Choice overload seen as hurdle to digitalisation

PETALING JAYA: Given the emphasis on digitalisation driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies are inundated with the abundance of options to take their business online, said EasyStore CEO Frost Chen.

Options for such business range from e-commerce website builders, online ordering forms, social media platforms (Facebook Live and Instagram TV) as well as e-commerce marketplace such as Shopee and Lazada.

Chen stated that many businesses understand the need to transition from brick & mortar to online platforms but at the same time there are too many platforms to choose from.

“In hindsight, these available online channels should be benefiting many traditional SMEs and brands. But in reality, they are overwhelming traditional businesses with the number of choices,” he told SunBiz.

In the journey to digitalisation, Chen highlighted that smaller traders – those who are hawkers and night market traders – are the ones who find it most challenging to adapt to the virtual world.

“They are commonly troubled by uncertainties – not knowing which sales channels to begin with, and which would work best for them. These businesses worry about making the wrong decisions.”

He said this is one of the main stumbling blocks for many SMEs, as they are still trying to explore their options rather than taking action and begin securing sales.

Chen added that there are also merchants who gave up after trying out one or two sales channels as their expectations were not met.

Acknowledging these challenges, EasyStore placed its emphasis on the merchant experience with onboarding activities and workshops to get newcomers to understand the full spectrum of its functionality. It also offers real-time support for merchants through various channels.

“Ultimately, we aim to help merchants to maximise business efficiency by managing multiple sales channels and related services from a single master interface, increase productivity through automated processes like invoicing and maintain brand relevance via social media marketing,” he explained.

For entrepreneurs looking to take their businesses online, Chen said it is easy as it only requires basic knowledge in using web browser and familiarity with smartphones or laptops to create an account with the platform.

“Thereafter, they can easily create an account on any sales channel of their choosing. With an EasyStore account, businesses can easily sell through multiple sales channels including their own e-commerce websites, Facebook, Instagram, Shopee, Lazada, WhatsApp and many more other channels at the same time.

“Regardless of the size of businesses or the channels used, EasyStore allows merchants to reach more potential customers through increased sales channels without the need for more human resources.”

Currently, EasyStore serves about 10,000 merchants across Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. In 2020, merchants with the platform have thrived despite the pandemic, generating a gross merchandise value of RM500 million.

During the year, Chen said it has helped merchants expand internationally supporting multiple currencies, payment methods and integrated international shipping features.

Moving forward, he hopes to build a stronger presence in Southeast Asia and beyond over the next few years as well.

For 2021, the platform aims to have a 10,000 merchants sign up target as well as to empower an additional 50,000 SMEs and brands within the Asia Pacific region in the next three years.

“The pandemic has definitely accelerated digital transformation, and we are optimistic about growth within the next few years. Ultimately, we are focusing on helping these SMEs and brands, hopeful that they would be able to find value in the services we provide, and that we help them to shift their businesses online to not just outlive the pandemic, but also thrive over the long term post-pandemic.”