How Malaysia's E-Commerce Platform Grows During the 2nd Year of COVID-19

Lenna Lim Sok Yin

It has been almost two years since the first COVID-19 case was found in the second half of 2019. As the coronavirus continuously mutates, resulting in stricter government restrictions, it is evident that people’s lives have never been the same since the pandemic.

According to JobStreet’s survey, 67% of Malaysian companies adapted to the work-from-home setup during the pandemic. Therefore, since people spend more time at home now, it is inevitable for their purchasing habits to change.

Recognizing this change, iPrice Group, in collaboration with SimilarWeb, conducted a study that keeps track of the digital economy’s growth. They analysed the top-performing e-commerce players in Malaysia and exciting e-commerce developments in 2021.

  • Shopee, Lazada, PG Mall and Zalora were consistently the most actively used e-commerce shopping platforms in Malaysia since H1 2020, according to data from SimilarWeb.
  • The local e-commerce platform, PG mall, was highly successful in garnering more average web visits as the platform’s traffic leapfrogged to 158% in H1 2021 compared to the corresponding period of 2020.
  • The fashion and cosmetic sites’ web traffic continued to take a hit in H1/2021.

The Biggest E-Retailers in Malaysia

Based on the data, the interest of Malaysians in online general marketplaces skyrocketed, signifying strong consumer confidence in e-commerce retail during COVID-19. People purchased their basic needs online due to the curfew and the country’s standard operating procedure to combat the coronavirus.

The study reveals that the average traffic of e-commerce platforms remained high. These results prove that COVID-19 is continuously shaping Malaysians’ online shopping demands, especially for grocery and basic needs.

The e-commerce players that emerged as the top 3 were Shopee, Lazada, and PG Mall, in which all three showed a stable position in H1 2020 and 2021.

The Singapore-based company, Shopee, took the crown as the most visited e-commerce platform amongst Malaysians. The e-commerce company saw a tremendous increase of 54% from H1 2020 to H1 2021, garnering nearly an average of 18 million visitors in 1 year. In the past years, Shopee has put significant focus on developing its mobile application to engage tech-savvy consumers and adapt to their ever-evolving purchasing habits. Among many new features introduced was SPay Later, which lets consumers buy items and pay later to help them receive basic needs.

Furthermore, Lazada also garnered 13.9M average web visits in H1 2021, which earned its rank as the Top 2. The surge in general marketplaces’ web visits is potentially driven by the platforms’ ongoing marketing initiatives to promote and help value-driven shoppers during the stay-at-home period, such as monthly double-day flash sales, Lazada’s birthday sale, free deliveries features, and many others.

iPrice foresees that the general marketplaces will constantly grow as they are actively seeking influential brand ambassadors, such as Jackie Chan and Hyun Bin, to attract consumers. At the same time, consumers generally like getting discounts and free deliveries to their doorsteps, especially while the COVID-19 cases are stagnantly high.

From a Dark Horse to a Front-Runner

Industry giants like Shopee and Lazada were not the only players that experienced growth during the pandemic; PG Mall, a homegrown e-commerce platform, landed firmly in 3rd place, with a 158% surge in average traffic from H1 2020 to 2021. This is encouraging news since more than 90% of micro, small, medium and informal entrepreneurs in Malaysia are at the risk of closure due to the pandemic.

PG Mall’s strong performance could be attributed to the platform’s model of allowing small business owners to sell various products and to transform their traditional businesses into online platforms across the globe. At the same time, their collaboration with the second largest e-commerce platform in China, JD Worldwide, in H1 2021 promoted local brands and products to China, also one of the critical successes of PG Mall.

Non-Essential Categories Are Taking a Blow

Malaysia’s cosmetics websites were rattled by COVID-19 and in result, they experienced a significant drop of 38% in web visits during H1 2021 compared to H1 2020. People are no longer actively seeking trendy lipsticks, blushers, foundations, and more as most are now staying at home.

Similarly, fashion websites, which were a massive part of Malaysia’s e-commerce industry, slightly increased in H1 2021, but only by 5%. Fashion websites such as bridal fashion (wedding.com.my) experienced a downturn of 52% as people did not have any wedding dinners or parties to attend. People have also started to wear athleisure clothing while working from home.

Although COVID-19 negatively affects many economic sectors, the decisive shift from offline to online stores and the changes in spending behaviour give a positive outlook for the upcoming online sales campaigns. The pandemic may have just improved Malaysia's digital economy.

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Methodology: The average web visits were collected on SimilarWeb as of H1 2021, which accumulated the total average visits (desktop & mobile web only) obtained by the most visited e-commerce companies in Malaysia. The displayed rankings are based on the average web visits in 2020 (Jan-Jun 2020) and 2021 (Jan-Jun 2021).

About iPrice Group

iPrice Group is Southeast Asia’s leading online shopping companion. With a mission to bring a greater level of transparency, convenience and trust to the e-commerce market across Southeast Asia in order to help people save money, the company today operates in seven countries across Southeast Asia namely Malaysia, Singapore,Indonesia,Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and HongKong. Currently, iPrice compares and catalogs 6+ billion e-commerce offers from more than 2 million sellers, attracting more than 35 million monthly visits across the region. iPrice currently operates under its own brand iPrice and through various partnerships with leading apps, such as SmartPay (Vietnam), Boost (Malaysia), GoRewards (Philippines), Home Credit (Indonesia) Visense (Singapore), Robinsons rewards (Philippines) & Boost (Malaysia).

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