Asian firms must embrace new digital wave
Asian companies that have set the global pace in e-commerce retailing must embrace a fresh wave of digital change if they are to hold on to cost-conscious customers who have become more mobile.
With an increasing will to purchase products online and mobile shopping’s rapid growth, HSBC Malaysia said the challenge now is how to enhance customer experience for a brand’s most loyal followers and bring new buyers into the fold.
The retailers also have to minimise risks associated with an ever-more international supply chain, it said in a statement.
Head of Commercial Banking Mahbub Ur Rahman said the digital trend is not just about establishing brand presence and pushing products online, but must also involve daily social media engagement that delivers interesting and relevant content to customers.
“The market dynamics have undoubtedly changed, but the basic principles of retail remain the same. Brands must identify potential customers, engage them and ultimately complete a sale.
“The retailers need to use technology to better understand their product sales cycles and how to maximise margins made thinner by rampant e-commerce competition,” he said, adding, it is the only way to retain existing customers while gaining new ones.
Malaysian consumer sentiment ends 2015 flat
Malaysian consumer confidence ended 2015 on a subdued note with the index up two points from the third quarter to 80 percentage points, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.
Nielsen said Malaysia was now ranked the 36th most confident country globally in the fourth quarter (Q4) 2015, up seven spots from the previous quarter.
It said average global consumer confidence had remained at the all-time low recorded in Q3 with just a small gain in Q4.
“This is not a surprise as nothing has really changed in terms of the economic or political environment with oil prices continuing to drop, the ringgit weak and concerns over job security still lingering,” said country manager, Richard Hall.
The survey involved 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 60 countries.
It said although the economy remained a key concern with Malaysian consumers, with half of respondents being worried about the nation’s financial status (50% vs 61% in previous quarter), a quarter said job security was now the second most worrying (25% vs 18%).
It also said Malaysian consumers continued to be prudent in their spending habits with eight out of 10 having changed it in the last 12 months to save on household expenses (84%).
“There are still lingering effects from the introduction of the GST in consumers’ minds. They believe the impact of the consumption tax is far greater on their spending power than the inflation data suggests.
“This effect will lessen this year and be fully out of the system by June,” said Hall.
Miti to help 646,000 SMEs compete under TPPA
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) will assist some 646,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country to compete in a more open market under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Deputy Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said this would be implemented comprehensively within two years with the cooperation of all agencies under the ministry before the agreement is fully implemented.
“All SMEs in the nation still have another two years to prepare to face TPPA... at the very least, we will strengthen the capacity through training to make them more competitive and viable.
He said the ministry had various agencies that are experienced to help the SMEs penetrate the overseas market more effectively after the TPPA is implemented in 2018.
For example, he said, MITI via the 46 offices of Matrade (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation) and 22 offices of Mida (Malaysian Investment Development Authority) in foreign countries could help the companies to promote their products internationally.
Ahmad said their products would also be promoted online via a special website that would be created for each country participating in the TPPA.