67% of SMEs adopting digital sales, Maybank survey

KUALA LUMPUR: A Maybank survey of its borrowing SME customers reveals that 67% of the respondents have fully leveraged digital technology into their sales platform during Movement Control Order 3.0 (MCO3.0).

"MCOs and social distancing measures have steered SMEs to re-organise their business models, moving their operations online in order to remain in business and overcome disruptions in supply chains.

"The SMEs have also ventured into various social media platforms such as Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and numerous e-commerce marketplaces," the bank said in Wednesday statement.

It added that the remaining 33% of SMEs were unable to adopt digital technology for a myriad of reasons including the nature of their business being unsuitable to online platforms, a lack of technical knowledge, the cost of implementation, failed attempts to use these platforms, and others.

The Maybank survey undertaken in September and October 2021 was part of a broader exercise undertaken for non-retail and corporate customers in Malaysia, conducted to fully understand how MCO3.0 has impacted SME customers.

At the same time, it aimed to gauge the financial health of these customers and identify any additional assistance that could be rendered to them.

It approached the subject from five categories including financial, technology, business, supply chain and people.

The main respondents were from sectors such as wholesale and retail trade, real estate, manufacturing and construction.

Among other revelations, respondents to the survey said they faced diverse business challenges resulting from the economic disruption with a drop in demand, delay in receivables and shortage or delay in obtaining supplies being the three most common.

Sales were also impacted with 61% experiencing a decrease in sales, 25% reporting no change to sales and 14% recording improved sales.

On workforce management, some 80% of SMEs did not undertake any retrenchment. About 72% of respondents did not exercise salary cuts while the 28% that did cited shorter operating hours as the reason.

The survey also found that 99.6% of the respondents were still operating, although 21.2% had to temporarily close during MCO3.0, while only 0.4% had permanently ceased operations.

"As we continue to support our customers through our financial solutions, the Group simultaneously initiated the Maybank SME survey with the intention to analyse and resolve the pressure points faced by them.

"Since SMEs are the nation’s economic backbone, employing almost half the workforce and contributing close to 40% of Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product, it is critical that we render appropriate assistance – not only through financing but also other areas such as enhancing their digital presence, operational efficiency and so on,” said group CEO of Community Financial Services Maybank Datuk John Chong.
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