Moving forward with social commerce

Teh says social commerce is very sustainable and the concept is here to stay.Teh says social commerce is very sustainable and the concept is here to stay.

KEEN to be an innovative social commerce entrepreneur and explore possibilities to be successful in the retail world?

Social commerce, which is considered part of e-commerce, involves activities relating to buying and selling of products and services online through social media platforms and messaging systems.

“If you solicit sales via social media like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube, then you are a social commerce entrepreneur.

“If you chat first and then buy later, it is social commerce,” said moderator and iPay88 innovative partnership and relationship head Johnny Chong, when introducing the “Capitalising on Social Commerce – The Future of E-commerce” topic at a webinar.

Organised by Star Media Group, the webinar was supported by on-demand delivery service provider Lalamove.

On the evolution of social commerce, Lalamove Malaysia managing director Jane Teh said sellers were currently opting for live streams using social media platforms to sell their products and services.

“You are able to place orders via the live sessions.

“There will be more engagement for their customers, such as generating awareness through advertisement and a live demo.

“We are able to shop more carefully and evaluate if we really need this product or service.

“Businesses can create better interaction with their customers via social media, as compared to the standard e-commerce platforms,” she explained.

Teh, who was one of three speakers, said, “Moving forward, there will be API (application programming interface) integration.

“Technology will play a big part in social commerce.

Nur Fatyha Farhana: With social commerce, everything is at the fingertips.Nur Fatyha Farhana: With social commerce, everything is at the fingertips.

“Once social media platforms are more advanced and equipped with more e-commerce capabilities, especially with the growing advancements in technology, voice and augmented reality, it will become the next big thing.

“Social commerce offers a whole different experience for customers to purchase products or services.

“It provides businesses a more interactive channel to engage with existing and potential customers and make it another sales channel, at zero cost, which is an attractive point to SMEs which have budget constraints.”

Teh said Lalamove was supporting businesses by ensuring there were enough drivers in the market to meet peak season sales and festivals.

It has also launched new services and expanded to more areas to fulfil delivery needs and serve more customers.

She said besides helping SMEs reach their customers, Lalamove was eager to empower the B40 group.

Fellow panellist, Carousell Malaysia country head Tang Siew Wai, said there had been a sharp increase in active users on Carousell this year, selling excess items for cash or opting to buy second-hand goods instead of new ones.

Certain sellers were providing special deals, clearance items and free gifts to attract buyers, said Tang.

“We noticed the increase in searches and listing views are concentrated to certain categories such as toys and games, gym equipment, home decor, electronics or gadgets.”

When asked if Carousell was considered social commerce, he said, “We do have elements of social (commerce).

“People don’t buy (items) straightaway. They still ask whether the price is still negotiable, if they buy three items instead of one.”

Asked on scaleability of social commerce, Tang said sellers were able to find ways to sell any item, including in bulk, but it would depend on how they positioned themselves in the industry.

Tang: There has been a sharp increase in active users on Carousell this year.Tang: There has been a sharp increase in active users on Carousell this year.

“There are people who come to Carousell to compare prices, or are willing to offer certain items at prices similar to those given during peak sales and encourage buyers to buy more,” he added.

A recent study from Bain & Co revealed that Malaysia leads the South-East Asia region with the highest percentage of digital consumers (88% or 22 million people), with 90% of consumers expected to go digital by the year end.

Tang said the study showed that there was a continued accelerated adoption of online as a shopping channel with 46% using it as a primary purchase channel.

“We feel that social commerce will evolve rapidly as there is a need to participate in circular economy through recommerce (buying and selling of pre-owned goods) to unlock sustainable consumption,” he said.

Fellow speaker, online plant shop Berrykinn Enterprise founder Nur Fatyha Farhana Badrul Hisham, 21, said many entrepreneurs were shifting to online businesses for the flexible working hours and freedom it offered.

“I can be anywhere, anytime.

“I could be at the shopping mall and still text customers on their queries,” she said, adding that she would use Instagram and Facebook which were linked to the shop’s website to promote its products.

“We create a good relationship with our customers to understand their needs and preferences.

“We also give tips on caring for the plants and have promotions such as the 11.11 sales.

“If the plant is damaged when received by customers, we will replace it,” she said.

Nur Fatyha Farhana started her business with a RM200 capital and zero knowledge.

“My advice is just go for it. The website is not necessary if you’ve just started your business.”

Chong says social commerce entrepreneur and e-commerce are different.Chong says social commerce entrepreneur and e-commerce are different.

In a question-and-answer session on whether Lalamove provides guarantees for damaged goods due to delivery, Teh said insurance packages, depending on value of the items, were available.

On cost-cutting measures for packaging, Tang said sellers could provide options and let buyers have a preference.

On key takeaway messages, Nur Fatyha Farhana said, “Social commerce offers everyone a huge opportunity.

“If you have identified the products you want to sell, the service that you want to provide, start now because you won’t know how it will be like if you don’t do it now.

“With social commerce, everything is at your fingertips.”

Tang’s advice is to adapt to the situation and make the best of it.

“Be flexible. There is no harm in exploring other platforms (for selling).”

Teh added, “Social commerce will turn into a business. With social commerce, you can scale your business fast.

“Engage with trusted partners like logistics partners. You can focus on your core business.

“Social commerce is very sustainable. Social commerce is here to stay.

“Be innovative, explore and constantly optimise.”

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