- SMEs should take more advantage of cross-border opportunities
- Education needed to enable SMEs to go global
THE eCommerce Crossborder Conference 2017 will be taking place in Kuala Lumpur on September 27-29. The conference, themed ‘Global digital trade & technology challenges’, aims to be a forum at which SMEs and other business professionals can obtain insights into and advice on using digital technology to take their businesses international.
Vincent Cheong, founder and CEO of e-commerce consultancy buddicart eCommerce Sdn Bhd, the conference organiser, says that this conference is beneficial and timely for local SMEs because they need more education about taking their businesses not just digital but also international.
According to Cheong, though the business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce market in Malaysia is on a growth trajectory, there is a lot of room left for it to get bigger because there is still a vast untapped area – brick and mortar retailers who are yet to go online. This opens up opportunities for the business-to-business (B2B) market, where businesses can provide platforms for others for digital transformation and exposure to cross-border retail connections.
“Malaysian SMEs do have the potential to go global, but the problem is that many are sceptical about going international. They worry about competition and cost, but you definitely have to compete if you go global and to do so you need better quality products,” says Cheong.
With the Digital Free Trade Zone on the horizon, there is no better time than now to think about going global. Though Cheong believes that businesses should have started doing this a long time ago, he says that with Malaysia’s current internet infrastructure being good, there is a lot of opportunity for the taking. “It’s not too late; there is still time for Malaysian businesses.”
Even if SMEs do think about cross-border retail, they tend to limit themselves by thinking only of the region or one country – in the case of Malaysian SMEs, that country is usually China. This, however, is certainly not going global.
“It might be because they do not have full knowledge of what cross-border e-commerce entails. This is something they should learn about and explore,” says Cheong.
The fact is that there are numerous platforms out there that reach relevant markets in multiple countries that SMEs may not have even considered, such as Russia, which has a thriving e-commerce industry and strong online buying behaviour.
“China is not the only international market for SMEs. There is Russia, India and even some African countries, which have growing economies rife with opportunity,” he says.
“SMEs should not target just one or two countries, they should target any country that they can sell in. They may have different strengths in different countries but they must learn to play to these strengths.”
The conference, which will feature international speakers, will provide information and facts on how SMEs can effectively sell globally, and use the latest data and research to show how companies benefit from cross-border e-commerce.
Cheong views this conference and the education that buddicart provides to SMEs through its programmes as preparation for the latter to get into and succeed in the DFTZ.
“If you wait for it to happen and then try to change yourself, it’s too late. Planning must start now. The next three to five years is your time to transform. If you don’t, it will be too late to complete globally, even with the DFTZ,” he opines.
The international speakers include director of India’s largest marketplace IndiaMART Dinesh Gulati, who will be speaking about payment gateways, co-founder of Cross Border E-Commerce Community Rolf Visser, who will present the results of a study that shows cross-border e-commerce to be the future of business, and CEO of Africa’s leading business directory esaja.com Clinton Mutamabo, who will show attendees how to sell their products in the African market.
Those who register for the conference before Sept 1 will be entitled to get their products or services posted on China-based platform Jumore, the first cross-border e-commerce platform for commodities, goods and service, for free. Those who sign up Sept 1 onward will have to pay a fee to be posted on Jumore.
This package includes access to training programmes run by buddicart after the conference that will teach businesses what they need to know to go global in e-commerce.
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