PETALING JAYA: Malaysians have flocked to online media outlets for news and information ever since the Movement Control Order (MCO) started on March 18 with The Star Online experiencing huge growth in traffic.
A study by the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA) and SimilarWeb showed desktop and mobile web traffic surged during the third week of March, evidenced by sequential year-on-year growth rates.
Sequential traffic surged between 190% and 250% during the rolling seven-day period in the third week of March for eight key publisher platforms.
The Star Online was among the top English news portals which registered the highest spikes in page visits during the MCO.
According to SimilarWeb statistics, The Star Online in the month of March achieved an all time high unique visits of 20 million, and this number continues to grow. Compared with other news portals that have seen large growth numbers, the base of online traffic to Star Online is three times larger than others.
“The huge swell in the third week of March 2020 by far has outstripped the growth in traffic to media properties earlier in the first quarter, which largely arose from interest in the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government and ascent of the Perikatan government, ” said MDA.
Besides that, demand for entertainment swung up with streaming video consumption rising as curbs on movement kept people indoors.
Visits to homegrown video subscription service dimsum entertainment increased by 140%.
The increase in traffic to dimsum entertainment dwarfs what rival site ifix has seen in sequential traffic in March on a rolling seven-day basis, which is estimated to be in the 20-percentage point range.
The MCO commenced at midnight on March 18 and has been extended by an additional two weeks to end on April 14.
Using January as a base, the MDA and SimilarWeb report compares year-on-year change for February, the first half of March and a rolling seven-day period (from March 15 to 21) to chart traffic growth.
Since the implementation of the MCO, grocery services too have enjoyed a surge in traffic.
The online stores of supermarket chains such as Tesco, Mydin, Jaya Grocer and grocery delivery service HappyFresh saw the largest jumps in sequential traffic in the third week of March, with traffic growth up by 600%, compared to the first two weeks of March.
Online traffic to hypermarket chain Mydin grew more than 540% in sequential traffic, while Tesco’s online visits rose by more than 450%.
In Tesco Malaysia’s case, it has since imposed a temporary quantity limit to a maximum of three units of each item on Tesco Online purchases to maintain efficiency in delivering and serving customers. Delivery slots for Tesco Online is almost maximised, and Tesco Malaysia is working on opening more new slots for the weeks to come.
According to Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd (Mydin) managing director Datuk Wira Dr Ameer Ali Mydin, while there has been a surge in demand for Mydin’s online grocery delivery services, the hypermarket chain is struggling with capacity constraints.
“The capacity to support online grocery delivery, such as manpower and system, cannot be built immediately.
“It is good to have this surge in online sales, but we lack the capacity to meet all delivery demands at present, ” he said.
Mydin retails its products online on both its Mydin website as well as marketplace platforms like Shopee.
Additionally, Mydin has experienced lower sales from its food and beverage (F&B) customers.
Most F&B customers have decided to shutter operations throughout the MCO, given that the overhead costs exceed sales, with some only recording 15% to 20% of their usual sales. Ameer also addressed the misconception that hypermarkets are experiencing booming sales during the MCO period.
“The long queues seen at our retail stores are due to social distancing practices.
“It is just the frequency of visits which have changed due to the MCO. Instead of shopping for groceries twice a week, the customer gets the week’s supply in one visit.
“If they buy more today, they will buy less tomorrow. After all, there is only so much of essential goods that can be consumed, ” he explained.