Many options for online retailing

By

From the consumer’s perspective, more and more Malaysians now engage in regular online shopping activities to spend more quality time at home with their families.

From the consumer’s perspective, more and more Malaysians now engage in regular online shopping activities to spend more quality time at home with their families.

By Oon Yeoh

There was a time when doing online retailing was quite a challenge for Malaysia. This mainly had to do with shopping carts and payment gateways.

In the early days of the dotcom boom, circa 2000, it could cost literally hundreds of thousands of ringgit to set up your own online store. There was no local company offering cheap, off-the-shelf online shopping carts and banks did not offer payment gateways to small start-ups.

So, online retailing took quite a while to take off. Today, the online retailing scene is quite varied which is not surprising given the wide array of options available. From the consumer’s perspective, more and more Malaysians now engage in regular online shopping activities to spend more quality time at home with their families.

The most basic form of online retailing is done through what has been termed “blogshops”. These are basically blogs where each posting features an item for sale. This is a very primitive form of online retailing because there’s no catalogue, no shopping carts, no payment gateways.

Usually the buyer will deposit money into the seller’s bank account and e-mail the seller a copy of the digital receipt.

It’s hardly a sophisticated set up, but its simplicity is the very reason why so many first-time online retailers use this approach. Literally anybody – even secondary school students – can set up a blogshop.

If you want a more sophisticated set-up, you can actually incorporate PayPal into your blog. Maybank also offers a simple payment gateway for blogshops.  Although the overwhelming majority of blogshops out there still accept payment the primitive way (i.e. via bank deposits), quit e a few have adopted Maybank2u’s option. You can see a list of them here.

If you want to move beyond blogshops and set up a proper online store with a built-in catalogue, shopping cart and payment gateway, there are local options available now. One of the most prominent is Easy.my.

Easy.my offers an array of plans. The basic package, which costs RM800 per year, allows for you to sell up to 500 products across 250 categories. You can post an unlimited number of photos and it also allows the embedding of YouTube videos.

There’s a shopping cart built in, with support for three types of payment gateways: PayPal, iPay88 and MOLPay. Not only that, it can also generate reports for inventory, sales, top selling product and top customer. It also facilitates integration with a Facebook Page and even facilitates Skype and live chats (for customer support). It essentially gives you everything you need to start a fairly robust online store.

But if you don’t like the idea of having your own online store and would rather be part of a bigger platform, you can try Mudah, eBay Malaysia and Lelong.

You’ve got nothing to lose trying out eBay Malaysia because (unlike eBay USA), there is no fee charged for listing products there. So, you can use the platform at no charge. There is a reason why it’s free though. The site is not very popular yet so there’s not a whole lot of traffic going through there.

If you want a busier platform, you can give Lelong a try. Basic posting is free but there are miscellaneous fees involved that you need to pay. It might be worth it though because Lelong is a very heavily trafficked site.

Mudah, meanwhile, has even more traffic and people post all kinds of things there – not just products but even job listings! But bear in mind that it’s not an online retailing site per se as there is no shopping cart or payment gateway involved. It is actual more accurate to call it a classified ads platform. Nevertheless, you can still use it to sell things.

As you can see, there are now plenty of ways for Malaysians to start selling something online and the options range from zero cost to something that costs less than RM1,000 per year. There’s really no excuse these days not to try your hand at e-commerce.

Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant. He has written books on emerging technologies, entrepreneurship and social media.

Leave a Comment