Amidst Major E-Commerce Competitors, This M’sian Startup’s Game Plan Is To Stay Small

In 2015, we witnessed the birth of Shopee. By then, e-commerce giant Lazada was already established.

That same year, however, another e-commerce marketplace was launched. It’s called Youbeli.

Unlike the two giants, it’s a fully locally invested company, and it was launched specifically to serve local SMEs by bringing them online, particularly for those with poor IT knowledge.

But of course, we had to ask: what gave Youbeli the confidence to launch despite the competition at the time, both established and potential ones?

“Based on what we know at the moment, both companies are still not making money from their business,” Chua, CEO of Youbeli, told Vulcan Post.

While Youbeli itself isn’t profitable yet, neither is it loss-making. He also pointed out a difference between its focus and that of the others.

“Our direction is still quite simple, which is to help SMEs sell online. Perhaps we are not going for the direction of 1,000 sellers selling the same product, but smaller-scale, to let users choose from good and quality sellers.”

“Comparison and checking for such big size information takes time, and we know that time is the most expensive resource,” he added.

Quality Over Quantity

Any listing you see on Youbeli would be put up by a registered company only, because it doesn’t currently accept individual sellers.

This is one way it maintains and ensures its quality levels. Interested sellers must present complete company forms and their director’s IC upon application.

Some of the notable sellers on Youbeli are commonly known brands like Nestlé, Razer, Logitech, Pelangi, and Sasbadi, for examples.

Youbeli’s site offerings / Image Credit: Youbeli

Just because they’re a registered company doesn’t mean that customers are free from being scammed though.

When someone makes a purchase, Youbeli steps in to hold payment to the sellers until the transaction is complete.

On the other hand, some customers have been known to scam sellers as well, and Youbeli combats this by making sure customers send proof of a registered email and a verified phone number.

Prioritising Customer Service, Not Acquisition

When Youbeli was first launched, the team had several obstacles to overcome.

These included convincing sellers that selling online would benefit them in the long run, especially because their early sales were usually lower compared to that of their traditional outlet business’.

They also had to be trained in basic e-commerce knowledge and marketing skills.

Chua said that the cost of user acquisition is rising, so on Youbeli’s end, they’re trying different methods.

Offering niche products and working with agencies and partners like MDEC, SITEC, telcos, and banks to attract users are just some of the ways.

To further grow the company amidst better-funded competition, Youbeli is avoiding the route of burning money to get high traffic and sales.

Instead, they’re doubling down on providing value to customers.

“From the past few marketplaces that have ceased services, we know that good quality customer service is more important than some big figure,” Chua stated.

Taking It Slow & Steady

Youbeli is currently partnering with Taiwanese and Indonesian marketplaces to bring in more products and services to its customers.

“We have 2 million SKUs now and plan to have 5-8 million products over the next 2 years. With this increment of variety, we expect another 5x sales generated,” Chua said.

To accomplish this, they’ll be working with more quality merchants, foreign partners, and local shopping malls.

So far, they’ve collaborated with Star Avenue by Mah Sing Group, and most recently, Petaling Jaya Digital Mall for O2O marketing campaigns.

Service-wise, they plan to implement same-day deliveries by next month through a third-party dispatch.


There’s no doubt that e-commerce sites have some tough competition with one another, and each one has to find a way to retain their customers while attracting new ones.

Some of the ways the larger players do this is by offering mini in-app games and rewarding customers with coins or vouchers.

It’s a fun and interactive way to keep customers engaged, and to encourage them to keep purchasing.

From what I can see, Youbeli doesn’t offer such things, and perhaps it may not even be a priority to the team, who simply wants to focus on customer service and quality offerings.

However, I think that with people’s desire for instant gratification nowadays and their short attention spans, having one or two mini-games with small rewards could increase Youbeli’s brand awareness amongst the Malaysian public.

Nonetheless, they’ve held on rather steadfastly for 5 years now, and I believe their less aggressive growth strategy works in their favour.

  • You can learn more about Youbeli here.
  • You can read what we’ve written about e-commerce here.

Featured Image Credit: Youbeli

Categories: Entrepreneur, Malaysian

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)