Posts Tagged ‘e-commerce’

Personal shopper services (and the SQ plane fire)

I cannot imagine what it is like to be on a plane that has engine problems and catches fire upon landing. I’m glad everyone (222 passengers, 19 crew) are safe.

I was just taking a long haul flight myself and wondering why they bother showing the safety video, since these days you don’t really find the need for such things (planes disappear; they crash; you rarely hear about how putting on one’s lifejacket saved your life).

As an aside, a lot of the photos (and a video) seem to come from a Ms. Lee Bee Yee, who was presumably flying to Milan to perform “personal shopping” services (she is the proprietor of a site called Premium Mall). A simple search of her name reveals that she’s been 43 for quite sometime! Emerging Trend of Online Retailers Attempting to Evade GST Jan/Feb 2015, Singapore Airlines plane catches fire on Changi Airport runway; no injuries reported. I’m sure there are such “personal shoppers” operating in Malaysia too; I can only imagine what happens when customs catches up.

The Star in Malaysia recently reported that the future might be personal shoppers, in Parkson’s decline a sign of the times for retail stores. The whole article is worth a read, because Malaysia in this respect, seems “backwards” to what is taking much of the retail world by storm (key: nationwide e-commerce needs to rock; too much just focus on the Klang Valley). But the fancy quote for one to think about:

The future wave could be the birth of “personal shoppers” where they shop for others for a fee.

A “personal shopper” acts as a conduit to connect individual purchasers with online websites in other countries such as the United States that do not provide delivery services of their products to this part of the world.

The personal shopper takes down orders, secures an appropriate price and sources for the products in a foreign country. The personal shopper then handles the delivery from the foreign country to the customer.

And it is all done at a fraction of a cost compared to what the boutiques charge.

At the moment, celebrities generally engage the services of “personal shoppers” also known as “personal groomers” to source for their clothes.

In recent times, services of “personal shoppers” have been engaged by professionals and the working crowd to get the best bargains from the Internet.

Shopify, Off The Rack Asia – e-commerce hots up in Malaysia

A trolley in loveSome interesting news happening in the Malaysian e-commerce space today.

  • Shopify, the Canadian company, is now in Southeast Asia thanks to SingTel backing. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India get access to Shopify, and by September, you can work with local payment gateways as SingTel will help Shopify get onboarded. In Malaysia, that means working with MOLPay (NBEPay) or iPay88. Both have woefully terrible pages that break the flow.
  • With Maybank pushing e-commerce and “blogshops”, I’m surprised they didn’t have the foresight to do this. Shopify could have chosen Malaysia as a headquarters, no? Alas, the sufferance when Singapore is your much more welcoming neighbour.
  • I read about a startup, Off The Rack Asia, that aims to compete with Zalora/FashionValet/Rakuten/etc. The story broke at FZ, which is also worth a read. They don’t disclose how much Cradle gave as a grant? It’s anywhere between RM150,000 – RM500,000 isn’t it (CIP150 or CIP500)?
    • This is great for merchants. They have more places to distribute their goods. Love that they’re supporting locals.
    • Target market is 18-35 – I think that’s two broad, you get at least 2 distinct age groups there, if not three!
    • I checked out the site – nice design. I notice that the items are generally quite pricey, so definitely not mass market fast fashion prices.
    • Checkout page can do with improvements. (I must accept terms but can’t read it via a clickable link?) Payment page basically sucks, it heads to MOLPay.
    • No idea if they’re drop shipping or holding inventory. Zalora started via drop ship, but soon realised that fulfilment was an issue, so they have a warehouse with inventory.
    • Zendesk is their Q&A platform (odd choice that you’d pay for such a service).

    Overall, I’m hoping to see improvements in payment gateways with lobbying by all these players. And I wish the girls at Off The Rack the best, it’s a tough space to be in, but one that can only grow as Malaysia itself grows digitally (as does the region).

    Malaysian postcode database

    I’ve been thinking about simplifying e-commerce checkouts in Malaysia.

    At bare minimum you need:

    • Name
    • Email address
    • Phone
    • Street address
    • Postcode

    State can be derived from Postcode. Country can be set as default, with the option to change it to something else (so a pull-down).

    I found MalaysiaPostcode as a useful database. It looks like scraped data from POS Malaysia Location Finder.

    Why a physical retail store won out over an online purchase today

    I love to buy stuff from Amazon, so why not try buying stuff from Lazada right? This was the case today for the purchase of a juicer (no, not for me). In the end, ESH, a physical store won. Why did I choose physical over e-commerce?

    Seeing a list of juicers is great. But how do I know how they work? How do I know which one is easier to clean? How do I know if anecdotally, one comes back more for warranty claims? How do I know if a juice extractor can only juice 2 oranges at one go, then requiring a one minute break (maybe I can find this in the manual, but really, when was the last time a consumer looked at a manual?).

    So, first problem – not being sure which juicer to buy. Lazada is new and lacks customer reviews. In fact, I’m not sure there will be quality customer reviews that will make me trust it anyway. Physical wins out totally here as you can touch the juicers and get guided.

    Oh, but it’s surely cheaper online, right? Wrong. Every juicer in store had a retail price, but it also came with a “best price”. If you’re Malaysian, you also probably love to haggle – try doing that at an online store! Believe it or not, the best price matched the Lazada prices hands down.

    Delivery times? 4-6 business days seems to be standard on Lazada. At ESH, I could walk out with the item immediately.

    Payment? ESH like any good physical retailer accepts credit cards (Visa/Master only though). They also give you Bonuslink points. Lazada is no different, with B.Card points.

    Warranty is a big deal. If something goes wrong, I can just walk into ESH and they’ll handle it for me. My family & I have been buying from them for decades. If something goes wrong with my purchase from Lazada, I’ll probably have to call up the individual manufacturer and work it out myself. After-sales service is very important – what has online done for improving this space?

    Now, the juicer we finally settled on for the gift was a Philips HR1871. It was RM11 cheaper on Lazada at RM688 (we paid RM699, best price rate with no haggling today). However at ESH it came with another attachment: a juice extractor. It’s a whole other attachment, and if you buy it retail from other brands it would set you back RM130 or so (even on lazada). 

    What did all this cost? A short drive (at most 2L of petrol burnt) as well as a RM0.60 sen parking fee. The time spent would have been the same, if not more online, as one would have to watch videos elsewhere, read reviews, etc.

    Leaves a lot to be desired for online shopping when it comes to white goods. Notice that if I were purchasing a tablet or cellphone it would be completely different (I can take the cheapest price since I have some domain knowledge). 

    I wonder what other experiences are…

    AppStore/PlayStore helps bridge the gap to using credit card transactions online

    My RM10 latte @ Artisan Roast. I can safely say that it's great coffee. Place a little too hip for meDoes your mother have an iPad? Know people in their 40’s playing games on their smartphones or tablets?

    I’m starting to see iPad’s transcend ages. People are using their tablets from the time they are a year old to the time they are in their 70’s (yes, personally seen these age ranges).

    The touch interface is amazing. A handheld computer without a keyboard – who’d have thought this would work?

    Buying an application from the App Store convinces you that its a good idea to use your credit card over the Internet.

    When I read A Generation Gap? Not on This Website I was quite convinced that there’s more to Halsbrook than meets the eye.

    E-commerce in Malaysia is growing. People are getting used to buying things online. A lot still happens via bank transfers (which suck for e-commerce unless you use a capable payment gateway). Getting convinced that its a good idea to use your credit card online is an important first step. The App Stores (or google Play Store) bridges this gap. 

    The state of e-commerce payments in Malaysia: still terrible

    Today I tried to checkout RM450 using iPay88. They only accept Visa or MasterCard credit cards, so I pulled my wallet out.

    I thought I would use the Citibank card today. I got sent to an error page. So I clicked the back button to head back and thankfully this worked.

    Error Finding Page

    I dug further and found a Direct Access card. I have to choose an issuing bank and now had to think a little harder to figure out that this card belongs to CIMB. I was sent a code via USSD verification which was valid for a mere 3 minutes. I had to run to my phone which was charging upstairs and run back down to make the transaction.

    Later I see an SMS from Citibank giving me my OneTime PIN that is valid for 4 minutes. I never even got the chance to use it.

    Now, lets say I was the average consumer.

    1. What would I have done with the error page?
    2. How would I have reacted to seeing one design then seeing the iPay88 page? Seems close to an attack. Stripe doesn’t have this problem.
    3. How quickly would I have retried the same credit card before I gave up on the online purchase?

    Anecdotal evidence from several online stores that I’ve been involved in suggests Malaysians are a patient bunch. They try up to three times for a credit card transaction before abandoning the cart. Some will email because its clear they really want the item. Most truly just give up.

    E-commerce is slated to be big. But fixing payments should be crucial.