What is an E-commerce Platform?
An e-commerce platform is considered to be the heart of business all around the world. It is an online software store that connects customers, sellers, and vendors worldwide. An e-commerce platform deploys the needs of the merchants to their own sellers.
An e-commerce platform consists of product pages, transactions, reviews, returns, order fulfillment, and other policies for their customers before purchase. An e-commerce platform serves as a convenient and comprehensive online destination where buyers can access a wide range of products and services from the comfort of their homes.
An e-commerce platform is a content management system or CMS that connects online retailers with customers, allowing them to sell goods and provide remote services.
The Benefits of an Online Store for Small Businesses in Malaysia
Malaysia’s booming economy has made it a competitive player in the e-commerce industry. It is a hub for online retailers and merchants to open small online businesses and incur great profits with minimal costs and effort. Explore the benefits of starting a small business in Malaysia.
Cost-effective: Opening an e-commerce platform is extremely cost-effective and does not incur tons of effort. Unlike physical stores, online stores are much more hassle-free and easily manageable. One can save costs for rental, utility bills, and store furnishing.
In an online store, advertising and marketing are easily scalable and inexpensive. One can use social media platforms to spread the word about their store and let their networks do the rest. Furthermore, an e-commerce platform also reduces the cost of hiring an intermediary who would be responsible for managing business activities.
Availability: An offline store’s major drawback is its lack of availability, as you cannot access it anytime, especially during urgent situations. However, with an e-commerce platform, this concern becomes irrelevant.
An e-commerce platform is available 24X7 since the internet never sleeps. Consumers can constantly browse through the products or services of their choice and make their purchases. However, customer service might not be available late at this hour, but you can also create customized software for your platform to help your customers even during the night. This software would guide your customers with automated replies that might even easily solve their problems.
Insights on customer data: Customer data insights are crucial for analyzing the performance of an e-commerce store. Unlike physical stores, online platforms require customers to register, providing valuable data for improving the customer experience. This data helps understand customer preferences and shopping behavior.
Profit margin: E-commerce platforms offer high-profit margins with round-the-clock sales and efficient transaction processing, leading to increased revenue and long-term business benefits.
Overview of the Malaysian E-commerce Market
Malaysia is one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world. It has a predicted revenue of around 10,187.7 million USD by 2023. It has even gone ahead of Columbia with an expected compound annual growth of 13.6% in the upcoming years. The projected market value with this increased to 16, 982.1 million USD by 2027. This, in turn, has made Malaysia the 31st largest market in the world.
Let’s explore key aspects of the online markets in Malaysia:
Online Retailers in Malaysia
Online retailers have now established their dominance in the Malaysian market. From 2019-2022, the number of online shoppers has substantially increased by 31% due to the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though most of the activities have resumed to a normal schedule, online retail continues to thrive as a vital component of Malaysia’s economy.
Monthly visits to online retailers in Malaysia
With the increase in popularity of online retail, monthly visits to online retail stores have also increased. Statista has investigated that in the first quarter of 2022, the e-commerce platform Shopee had around 55 million visitors. On the other hand, Statista has also uncovered that the e-commerce platform Zalora also had an approximate traffic of 1.25 million in the second quarter of 2022.
Popularity of mobile devices and digital payments in Malaysia
E-commerce platforms have now substantially taken over the Malaysian economy. Consumers prefer mobile for online retail, which is easily accessible. Statista has uncovered that online transactions and digital payments will reach around 22.23 billion USD by the end of 2023. This would also impact the annual growth rate of 17.6% by the end of 2027.
Foreign companies operating in the Malaysia e-commerce market
International traders are now attracted to Malaysia’s flourishing e-commerce market, which has substantially increased the growth by 80%. Now, China, Japan, Singapore, and the United States contribute greatly to the foreign market revenue of Malaysia. According to the International Trade Organization, the preferred transaction mode for foreign companies is credit cards.
Choosing the Right Platform for Your Small Business in Malaysia
Selecting the appropriate business platform is crucial when embarking on a new business venture in Malaysia. Whether it’s an online or offline platform, entrepreneurs need to determine which one will yield the highest profitability.
