What are the big players in Southeast Asia doing to help facilitate e-commerce growth? |Source: Shutterstock

How is Lazada helping SMEs become e-commerce winners?

THE e-commerce market in Malaysia is growing at a rapid rate, as both government and private sectors continue to heavily invest in the digital economy.

These efforts are all in line with the Digital Free Trade Zone (DTFZ), a cooperation between the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation, the various government agencies, and Alibaba Group to redefine global trade by making it as seamless and simplified as possible for Malaysian SMEs to participate and prosper.

Earlier this month, officials revealed that SMEs participating in the DFTZ, have generated a total sales of RM52.1 million (US$13.5 million) since the launch of the trade zone in November.

But what are the big e-commerce players doing to help SMEs and sellers optimize their online presence?

At the Malaysia E-commerce Summit held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Lazada co-chief marketplace officer Shah Suriye Rubhen spoke about how his platform is helping SMEs capitalize on the Southeast Asian market and what factors they must consider in order to optimize growth and success.

Worry-free logistics

Lazada claims that selling across borders is a simple and easy process for SMEs. Source: Shutterstock

According to Rubhen, DFTZ with Lazada equals “worry-free logistics”. The platform aims to make the process of selling across Southeast Asia with the DFTZ a seamless and easy process.

“If you are already selling on the Lazada platform – let’s say in Malaysia – you just need to list your products. This is where your job ends,” Rubhen explained.

From here, Lazada replicates your listing in Malaysia to other countries.

“They buy it, you get a notification on the seller portal, you ship it out, and it’s done”.

According to Rubhen, the idea is that the seller will not feel a difference when fulfilling a local Malaysian order compared to an order from a customer in Thailand or Vietnam.

“That’s how easy we are making it for SMEs out there by using the DFTZ,” he said.

Growth of mobile-commerce

Mobile-commerce in on the rise in Southeast Asia and shows no signs of slowing down. Source: Pixabay

One of the key points that sellers must consider when selling online, according to Rubhen, is the critical role of mobile in e-commerce growth.

In 2016, the number of Malaysians who accessed the internet via their phones was 17.9 million. By 2020, this figure is expected to reach around 21 million mobile phone users.

On top of this, there are over 260 million users already online, with 3.8 million users coming online every month, and over 700 million mobile connections.

As such, businesses must realize the need for the involvement of mobile channels for attracting customers.

“With Lazada, the majority of our shoppers are buying through the app. Why? When you shop in the store you are limited by time and space, but if you shop on the mobile you can do it in your own time,”  Rubhen said.

The popularity of mobile-commerce does not just stop at Lazada. According to a report by iPrice Group, e-commerce in Southeast Asia is a mobile-first economy, leapfrogging all the western economies when it comes to the importance of mobile commerce.

Findings from the report revealed that in the past 12 months, mobile has grown on average 19 percent, accounting for 72 percent of all e-commerce web traffic.

Help and guidance for SMEs

How are big players like Lazada helping SMEs grow and prosper online? Source: Shutterstock.com

Lazada provides help and guidance to SMEs looking to grow their business on the platform with hands-on tutorials, how-to guides, as well as free online and offline classes.

The e-commerce marketplace launched the “Seller App” a couple of months ago, which provides sellers with a variety of tools to manage their business through the app.

According to Rubhen, the main thing SMEs are missing when it comes to e-commerce is information that will really help optimize their business.

With Lazada’s “Business Advisor” tool, sellers can discover simple, yet key information about their business such as which products are proving to be the most popular and which items need to be re-stocked.

While the facilities, tools, and training provided by big players such as Lazada can truly empower SMEs in their e-commerce journey, the determinant of success lies in the hands of the business owner.

“What’s important to realize is that it is not a one-way street. It is not just about what Lazada and the other guys are doing, but also what SMEs should be aware of and how they can capitalize on what’s coming,”  Rubhen said.