEs. However, many companies have been forced to accelerate their digital transformation to stay afloat during the pandemic and it has not been easy for everyone.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) was quick to help.
It launched the e-commerce campaign for micro and SME companies (MSMEs) and the online initiatives of PENJANA Shop Malaysia Online under the umbrella of the PENJANA government.
Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC, told Vulcan Post: "Since the initiatives began, over 45,000 new MSMEs have entered the e-commerce space and a total of over 115,000 MSMEs have benefited from the PENJANA MSMEs e-commerce campaign."
7.8 million consumers across the country who were encouraged to spend on local online sellers benefited from the campaign's discounts and coupons on various participating e-commerce platforms.
Overall, local dealers achieved sales of more than RM 896 million through these platforms.
Solve business’s biggest problems
For example, some of the platforms involved were Fave and Grab.
MDEC shared some testimonials from local companies that benefited from the campaign, including Lexis Hotel Group.
The hotel industry suffered massive blows when both international and local travel were severely restricted in March 2020.
Now that interstate travel is allowed, hotels and hospitality businesses are dependent on local consumers, but Surina noted that many Malaysians are still reluctant to travel due to the recent outbreak across the country.
Since this was a problem, Lexis Hotel Group's solution was to hire Fave to offer local tourists specials and deals on stays. It worked.
“With the PENJANA initiative to stimulate local consumer demand, Lexis Hotels & Resorts saw an increase in bookings for our hotel vouchers through the Fave Malaysia platform as guests were incentivized to get the best travel deals in a time through cashback or direct discounts , where domestic travel is the only option for Malaysians, ”said Samantha Lee, Executive Assistant – Office to the President of Lexis Hotel Group.
Their hotels in Port Dickson and Penang are being used more by the locals, and they have managed to keep operations going and keep the local staff busy.
In F&B, local companies like Vanilla Crepe managed to reduce losses in 23 stores across Malaysia through the PENJANA MSME e-commerce campaign.
Grab was also a key player in helping restaurants like Tiga Budak Gemok and I Am Grepek Bensu stay up to date on the delivery network and contactless solutions.
The PENJANA initiatives enabled them to create incentives such as discounts, vouchers and free deliveries, for example to increase sales and win new customers.
With 20 participating e-commerce partners jointly achieving the governmental allocation of RM70 million as part of the PENJANA MSMEs e-commerce campaign, the e-commerce platforms not only have onboarding training, but also seller subsidies and sales support provided to business owners and MSMEs to take additional action on costs such as shipping and marketing.
Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC
There is still more to be done
The examples above are a strong indication of how e-commerce adoption will support Malaysia's growing digital economy.
According to a study recently commissioned by technology company Cisco and market research firm International Data Corporation on the digital maturity of small and medium-sized enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region in 2020, digitally mature SMEs could potentially add between RM 79 billion and RM 99 billion to Malaysia's GDP by 2024 contribute.
The same study also found that 64% of Malaysian SMEs are planning digital transformation as they bring new products and services to market. This is a huge jump from 33% last year.
However, the lack of digitally qualified talent, the budget and an appropriate roadmap for digital transformation are among the challenges that many SMEs are still facing.
"Now is the unique opportunity for Malaysian SMEs that have not yet entered the e-commerce arena to expand the reach of their existing sales channels while capitalizing on the upward trend in e-commerce demand," advised Surina.
As part of its Go-eCommerce initiative, MDEC will continue to support the introduction of e-commerce and the digitization of companies through programs for SMEs.
Go-eCommerce is an entrepreneurial online platform with tools such as the eBusiness Readiness Tool, which evaluates the status of your e-business and offers tailor-made solutions as well as tailor-made programs such as eUsahawan, eCommerce and export via eCommerce.
- More information about MDEC and Go-eCommerce can be found here.
- Read what we wrote about MDEC here.
Selected image source: Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC