It’s not common for a country in developing regions like Southeast Asia to have full government support for its tech ecosystem, and Malaysia is one of them.

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According to Export Gov, Malaysia’s e-commerce sector benefits from the implementation of programs under the National e-commerce Strategic Roadmap’s (NeSR) with the National e-commerce Council (NeCC) on the driver seat.

It comprises of various ministries and agencies with a mission to double Malaysia’s e-commerce growth rate to reach a GDP contribution of US$53 billion by 2020.

With a dynamic economy and ready infrastructure for digital technologies, Malaysia recorded 25 million social media users, 40.24 million mobile subscriptions, and 24 million use social media on their mobile devices per January 2019.

The high numbers directly resulted in Malaysia boasting 16.53 million online shoppers (account for 50 per cent of the population) and 62 per cent of mobile users using their devices to shop online.

Gov further concludes that Malaysian online shoppers are motivated by price advantages, product range, and the availability of reviews. They look for free shipping, convenience, and exclusive deals offered by online stores.

Also Read: These 7 homegrown e-commerces are on track to put Thailand on global map

With that being said, Lazada.com.my and Shopee.com.my come in strong with zero per cent commission and free shipping module and zero per cent transaction fees respectively, which instantly put both on top for online shopping choices among Malaysians.

However, when it comes to local e-commerce startups, these 9 names offer Malaysians a different take on online shopping with their better understanding of the market.

GoShop

GoShop sets different precedence for e-commerce in Malaysia by offering premium and trusted products from categories like beauty, health and wellness, home appliances and kitchenware, living, sports and leisure, digital, and many more.

The startup is based in East Malaysia, with Sabah and Sarawak-concentrated customers. CEO Grace Lee said that the startup has a dedicated warehouse established in East Malaysia since December 2017, as reported in The Borneo Post.

Go Shop, established in 2014, is operated by Astro GS Shop Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between Malaysia’s integrated consumer media group, Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad (60 per cent) and GS Home Shopping Inc (40 per cent). It describes itself as Malaysia’s 24-hour lifestyle shopping destination where products and services are demonstrated, sold on multiple platforms including TV, Astro Go, online e-commerce, and mobile commerce to offer an anytime-anywhere retail experience.

Go Shop believes that its live product demonstration on TV allows for a three-dimensional experience of their products. “Our customers can relate better with the products and how these products suit their lifestyles,” said Lee

Mudah.com

Mudah.com, which means “easy” in Malay, was founded in 2007 as a buy and sell online platform.

Mudah offers a range of diverse categories – from cars, electronics, properties, jobs, sports, collectibles, toys, books, and computers, amongst many others.

Recently, under the leadership of CEO Gaurav Bhasin, Mudah entered into a partnership with Lendela, a Singapore-based loan comparison company, allowing the latter to offer their services on the Mudah’s platform. According to Fintech News Malaysia, the partnership allows Mudah’s customers to apply for loans directly on Mudah and to bring more transparency and ease-of-use to borrowers while reducing risk and cost for lenders.

Lelong

Lelong has been around since 1998, making it one of the few firsts that spotted the e-commerce potential in Malaysia. It is a C2C platform that allows users to sell and purchase second-hand items.

Founded by Tan and Kwok Wei and headquartered in Selangor, it offers products from gadgets to fashion and accessories in an online auction marketplace approach. Lelong, alongside Lmall.my, is operating under its parent company Interbase Resources, which also manages online marketplace Superbuy.my and e-payment platform Netpay.my.

Just last year, Lelong announced that it has acquired digital marketing agency Mataris Agency for an undisclosed sum.

i-Pmart

Founded in 2001, i-Pmart belongs to the i-Pmart Group of Companies. It focusses mainly on the international market since 2005, selling mobile phones and electronic parts online.

It is the holder of ‘MSC status’ in Malaysia, which makes it a part of the country’s ‘Multimedia Super Corridor’ initiative to promote Malaysia as a regional center for world-class technology businesses.

