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Using big data to analyse e-commerce trends


The government wants to use big data to analyse trends in the e-commerce scene to spur the country’s e-commerce activities under the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) initiative.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the move will enable the government and e-commerce players to look at products that are popular in the different markets and grasp demographic information and sales volume.

“Today we’re having our National eCommerce Council meeting and one area is looking at data collection. With the Alibaba platform, we have 24/7 real time data. We can know who’s doing well and we can have analysis of products that will be good for Matrade (Malaysia External Trade Development Corp) and the government to know what products (are popular) and where (are the markets). If sales are low, we would know which segment we should do more promotion. It’s an important spin-off of the digital economy and the Alibaba investment in Malaysia,” he told a media conference at the Malaysia Digital Economy Forum today.

Mustapa also chaired the first National eCommerce Council, which monitors the progress of implementation of the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap, for the year.

More than 2,000 SMEs have registered with the Alibaba group platform under the the DFTZ initiative, which the government is targeting for 10,000 SMEs to be on the platform by year-end.

Malaysia’s digital economy has seen exponential growth and to date, 58,824 online businesses have registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia. The digital economy accounted for 18.2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, while the share of e-commerce in the national GDP stood at 6.1%.

Mustapa said nine out of 10 business establishments in Malaysia are SMEs. About 28% of these have online presence and 15% already use that presence for export purposes. The government is committed to undertake initiatives that will further push these numbers.

He said the launch of the DFTZ Pilot Project by the prime minister last year saw growing interest among local and international e-commerce players. The government will work towards ensuring the sustainability of SMEs that are already DFTZ-listed and assist more SMEs to list, in line with the national aspiration of ensuring SMEs are future-ready and equipped to venture into cross-border e-commerce.

In the national digital economy agenda, the DFTZ provides a sustainable platform for SMEs and enterprises to conduct their businesses online. A growing number of companies have started to export via the DFTZ and this will only increase as more and more players understand the value of participating in this initiative.

The DFTZ has been successful in institutionalising some of the trade facilitating measures undertaken by the government, including reduced cargo clearance time from six to three hours in KLIA Air-Cargo Terminal 1, KLIA as well as further simplified documentation procedures.

Going forward, the DFTZ could be the first of many more institutionalised trade facilitation measures expanded to other parts of the country, which will only serve to facilitate local businesses sourcing from third country markets.

Complementing the physical and soft infrastructure provided through DFTZ is the Matrade’s eTrade programme, incepted in 2014 to push Malaysian companies’ exports through e-commerce platforms. In 2017, of the 1,998 companies recruited under the DFTZ initiative, 1,378 are eTrade participants.

This year, DFTZ’s expansion will include trade by sea. The first phase of this expansion will include locations within Malaysia, such as Port Klang and Bukit Kayu Hitam.

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