New Straits Times
By Dawn Chan, Dhesegaan Bala Krishnan – November 1, 2020 @ 10:32am
KUALA LUMPUR: Shopee has proposed that the Finance Ministry and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation continue with the Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) involving e-commerce platforms by factoring it in the 2021 Budget.
The government’s efforts have shown how e-commerce could drive the economy, which had not only helped cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and consumers, but had also yielded positive results.
Shopee regional managing director Ian Ho said the Penjana Micro-, Small- and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) ECommerce Campaign had empowered over 40,000 sellers who were new to e-commerce.
These new Shopee sellers, he added, performed 158 per cent better in average daily sales after joining the campaign.
Ho said the Shop Malaysia Online initiative, on the other hand, had generated more than RM500 million for 83,000 local sellers.
The subsidies in the form of discounts, cashback and free shipping vouchers had benefited close to three million Malaysians as they helped ease the rising cost of living, he added.
He said Shopee’s database showed that an average new buyer who came online because of the Penjana subsidies went on to make four additional purchases in August and September.
Ho said this demonstrated a good retention rate that would serve as a boost for local online sellers.
“However, two months are not nearly enough to boost Malaysia’s digital economy.
“We have received many more requests from MSMEs for support.
“More needs to be done to future-proof the economy and put businesses back on track.
“Recognising the impact of these campaigns on local sellers and the economy, we believe there is vast potential to scale them up.
“As such, we hope that the government will continue working with e-commerce platforms like ourselves and extend these initiatives into 2021,” he told the New Sunday Times recently.
Ho believed the government could accelerate the growth of e-commerce and revitalise businesses by disbursing welfare aid in the form of e-wallet credits or vouchers.
“By dipping into an existing fund allocation, the government can boost the digital economy in a cost-effective manner.”
Echoing Ho was the founder of homegrown Oxwhite lifestyle brand, C.K. Chang, who believed that e-commerce could drive the digital economy.
He expressed hope that the government would make financial aid and support tools more accessible to local e-commerce start-ups like Oxwhite.
“We hope that government initiatives such as the Penjana campaigns to spur the digital economy will continue so that Malaysians will be incentivised to support local e-commerce players,” said Chang.
Citrine One Group founder Ivlynn Yap expressed hope that the government would consider the challenges that companies were bound to face next year even after the pandemic came under control.
Yap, who leads the communications consulting firm, said businesses would not be as usual and many owners, especially SMEs, would have to continue to be prudent.
“We hope the government will continue to provide a feasible subsidy programme to allow companies to provide apprenticeship, training and reskilling programmes for jobseekers.
“This will create job opportunities and a platform for grooming entrepreneurs,” she said.
Local tech company DE-CIX Malaysia board member Weng Yew Wong wished that the government would continue to provide subsidies to SMEs and enterprises to fast-track their digital transformation.
Bert’s Café managing par tner Sarah Fadzil said digitalisation of business processes had eased the effects of the pandemic and propelled businesses to greater efficiency.
“Digitalisation and adoption of digital tools are key in ensuring the sustainability of our business. So we hope to see more initiatives from the government to empower business owners to move in this direction.
“As a food service provider, I hope the 2021 Budget will include measures to ensure the availability and affordability of food items because, at the end of the day, people are working to put food on the table for themselves and their families.”