In the case of an online platform, let’s look into these pointers to make an informed decision to develop a robust e-commerce platform tailored to the Malaysian market.
Transaction fees and payment options
Having proper online payment options for an e-commerce platform is a long way to go. While setting up an online store in Malaysia, make sure that your platform accepts international as well as local payments. The platform must also sustain credit card payments, which would help in business turnover.
Range of products & categories
Electronic gadgets and fashion items are now in high demand in Malaysia. Maximum online retail stores sell these products, providing entrepreneurs with incredible profit margins. Before setting up your business, you must be aware of the products that are currently “trending” in the market and sell those products accordingly. Once you get to know about these products, categorize them efficiently. This would show your potential customers that you are giving them several options before making a choice.
International brands & target audience
Understanding your target audience and the presence of international brands in Malaysia is crucial. Make sure the products you offer align with customer preferences and needs. Be aware of your competition and adapt to the market accordingly to stay competitive.
Search engine optimization (SEO) & User interface (UI)
SEO is crucial for any e-commerce platform. It improves website visibility, attracts traffic, and generates high profits. SEO has the expertise to pull new people onto your website and helps to popularize your website as well.
User Interface or UI, on the other hand, is the page that opens when the website loads. The UI should be simple and not complicated at all to save time for the shoppers. It should also be easily accessible from mobile devices to help the users to access the website easily.
Lifestyle products & plug-ins
Lifestyle products are an essential need for every household. Be it a Malaysian e-commerce platform or any other, lifestyle products are always in great demand. The need for lifestyle products does not succumb seasonally and is essential throughout the year.
Plug-ins, on the other hand, play a vital role in any e-commerce platform. Plug-ins help in enhancing the features and functions of the website. It also aims to improve the overall aesthetic of the e-commerce platform, which makes your e-commerce platform much more accessible.
The Best E-commerce Platforms
E-commerce platforms are known for their unique business model, enhancing overall business growth. Here we have curated the best e-commerce platforms that are best around the Malaysian market.
If you are an individual seller in Malaysia, Wix is one of the best options for you. It is a user-friendly website builder that helps offer customized templates and web hosting opportunities alongside a unique domain name. Wix helps build your website for free; however, you can upgrade to its premium features and access its e-commerce tips and tricks that cater specifically to the Malaysian market.
For entrepreneurs or businesses collaborating with large companies in Malaysia, BigCommerce is a viable option. This e-commerce platform is primarily accessed by enterprise-level software companies. The platform offers both customization options as well as web-hosting features.
BigCommerce is known for its insightful SEO tools, customization options, and multichannel selling over social media. However, it lacks an immense amount of flexibility. The design options are not user-friendly, and the themes used for a website might even seem costly. Besides that, BigCommerce is known in Malaysia for its business management abilities and for enabling multiple payment options.
- Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)
If your business in Malaysia has PHP programming experience, Adobe Commerce is the right choice for you. It is a non-hosted e-commerce platform made solely for developers. Adobe Commerce provides developers with a scope of customization that is lacking in other platforms.
Even though Adobe Commerce poses immense complexity and costs, it helps in tailoring the website from scratch and customizing it according to the business needs. Adobe Commerce needs advanced coding development that helps manage and develop an entire infrastructure. Even though Adobe Commerce lacks multi-channel strategies, it is free of cost and easy to start from scratch.
WooCommerce is the ideal platform for optimizing your WordPress business in Malaysia. It is designed to make blogging easier and is traditionally used by content-driven websites. It comes with plenty of plug-ins that make content management easier and more feasible. Other than that, it has an expert community who are always happy to help during any issue.
However, WooCommerce incurs high costs as well. It’s fragile, which makes it difficult to maintain, and since it is not hosted, it is extremely unreliable. It also lacks PCI compliance which can threaten your business in the future.
In Malaysia, PrestaShop is an affordable open-source e-commerce platform that is particularly suitable for beginners, especially those with a technical background. However, it lacks built-in customer support, requiring users to troubleshoot and rely on community assistance.
