Photo - Audrey Ottevanger, Country Manager for Malaysia & Philippines
Malaysian small and medium businesses are helping to fuel an increase of 0.6 percent in overall exports during 2012, according to e-commerce firm PayPal, which cites data from the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation.
Malaysian small and medium businesses (SMEs) make up more than 97.3 percent of all businesses in Malaysia and are turning to online channels to take their businesses to the next level, said PayPal country manager for Malaysia and Philippines, Audrey Ottevanger.
As SMEs account for more than 97.3 percent of all businesses in Malaysia, they form the backbone of the economy and are expected to contribute significantly to the country's export trade flow, said Ottevanger during a recent event in Kuala Lumpur.
"[However] as the economic landscape becomes increasingly competitive and overhead costs rise, SMEs will need to source for new avenues of business growth, to propel their businesses to the next level," she said.
Ottevanger said that unlike traditional exports, exports via e-commerce have shown high growth rates in Malaysia and local SMEs could realise growth by moving into a wide range of online export categories.
PayPal data showed that PayPal merchants in Malaysia grew their businesses significantly faster by using cross-border e-commerce to export to key trade corridors in 2012, she said.
"For example, while traditional exports to China, Malaysia's top trading partner, declined by 3.1 percent in 2012, local PayPal merchants increased their online export sales to China by 35 percent," said Ottevanger.
"Malaysia saw lifts in traditional export growth to other key trading partners, Japan (1.9 percent) and USA (5.4 percent), however, local PayPal merchants were able to register higher, double-digit export growth online of 57 percent to Japan, and 19 percent to USA," she said. "Strong growth was also registered in Malaysia's other major export markets, Singapore (40 percent) and Australia (19 percent).
'Savvy Malaysian merchants'
Ottevanger said Malaysian PayPal merchants registered higher, double-digit growth rates in 2012, according to data collated from PayPal users and merchants based in Malaysia, which again emphasised the significant opportunities that e-commerce offered to local businesses.
She said the top online export categories for Malaysia included computers & accessories, books & magazines and electronics. "The top purchases in the mobile devices categories were software and fashion items. As local businesses venture into the e-commerce space, understanding the different online buying behaviours and preferences of their customers across various platforms is vital as they develop their business strategies."
"The high growth of online exports in Malaysia can be attributed to savvy local small businesses creating products and services, which are in high demand by an international audience at competitive prices, and offering the convenience of online purchases to global buyers with secure payment transactions," said Ottevanger.
"With the rise in the purchasing power of the global consumer, there is a clear call to action for Malaysian SMEs to take advantage of these trends, and position Malaysia as an e-commerce trading hub," she said.
PayPal has 128 million active PayPal users in 193 markets worldwide, said Ottevanger. "Our data and insights clearly show that Malaysian SMEs have a fantastic opportunity to reach out to millions of consumers globally, and aggressively expand into overseas markets through cross-border e-commerce. With welcome support from government initiatives geared at strengthening the SMEs' online presence, we believe there is no better time for them to capitalise on the high-growth online export channel, especially during these tough economic times."
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