Customer Trust Key To Online Business Success

By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Malaysians are avid online shoppers, as numerous surveys in recent years have shown.

Last year, the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes survey revealed that 76 percent of Malaysians shop online at least once a month.

A research by iPrice Group reported that as of August 2017, the value of the country's e-commerce industry was RM24.6 billion.

In July 2017, the International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that various efforts have been done to increase the contribution of the e-commerce industry to the GDP from 5.4 percent in 2015 to 10 percent in 2020.

Many more today are turning to business online as a source for secondary income.

Online businesses often do not require a big capital or advanced computer skills. This makes easy for almost anyone to start a business with zero to minimal risk of losses.

In some cases, those with online business on the side often find themselves earning more through their part-time business. They would eventually leave their full-time job to pursue their online business full time.

STARTING WITHOUT CAPITAL

It was thus not surprising that more than 100 people attended the 'Mula E-Commerce' seminar on Jan 20 to learn the basics of setting up an online business.

Four major local online retailers spoke at the one-day seminar, where they taught participants how to utilise free online platforms to launch their online business before expanding to paid platforms.

The founder thebabystore.com.my Syed Rosman Hashimy Syed Alwi, 33, shared with participants his experience managing an online business since 2013.

"You can start an online business with zero cost, if you already have a computer and an internet access. Then all you need to do is either become a dropship agent or secure pre-orders.

"For example, if there is a 'keropok lekor' factory near where you live, you can advertise the factory product on the internet. If orders come in, you can ask customers to pay upfront for the product as well as the delivery charge. You then use the money to buy the products, deliver it to the customers and enjoy the profit from the sales," he explained.

MULTIPLE PLATFORMS

Syed Rosman also shared roadmaps that guide new sellers to develop the business that best suits their capabilities.

The first step, as suggested by him, is to sell via the online marketplace mudah.my as this provides the opportunity to brush up on the basic skill of product listing. Mudah also does not impose any charge for basic services as such.

Once beginners have mastered the skill, they can move on to other online marketplaces such as Shopee, Lazada and 11Street. Some of these marketplaces impose service charge while others are free to use.

Syed Rosman said that at that level, sellers could focus on sales and customer service as they did not have to worry about technical aspects such as developing and maintaining websites, which required a vastly different set of skills.

Sellers at that level also do not have to focus on investing in promotional activities via Facebook Advertisement and Google Advertisement because that would be taken care of by the marketplace owners.

"Sellers can use this opportunity to improve the efficiency of their operations, plan their cash flow as well as other aspects of the business before building their own e-commerce platform," he said.

LONG TERM PLAN

Another speaker Zulkifli Abdullah, 33, said online sellers needed to plan their sales strategy so that they would be able maximise the value of every sales transaction.

"Without a good business plan, a seller might only be able to sell only one product in each transaction. Why should it be that way when they can sell three or four products at the same time?" he questioned.

For that to happen, Zulkifli said that sellers must properly identify problems typically faced by customers and other issues that might arise from it. From there, they could seek to solve the issues by offering customers a solution through the use of their products.

For customers with weight issues, for example, sellers could first attract public attention by offering 'lead magnets' like a free e-book.

Sellers can then offer products at promotional prices, starting with the main products and ending with profit maximisers. The latter would be premium products offered to customers who want a little something more or value for their money such as slimming programme packages.

"If sellers don't give it a go, they will lose the potential of higher sales and it's not good business sense to let go of such golden opportunities," he advised.

FLEXIBLE MARKETING STRATEGIES

"In fast-paced industries like e-commerce, a businessperson must be ready to change their marketing strategies through budgeting, sales campaigns and profit gains," said digital marketing consultant Muhammad Alimuddin Zafrullah.

He spoke on 'E-commerce Marketing and Analytics' and said not all sales campaigns went as well as planned. Sellers must therefore be flexible enough to adapt to such situations.

He highly recommends for online sellers to set their sales target for every promotional campaign held. This would enable them to easily and efficiently evaluate the efficacy of a campaign.

Muhammad Alimuddin also recommends preparing visual aids and copywriting scripts for each campaign.

"Sellers will assess problems during the campaign such as traffic and value of sales. From the data derived, sellers can identify what changes need to be made to quickly remedy problems that arise," he said.

Muhammad Alimuddin believed that those with smaller businesses had more leeway when it comes to experimenting and changing strategies without the bureaucracy that bigger businesses have to deal with. This helps even the playing the field.

BUILDING TRUST

The founder of business content website notabisnes.net, Ahmad Izwan Abdul Wahab, 35, said two things were vital to building trust in an online business: trust in the seller and the efficacy of a product or service.

These two elements are referred to as 'simplifiers' among online entrepreneurs. Ahmad Izwan said that consistent interaction played a significant role in building customer trust. The more often they 'see' a seller, the higher the trust.

"Sellers can use customers' phone numbers or e-mail address to maintain communication with them, such as by an updating the status of an order. We can update them of the progress by informing them when the product is being prepped for delivery, ready to be shipped and to ask customers if they have received the products ordered," he explained.

Sellers that actively maintain the communication line will build strong customer trust despite not meeting their customer face to face.

Ahmad Izwan noted that a survey by an American consumer association magazine revealed that what customers found most irritating was when they had to struggle to get in touch with a seller to resolve an issue.

BERNAMA