As more and more people gain access to the Internet, they are also shifting their buying power online too. With websites like Qoo10, Zalora, and recently FaveChic eager for the piece of the online retail pie, there has been debate on whether traditional brick and mortar stores are losing their appeal. Judging by statistics of Malaysian shoppers, it certainly is starting to seem that way.
Pos Malaysia, that delivers most of these online purchases to consumers in Malaysia, has stated that their online purchase deliveries have risen from 29 million to 40 million, a staggering increase in merely two short years!
Also, now that Malaysia is in the midst of Ramadan, and with Muslims preparing for Hari Raya, online purchases have further increased by 25-30% during this time period. It is easy to see why people would turn their attentions online. Compared to brick and mortar stores, shoppers do not need to worry about the logistics of being physically present at these stores, for example the traveling costs and time needed to travel.
Online shopping also gives Malaysians better access to branded merchandise and shopping experiences. According to this report released by PwC in 2013, up to 9 out of 10 shoppers in developing Asian countries browse or buy items online, with 84% of Malaysians doing so, while spending 15 minutes on average doing so on their smartphones.
However, with the increase of online shopping in Malaysia, so does the problems associated with it. From January to May 2014 alone, 30 cases involving online shopping shortcomings were reported to the Consumer Claims Tribunal. These complaints ranged from products to services, vouchers, and even used cars.
Perhaps an indicator of consumer affluence, the highest number of cases was reported in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan, and Selangor. From 2011 till now, there were a total of 134 cases of online shopping shortcomings recorded in these states.
Recognizing the increasing popularity of online shopping, Mohan Arumugam, the senior assistant director of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-Operatives, and Consumerism (MDTCC), has recently even advocated for online shoppers to shop wisely, and advised them to practice their rights as a consumer, if the need arises.
As a regular online shopper in Singapore, it is easy to see why online shopping is gaining such traction in Asia. With many in Singapore holding day jobs and only free on weeknights and weekends, it can be truly tiring to spend these down times prowling around in malls for the items they want/need.
The convenience, the range of products available, and not to mention the attractive prices, are all significant factors that come into play when consumers decide on buying an item online. With just a click of a button, anyone can purchase from shopping sites over the world, and the items will arrive at your doorstep within a few short days. It is an addictive experience, and once experienced, you might feel hard-pressed about shopping the traditional way again.
As the online retailer community grows, questions about traditional shopping have been raised sporadically now and again. Whether this means the death of traditional shopping is still an unknown though, as there are still definitely people who prefer shopping in this manner.
However, there is little doubt that online shopping is perfectly poised for even greater things ahead in the near future. In the Internet age, the future of the retail industry seems destined for a permanent place inside the online community.