PrestaShop has amazing business tools like inventory tracking, analytics reporting, international selling, and an online shopping cart. Other than that, PrestaShop is extremely particular about business and user privacy, and you can control your security settings.
Squarespace is the ideal platform for generating high-quality templates with its user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality. It does not require extensive technical knowledge to build a website, making it accessible for businesses in Malaysia.
It is a primary website builder, and you can tweak your designs and enhance your overall e-commerce functionality. However, Squarespace requires time and patience to be set up. Besides, it only has two payment integrations: PayPal and Stripe. If you want to outsource it, it might become very costly, which in turn would incur immense amounts of loss. However, Squarespace is also known for having decent tools for tracking inventory and has high-tiered plans for selling gift cards.
- Big Cartel
Big Cartel is a fully hosted e-commerce platform and website builder tailored for artists and designers in Malaysia. It offers creative customization options, customized templates, marketing tools, and a domain name registration system, making it a seamless solution for artists to set up and run their businesses effectively.
However, Big Cartel has its limitations when the merchant tries to enlist more than five product images. Payment integration options in BigCartel are also very limited, which makes it difficult for the platform to upscale. It is also very costly if you intend to make your business grow.
For small businesses in Malaysia, Weebly is the correct choice. It is a simplistic e-commerce website builder by Square that is best suited for your small business. You do not need technical expertise to access this platform, and it is free of cost. However, Weebly does not offer you to use a domain name unless you buy their premium subscription.
In Malaysia, 3dcart is a suitable option for individuals experienced in e-commerce strategies. It provides a shopping cart solution for physical store owners to sell online. With 3dcart, you can create a mobile-ready storefront with customizable themes, offering a wide range of features and templates that cater to the Malaysian market. Additionally, 3dcart allows integration with third-party applications through its apps and APIs, enhancing the functionality of your online store.
For businesses in Malaysia seeking a user-friendly interface, Volusion is an ideal choice. As one of the oldest e-commerce platforms established in 1999, Volusion remains a relevant option for businesses seeking a straightforward setup. It offers high levels of customization, allowing you to easily create product pages and homepages tailored to the Malaysian market. Additionally, Volusion supports integration with over 30 payment gateways, providing flexibility in accepting payments.
However, Volusion does not have a free plan. Other than physical products, if you are interested in selling ebooks or music, one has to shift to another e-commerce platform.
In Malaysia, OpenCart is the best solution for free e-commerce platforms. It is simple and highly customizable. OpenCart allows you to create and manage multiple stores through a powerful dashboard that enables you to monitor sales metrics specifically tailored to the Malaysian market. It has over 13,000 themes through which you can change and customize your business accordingly. OpenCart also provides plenty of integrations that help to connect the tools easily.
Best for Sales Features
For sales features, one should use Shopify in Malaysia to upscale their business. It helps to expand your business internationally with various expertise in payment integration.
Best for SEO and Marketing
For SEO and marketing, WooCommerce and BigCommerce are highly recommended options. It is directly connected with WordPress plug-ins and helps set up good website traffic.
Best for Multi-channel Selling
For effective multi-channel selling, Wix is an excellent platform to consider. While it is particularly well-suited for individual sellers, Wix offers an impressive multi-channel strategy that can elevate your business. With Wix, you can expand your reach across multiple sales channels, maximizing your potential for growth and success.
Best Value for Money
Volusion is the best option if you are looking for a good platform. It is traditional, with tons of customization options that would help boost your business in no time.
Best for Ease of Use
OpenCart is known for its user-friendly interface and ease of use, making it a popular choice for merchants in Malaysia. Additionally, Volusion also offers a simplified UI that appeals to many merchants seeking a straightforward e-commerce solution.
E-commerce is now the heart of the Malaysian economy. Therefore choosing the correct e-commerce platform in Malaysia is integral to upscale your business. If you are new to it, try and use as many free trials from these above-mentioned websites to reduce costs. Once you have incurred some profit margins, choose to invest in their e-commerce premium policies to upskill yourself and your business.