KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 9): If you are an online shopping addict, you are not alone – a recent survey showed that up to 22 million people in Malaysia are digital consumers.

The survey was conducted by Facebook and Bain & Co in their annual SYNC Southeast Asia report that looks at the digital economy and the future of e-commerce in the region.

Gwendolyn Lim, partner at Bain & Co told The Edge Malaysia that 88% of the total Malaysian population are digital consumers today versus the Southeast Asian (SEA) average of 78%.

She also revealed that Malaysia is ahead of Indonesia at 80% and Singapore at 79%, and by end-2021, nine out of 10 Malaysians are expected to shop online.

Up to 46% of Malaysians are already using online as their primary purchasing channel.

Better logistics and the improved role of e-commerce players have played a big role in the growth of digital consumption.

“Shopee Malaysia, for example, is able to do nationwide delivery within one to four days now instead of over 10 days as recently as two to three years ago,” Lim said.

The survey also showed that many consumers do not actually know what they want to buy when they go online to “browse”.

“When consumers go online, they have that shopping mall mentality or browser window shopping mentality, and they go ‘this is interesting’. And they are also shop-hopping across [about] seven websites before making a purchase decision and visiting stores they have never tried before. Last year, they visited [an average of] 4.8 websites,” says Nicole Tan, country director for Facebook Malaysia told The Edge.

Lim said people are visiting more websites as they hunt for value, “especially for non-essential items”. “Consumers are willing to wait for deals and promotions before making a purchase, particularly when it comes to electronics, clothing and cosmetics,” she said.

It is well known that the online consumer spike has been driven largely by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic (lockdowns, social distancing) and the question now is that will consumers abandon e-commerce as countries move to the endemic and post pandemic stage?

Habits developed over the past 1½ years will transcend the pandemic and become a permanent shift in behaviour, said Lim, as going online is a good way to “to seek value” while the convenience provided by e-consuming  “has been embedded in people’s psyche now”.

She say at most, there may be a small decline in online shopping if things go back to normal.

Read the full report in this week’s The Edge Malaysia

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