Digitalising the least digital

YEAR 2020 has been an unprecedented year.

Overnight, our lives took a 180-degree turn, and as a country we have embraced the Malaysian spirit and confronted Covid-19 together.

As a platform, Grab Malaysia was also significantly impacted at the onset of the movement control order (MCO) in March. Demand for rides declined significantly, affecting income for more than 100,000 driver-partners, while delivery capacity was severely stretched. Fortunately, Grab was able to pivot its drivers to support its delivery service while investing crucially in Covid-19 safety and protection measures.

“It was also a make-or-break year economically for all businesses, especially for small and traditional businesses. We’ve heard from many micro-SMEs (MSME) about the significant challenges they have faced in navigating the shift to social and digital channels, while dealing with the logistical challenges due to the pandemic.

“As a homegrown tech enabler, we saw the urgency for us to extend our expertise to address this fundamental gap while ensuring our delivery network had the appropriate safety requirements such as masks and sanitisers as well as fulfilling contactless deliveries.

“We enabled thousands of small traditional merchants to transition their business online, be it for delivery on GrabFood, GrabMart, GrabExpress or to receive digital and online payments via GrabPay.

“We also launched a variety of initiatives for MSMEs, such as the Small Biz Relief Fund, Support Local Heroes marketing campaign, and introduced Pasar on GrabMart,” said Grab Malaysia commercial head J.J. Tan.

Grab’s latest launch was FoodCourts on GrabFood where over 1,000 small hawkers stall businesses nationwide came on board.

These programmes are aimed at providing additional online visibility and onboarding support whilst increasing demand for small and traditional businesses, who might have significantly less resources compared to larger businesses.

Success stories

Among the merchants who underwent digitalisation under Grab was Rosaline Ong, owner of Lizar Chilli. Ong has been selling ready-to-cook pastes and marinades from the same market stall in Pasar Besar TTDI in Kuala Lumpur for the last three decades. MCO affected her stores’ operation hours and footfall so she decided to go digital online via GrabMart.

Rosiah Abi Asri, who sells local delicacies such as nasi kukus ayam berempah and sup bihun, transformed her business model completely when she became one of the 133 bazar vendors of Grab Ramadan eKitchen.

However, getting the likes of Ong and Rosiah to embrace the digital economy is just half the battle won. Most of the merchants tend to keep away from digitisation as they are unsure on how to further grow on digital platforms.

As such, Grab introduced a holistic suite of tools designed to attract more merchants, especially MSMEs, to the digital ecosystem.

Self-serve merchant platform

Grab’s newly revamped merchant platform gives merchants more autonomy to manage their online store. This includes updating their menu, adding latest promotions and features to better manage operational issues such as marking an inventory out-of-stock. Merchants can now have access to their personalised menu insights to further optimise and enhance their menus using data.

Merchant resource portals

The Grab Merchant Blog and Grab Merchant Academy portal house the latest business updates as well as how-to videos for business owners to improve their operations by using Grab’s new features.

Merchant community sessions

Merchant engagements and community sessions via webinars to share general business updates.

Merchant discovery on the Grab app

Similar to driving demand for online merchants, Grab’s all-new Merchant Nearby feature in the Grab app indicates businesses nearby that accept GrabPay as a payment method. This increases their visibility and drives more foot traffic to their physical stores. Merchants can also push customised promotions to their loyal customers and encourage more spending. Grab has listed thousands of merchants since introducing this feature.

Enabling hearing-impaired merchants

To provide for all merchant partners, Grab has a customised GrabForGood merchant starter kit for the hearing-impaired which includes a wristband that vibrates to indicate an incoming order, whilst the standard device has a ringing tone.

“The trust by our merchants amplifies our long-term commitment to digitalise more small and traditional businesses to ensure that they are included in the growing digital economy.

“We want to continue engaging with them and working with agencies like MDEC in their initiatives like #SayaDigital to find innovative ways through technology to support and uplift more local businesses.

“We continuously improve to better serve our customers and to partner our merchants better. As we come together as a nation in the new year, we will do our part to make sure no one is left behind in the digital wave,” said Tan.

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