KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian mall group operator Sunway Malls has raised the benchmark by completing its physical and digital mall presence with the rollout of its e-commerce platform – Sunway eMall.com on Oct 27.
Sunway Malls has seven physical malls and the e-commerce push is part of the mall group’s strategic digitalisation effort to complete its physical and digital mall presence.
“This comes at a time when online traction has gathered speed due to Covid-19,” it said in a statement on Monday.
It pointed out that since the pandemic began, an estimated 70 million more people have transited to shop online in six Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, according to a report from Facebook and Bain & Company.
As reported in CNBC, Facebook and Bain & Company further projected that average online spending will grow 60% this year from US$238 (RM990) per person in 2020 to US$381 (RM1,585) per digital consumer.
Meanwhile, online retail’s share of overall retail surged in Southeast Asia from 5% in 2020 to 9% in 2021.
Sunway Malls said the reports showed that over the next five years, Southeast Asia’s ecommerce sales is also projected to keep pace, growing at 14% per year with online shoppers forecasted to reach 380 million by 2026.
Given the immense potential, the Sunway Malls’ ecommerce initiative comes timely to grow the Malaysian mall group’ footprint to a larger market beyond its physical malls’ catchment areas.
HC Chan, CEO of Sunway Malls & Theme Park (pic, below) said: “Certainly the venture into digital place opens up new markets and possibilities for Sunway Malls. We are not time and geographical bound.
“Sunway eMall will complement our current combined 4.5 million sqft of physical retail space of seven malls. It amalgamates our seven physical malls presence into one digital mall. Through this exercise, Sunway Malls portfolio has also grown to eight malls – physically and digitally.”
An initial 200 merchants covering various trade categories such as fashion, home & living, beauty, health & wellness, food & beverage e-vouchers and others are on board with 30,000 SKUs.
The list of participating merchants includes Sony, Huawei, Sketchers, Li Ning, Braun Buffel, Aldo, L’Occitane, Christy Ng, Hooga and more. Sunway eMall projects to grow this to 500 merchants with 100,000 SKUs over the next 18 months.
The official launch of Sunway eMall will also enable Sunway Malls to offer an offline-to-online-to-offline (O2O) journey with the convergence of both online and offline shopping experiences.
It supports the mall group operator to switch seamlessly between these twodomains in a more effortless manner and to offer the best of both worlds.
“Additionally, what separates pure e-commerce players is the option for in-store collection apart from delivery, which is a further catalyst in driving more footfall into our malls. We see a great upside to this,” Chan said.
Apart from completing the physical- digital mall presence, the mall group is eyeing the e-commerce platform as an insurance and contingency against unforeseen geographical or retail sub-sectors lockdown.
“What we had witnessed over the last 20 months was the unpredictability of how such lockdown can be – its suddenness and its duration which is very disruptive. For the record, the retail industry faced 153 days of closure in 2021 relative to 47 days of closure in 2020.
“Sunway eMall will allow retailers some form of business continuity if this ever happen again,” Chan said.
In other development, the group’s physical malls also showed signs of good recovery with the complete reopening of the retail sector.
As of October 2021, preliminary indicators have shown 80% traffic normality compared to the same pre-pandemic period of 2019, with shoppers making a strong return to Sunway Malls in the beginning of 4Q2021.
The number is expected to pick up pace heading nearer to the year-end festivity.
Sunway Malls was upbeat its recovery can be sustained as Malaysia prepares to move from pandemic to endemic with the full compliance of safety protocols. It expects attaining full pre-pandemic level performance in the near term