Small firms shine in digital upsurge

“We are seeing an increase in multi-channel businesses, demand for flexible labour and delivery orders, ’’ said GoGet co-founder Francesca Chia, who was formerly a management consultant.

SOME small firms that took the digital plunge and risked those start-up years, are now reaping the benefits as this killer virus forces people to stay at home.

While e-commerce giants like Alibaba and Amazon register hefty gains in volume, these young Malaysian technopreneurs are wasting no time in tapping further opportunities.

Seeing a significant increase in their business, they are expanding their services, delivery and sales force, technology and training teams as well as the pool of skill sets.

Already growing by leaps and bounds since 2014 on demand workforce platform GoGet now sees a “big push” from late adopters onto the platform.

“We are seeing an increase in multi-channel businesses, demand for flexible labour and delivery orders, ’’ said GoGet co-founder Francesca Chia, who was formerly a management consultant.

Since 2014, the user base for GoGet has reached 250,000; annualised revenue has grown by 50 times since August 2016; from 2017, the total number of transactions per month has increased by 10 times.

Future plans for GoGet include diversifying the types of services and skills for the flexible labour platform, developing new areas to increase the user base, and creating ways for customers on the GoGet platform to achieve multi channels of revenue.

The uptrend in digital online sales will likely sustain; smaller firms with the resources will be able to ride on this wave and capture domestic as well as cross border sales, said RHB Research Institute chief Asean economist Peck Boon Soon.

Those who cannot embrace this new trend will likely be forced out of business.

In the first quarter since the movement control order, gross merchandise volume has surged by 149% year-on-year, said Commerce.Asia, an e-commerce ecosystem of technology and big data solutions.

Retail e-commerce sales globally, which amounted to US$3.53 trillion in 2019, is projected to hit US$6.54 trillion by 2023, said Statista, a German online portal for statistics.

In the new era of digitalisation, there will be no more rosy designs, big premises or paper advertising; retailers will look for e-commerce and fiat money will be challenged by e-payments and e-wallets, said Areca Capital CEO Danny Wong.

To cope with the increased demand for digital transformation, enterprise resource planning solutions provider Wavelet Solutions will speed up hiring of eight to 12 more staff, on top of 100 currently, and take bank loans to boost its working capital.

“We are looking mainly for talent in software development as most of the candidates with or without experience are not yet acquainted with the latest cloud native architecture, it is more important for us to look for those who can learn fast, ’’ said Wavelet CEO Vincent Lee.

The iServe group, which has a merchant base of 30,000 and more than a million customers, has seen a 15% to 20% increase in merchant acquisitions and transaction volumes for its virtual mobile terminal called UPayMe.

“We hope to raise this by a further 15% to 20% once our sales force (10 to 15 more on top of 30 currently) and head counts in other divisions that include information technology, customer support and training, are increased, ’’ said iServe chief sales officer Nelson Khoo.

To tap further into the digital payment wave, the group will also expand the payment acceptance capabilities of its mobile wallet product, Zapp e-Wallet.

“We are building capabilities to expand e-commerce acceptance, as less than 10% of e-commerce payments is on e-wallet, ’’ said iServe chief marketing officer Rosalie Ng.

There will be a compressed timeframe in adopting digitalisation post Covid-19; the retooling of business models will be accelerated to deliver goods and services via digital tools, said Socio Economic Research Center executive director Lee Heng Guie.

And eventually, people will settle into a routine revolving around services in the digital space, just like in China where information transmission, software and information technology services increased by 13.2% despite the plunge in growth in the first quarter.

Columnist Yap Leng Kuen is wary of a possible second wave of virus attack. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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