Has the MCO changed the way Malaysians shop?


The online shopping habits of Malaysians changed during the movement control order (MCO). Photos: Filepic

The online shopping habits of Malaysians changed during the movement control order (MCO), according to data from international logistics company Buyandship.

Before the MCO, things like baby items (especially clothes), men’s and women’s clothing, and toys and games were the top three products purchased by Malaysians online. These products comprise 70% of all shipments into Malaysia, Buyandship chief executive officer Wilson Chan reveals.

But, during the MCO, these products reduced to 60% of all shipments into the country.

Instead, there has been a growth in luxury beauty items purchased by Malaysians online, which increased by 61%. While luxury beauty items used to make up 6% of all shipments before the MCO, they now make up 12% of all shipments.

There has also been a noticeable growth in men’s grooming, and kitchen and dining related items.

“Cross-border online shopping (or buying products across international borders, such as a shopper living in Malaysia buying from a retailer based in the United States, should be as easy as buying locally, ” Chan says.

“Shoppers should also be able to benefit from buying overseas, such as enjoy lower prices and get access to items which are not available in their home country, ” he adds.

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Online shoppers were buying more from retailers in this region rather than from the US or Britain. FilepicOnline shoppers were buying more from retailers in this region rather than from the US or Britain. Filepic

But, Chan admits that online shoppers may be deterred from buying overseas because of factors such as logistics, cost, customs, taxes, information transfer or language (site is in a foreign language).

Buyandship is a platform that connects e-merchants to online shoppers anywhere in the world. It acts as a platform for shoppers to purchase items from retailers that don’t ship to Malaysia.

Data from the logistics company also revealed the popular international e-retailers that Malaysians are visiting during the MCO: eBay, Sephora, Amazon, Asda, The Children’s Place and Carter’s.

While the average amount that shoppers buy online hasn’t changed much, remaining at around RM120 per order/tracking number, there has been a change in the countries they buy from, Chan says.

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While the average amount that shoppers spend online hasn’t changed much, there has been a change in the countries they buy from. Photo: BuyandshipWhile the average amount that shoppers spend online hasn’t changed much, there has been a change in the countries they buy from. Photo: Buyandship

Before the MCO, United States and United Kingdom were popular online shopping destinations, with 86% of the parcel forwarding services into Malaysia being shipped from there. But after the MCO was announced, the figure dropped to 81% when Malaysians started to shop more at Asia-Pacific based e-retailers.

The reason given is because the transit times from the US and UK are now longer due to limited flights and people wanted to get their items faster so they looked for merchants closer to home.

Data also showed that 35% of the respondents said they spent less due to “a couple of uncertainties” while 33% said their online shopping habits “didn’t change a lot”.

The logistics company is also doing its part to address the global mask shortage during the pandemic by sourcing and shipping FDA-approved masks, including surgical and N95 masks, globally.

“These masks are for state and federal governments in the US, Europe, and Asia, as well as healthcare systems and philanthropic organisations, ” Chan says. “Although sourcing is not part of our business, we realised we had the network and logistic capacity to help address this global mask shortage.”

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