THE growth of e-commerce in recent years has, no doubt, given brick-and-mortar businesses a run for their money.
But Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME) chief executive officer Neil Foo believes that online and offline businesses need not have to be enemies.
“Today, you can’t be either-or. You need both the online and offline business. This is part of the ‘new retail’ concept championed by Jack Ma,” he says.
Foo notes that physical stores are increasingly moving online to widen their markets while online businesses are starting to open brick-and-mortar outlets to boost their reputation and build customer confidence in their businesses.
“Don’t see the ‘online or offline’ model as a threat to your business. Not everyone has businesses that include the whole value chain so there is room for online and offline businesses to work together,” he adds.
SAME, along with Federation of Malaysia Chinese Guilds Association (FEMACGA), will be organising the first Asia Retail & O2O Conference and Expo 2017 on Sept 11-12 to encourage small businesses to embrace the change in the retail industry and to spur SMEs to move online.
The expo will also serve as a platform to bring together SMEs and the hypermarket sector to drive the retail industry.
“From our previous experiences, we notice that local SMEs who follow us on overseas trade missions try to bring too many samples and try to sell to direct companies. However, they don’t really know their target audience, the licence requirements, logistics partners and those things.
“So we have invited hypermarkets and online platforms from around the region to this expo to give talks so that SME participants will know what is required of them to supply to supermarkets and hypermarkets in the region. This will also give them access to these hypermarkets as potential buyers,” says Foo.
The panel of speakers include the likes of Taiwan’s shopping mall Breeze Center, Indonesian department store Matahari, Mydin, NSK and e-commerce platforms Zalora and Shopee.
“At the end of the day, what we want to get out of this event is for more SMEs to export. We see this as a good catalyst to help them reach the market outside,” he says.
Foo is targeting 2,000 participants for the expo.
Entry fee for the expo is RM380 per person for Malaysians and US$100 per person for foreign visitors.
There will be some 60 booths at the expo and participants will be able to network with major e-commerce platform providers as well as regional hypermarkets.
The two-day event will be held at Berjaya Times Square Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
For information, visit www.asiaretailo2o.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.