Also Read: Key challenges and opportunities in Malaysia’s e-commerce scene

i-Pmart was founded by its CEO Mart Tang, and it just recently added bitcoin to the list of accepted payment methods to provide the option for its worldwide shipping to China and US, Coindesk has learned.

i-Pmart is also a big seller of litecoin mining equipment, selling GPU-based rigs both to advanced users to self-assemble with the ‘Savvy Pack’, and a ‘Newbie Pack’ for beginners that includes the option to have i-Pmart assemble, host, and even operate the hardware for them.

Zilzar

With the online halal (permissible, lawful for Muslims) industry on the rise with an estimated US$1.6 trillion worth in 2018 and Malaysia with one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, an e-commerce that ensures this is poised to succeed.

Zilzar was founded by the Malaysian prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, at the World Islamic Economic Forum. The name means an earthquake in Arabic, as shown in an article by The Guardian.

Zilzar offers a platform for businesses and consumers to sell halal products and services to each other with entrepreneurs as its core market.

Consumers on Zilzar are allowed to trade products from prayer beads and electronic Qurans to hijabs and films. All its sellers and products are verified by certification bodies around the world.
Its chief executive Rushdi Siddiqui said that Zilzar is going after Alibaba’s suppliers.

“Technology is a great equaliser. Aid has not helped Muslims in emerging markets and Zilzar was trying to feed them; now it’s time to teach them to fish,” said Siddiqui.

Halal products should not contain alcohol or pork traces or promote gambling.

FashionValet

Online fashion and beauty retailer FashionValet emerges as a frontrunner when it comes to the local success story.

FashionValet carries over 200 brands and 10,000 products from fashion designers and celebrity brands in Southeast Asia.

The company was founded in 2010 by local celebrity Vivy Yusof and Fadzarudin Shah Anuar, offering a wide range of ready-to-wear garments for women, accessories, and handbags. It works by offering a simplified shopping experience and a customer service team to assist online shoppers.

In 2016, FashionValet raised Series B round financing from Start Today Co., owner of Japan’s leading online fashion mall ZOZOTOWN.

Hermo

Focussing on selling Korean cosmetics online for Malaysia consumers, Hermo was founded in 2012 by Ian Chua and PS Chong, who is the VP of Merchandise, before adding Ian Mok a year later as its current COO. The company is based in Johor Bahru.

Inspired by the hassle women around them have to go through to pick out beauty products, Hermo was born.

The first funding Hermo raised was a seed and angel financing from Singaporean investment firm Crystal Horse Investments and Malaysian angel investor Tan Swee Yeong. In 2015, it secured a US$2 million Series A round led by Gobi Partners.

Also Read: 6 Singapore-bred e-commerces that tread ahead among fierce competitions

However, in 2017, Gobi Partners announced that it has sold its stake in Hermo to Tokyo-listed istyle inc, a market design company that operates the Japanese cosmetics e-commerce site Cosme.com.

Gobi said it sold its stake because of istyle’s ability to build international companies and its positioning in North Asia, something that Hermo wants to do.

HiShop

Also offering health and beauty products, HiShop is Hermo’s local competition. The company stated on its official site that it guarantees direct sourcing from the official brand distributors.

HiShop works with beauty advisors, seeking to give access to customers’ beauty choices and decisions. It also has built a beauty community that offers privileges such as rewards and exclusive beauty events invite.

Poplook

Another local online fashion startup is Poplook, modest wear-focussed e-commerce. It offers workwear, maternity, plus-size, children wear and, more.

Poplook was founded in 2009 as an online-only fashion label but has since expanded into the brick-and-mortar market with two physical stores in the Klang Valley.

According to Star2, Poplook, which recently showed its collection at the 2019 Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, believes that what they offer is also a way to embrace the Malaysian culture of helping others and growing together.

Nine local players, multifaceted product categories offered. Although Lazada and Shopee remain monopolising the market, the presence of the local players excites the monotone market.

It’s sure still a long way before the local startups can catch up to be in the same caliber of the international e-commerce players, but the journey to get there is a learning curve on its own for the watching eyes, especially after an ambitious mission for investing more in tech by Malaysia’s Oil and gas company Petronas setting up a US$350 million venture capital fund to invest in technology startups around the world.


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