Embracing change for growth

Start small: Ameer Ali has advised SMEs to start small with their e-business initiatives.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should not fear failure in undertaking e-business, as it is an easy and fast way to start selling products and services online.

That said, Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Wira Ameer Ali Mydin said that SMEs should start small and go slow with their e-business initiatives, instead of fearing change.

“It’s a massive and very crowded market, but anyone can do business online. That’s the selling point. Chances are that you’ll fail, but it’s okay to fail. That’s why you need to start small, so if you fail, at least it won’t be a big loss.”

“Change is difficult and old habits are hard to break, so you have to force the change if you really want to do it. Take it slow unless you have deep pockets, ” he said, adding that aspects such as packaging, marketing and brand value are essential to creating successful online businesses.

The retail veteran, who shared Mydin’s experiences in e-business, was speaking to a full house of entrepreneurs at the recent SME Thought Leadership Tea Talk #2, held at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya.

Mydin recently started its online shopping component by launching Mydin Online in conjunction with its 60th anniversary. It is also present on popular shopping platforms and marketplaces.

SMEs must ensure that different online touchpoints are connected for seamless customer journeys, said Kauffman.SMEs must ensure that different online touchpoints are connected for seamless customer journeys, said Kauffman.

In addition, while online commerce has transformed consumer behaviour and the way of doing business in the retail industry, the only difference is changing consumer behaviour.

“It’s much easier and faster to do business online, but I believe that brick-and-mortar businesses will not close down. Both will coexist. The only difference is in the way people shop.

“If you think about it, online businesses are trying to emulate the offline shopping experience, but physical shops have the opportunity to give better experiences to their customers. Despite all the technological changes, I don’t think that it can replicate the experience, ” he opined.

In addition, businesses must also remember to retain their focus on the customer experience.

He said, “At the end of the day, the essence of business will not change. It’s the experience that keeps customers coming back.”

During the event, Shopmatic chief product officer Roberto Kauffman also imparted advice for SMEs in managing both their online and offline business operations for growth and impact.

Opportunities online are aplenty, but he pointed out that it takes time and effort to show results.

“You first need to invest money to see growth. It doesn’t happen overnight and takes effort and hard work.

“E-business is really all about interacting with customers online and ensuring that different touchpoints are connected for customers to experience a seamless journey, ” he said, adding that SMEs should not give up easily.

More importantly, Kauffman stressed the need to set clear goals for e-commerce and said, “Be clear on what you want to achieve, because that drives what you’re going to do online and how you’re going to market it.”

Titled Why You Need to Embark on E-Business Today, the half-day event was aimed at raising awareness on e-commerce and the best ways for SMEs to capitalise on technology to thrive and remain competitive.

Created as a platform for dialogue and learning within the business fraternity, the SME Thought Leadership series is aimed at dissecting emerging business issues and identifying opportunities that can be leveraged to grow businesses.

The SME Thought Leadership 2019 series is organised by Star Media Group and presented by CIMB Bank Bhd.

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