Go online to boost sales

Sim (right) giving away face masks to a shopkeeper at the Taman Lip Sin market in Bayan Lepas.

LOCAL brands and mom-and-pop stores should promote their products online so that more Malaysians can support them and indirectly boost the local economy.

Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin said these neighbourhood stores should take the initiative to go online, especially during the movement control order (MCO), when people are cautious about going out to shop for necessities.

He said during the MCO, some of the mom-and-pop stores saw an 80% drop in their business while some even closed down.

“After the situation improved, some were able to recover by between 50% and 70% but they are still struggling to achieve better sales, ” he said after a visit to the Taman Lip Sin market in Bayan Lepas, Penang, to distribute face masks to traders and market-goers.

Sim said Malaysians should change their mindset of buying products online from foreign- owned websites and instead get their items from local stores.

“There is already some awareness at mom-and-pop stores about the benefits of going online but we are trying to encourage more hawkers and traders to adopt this concept, ” he said.

Sundry items trader Khaw Hooi Kee, 36, who has been in business at the market for about 20 years, said she uses a food delivery service to sell to her customers online.

“I enjoyed good business during the MCO as most of my customers placed orders online, but now, only those undergoing self-quarantine or who really cannot come out make orders online. The others still prefer to walk in, ” she said.

Loh Swee Hean, 55, who sells groceries and titbits, said she has been selling her products online since the start of the MCO in March.

“At that time, I got orders daily but now, I only get one or two online orders in a day because people want to come to the store to physically see and choose the things they want to buy, ” she added.

The Star has also taken efforts to help local businesses promote themselves.

In August, Star Media Group Berhad (SMG) started dedicated Delivery Services pages across all its platforms from print to digital to enable SMEs to connect with their clients.

Following the success of the initiative, it is now spinning it off into the new portal branded BeliLokal.

SMG chief business officer Lydia Wang said it was about spurring the local economy and supporting local SMEs.

“Due to this crisis, our nation’s businesses are struggling to stay afloat and are in need of help, now more than ever.

“It’s time for us to come together as a nation to support each other in any way we can, ” she said.

The portal, with its core centred on supporting local businesses in a fun and young way, takes a ‘hyper-localised’ approach to make it easy to use and relatable to Malaysians.

A platform for Malaysians made by Malaysians, BeliLokal has a significant advantage as it is backed by the nation’s top media group, which currently reaches an audience of more than 24 million with its media platforms across digital, newspaper, radio and over-the-top advertising covering three languages (Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin).

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