If I have to talk about an improvement in Malaysia, this has to be of the bigger stuff – it is recently reported that Malaysians spent RM1.8 billion (about USD600 million) in online shopping in 2010, a figure 3 times the amount 3 years ago.
Looking at the published figures, I’m actually not surprised to see travel and bill payments dominating the list but this shows that Malaysians are becoming more open to online payments, something that has been scarcely present in the past years.
So, What Could This Mean?
#1: Increased Consumer Confidence
The consumers are beginning to see and experience how the Internet can benefit them in providing convenience and accessibility to more product options that leads to increased buying power (and knowledge).
#2: Increased Consumer Knowledge
Consumers have grown to accept technology as part of their lives, putting aside the fear of security threats – which was one of the main excuse or hinderance expressed in the past. In fact, I would think that this growth in knowledge is evident as a survey in 2010 revealed that Malaysians spend 9 hours on social networking sites weekly which also suggests the amount of time spent seeking ‘knowledge’. Apart from that, local businesses and companies are also seen to be more incline and receptive towards online marketing than previous years!
#3: Good News for Online Businesses… and the rise of competition
This growth definitely benefit all online businesses as they will be the ones directly benefiting from it but they too, can expect a growth in the number of new competitors. This means that the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the usage of social media will also increase as businesses attempt to create a niche to find their footing in the industry.
It’s finally taking off! Is Social Commerce anywhere in sight?
I’ve waited for this day long enough and although I’ve personally been feeling the improvement, this acts as a confirmation. Having that said, it is just a matter of time for social commerce to start in Malaysia itself, especially considering the fact that Malaysians are spending so much time on social media. Couple that with the confidence in online purchase, I can say that Malaysian consumers are close to being ready for social commerce.