SHOPPING malls – a place where we used to spend the day browsing and shopping, where we go for a meal with the family, to hang out with friends, watch movies, and buy groceries.
There’s so much to do at shopping malls.
Now, the malls are deserted as people shun public places no thanks to Covid-19.
Kim who runs a toy shop at a popular mall in Petaling Jaya has not seen a child pop into her store to check out the latest Hot Wheels in months.
Since the start of the movement control order in March, Kim has only sold 30 items.
Then a second wave hit in October with reports of positive cases at the mall. While her shop, like many others, stayed open, the customers stopped coming.
Retailers have since realised that their conversations with customers would need to continue on an online space so that their brands and products continue to capture mindshare – in preparation for when people return to the malls.
While online marketplaces are great at providing relevance and a quick shopping experience for shoppers, there are some enjoyable aspects of in-store shopping that an ecommerce experience won’t be able match.
So who do we turn to when we want a quick two-way conversation on product availability, flexibility of payment choices, product defects and questions regarding shipping fees?
Is there a way to get the best of both worlds – a warm retail shopping experience and the relevance of an ecommerce site?
For many years, Kiple has been supporting merchants to get online with speed, while ensuring a great digital experience with a unified payment platform that allows merchants to be leaner and more cost efficient in running their operations.
Merchants who use Kiple’s unified payment platform enjoy faster settlement periods, reliability and support as well as features that help them manage financial reconciliation.
Its one-click payment and e-invoicing solutions help them quickly issue bulk invoices to fulfil requests, saving them unnecessary operating and manpower costs.
Through interactions with local retailers, Kiple realised that merchants need an enhanced experience to connect better with customers.
Kiple found the perfect partnership with Censuria Mall, a recently launched local-based online marketplace that aspires to shape the future of retailing in South-East Asia.
Censuria Mall’s goal to be a digital enabler to merchants is aligned with Kiple – to drive an inclusive cashless agenda to power local merchants and small businesses.
“With the closures and restrictive movements, merchants with only physical stores are stuck with huge inventories and no customers.
“They need a solid foundation to kickstart their digital journey, which should ideally comprise a customer base, logistics and digital payments, ” said Censuria Mall head of operations Lily Jo.
Censuria Mall worked on a virtual all-inclusive site that puts the customer at the heart of the solution and promises the best deals – new product offerings and bargains all-year-round, as well as stock clearance offers at unbeatable prices – while Kiple worked to ensure better online payment experiences for merchants and shoppers.
Censuria Mall gathered local trusted merchants as a digital community and enabled them to transition to a digital business within a shared environment.
Merchants, like Kim, can now open a new channel for sales and reach out further to customers beyond their physical stores. It also helped her small toy shop stand out and not get lost within the clutter of an overpopulated marketplace.
“Together with Kiple we have developed an innovative ecommerce platform, while building an extensive warehouse network, which we believe are two of the key components of future retail success, ” said Jo.
One of the main gaps in the current ecommerce experience is the handling of after sales issues such as unsatisfactory, incomplete or out of stock orders, which can be an unnecessary hassle for both merchants and customers.
Resolving these issues can be time and energy-consuming, not to mention costly due to the additional shipping expenses and the lead time required for refunds.
To resolve this, Censuria Mall and Kiple worked on the order now, pay later mechanism.
“This mechanism allows online shoppers to enjoy a smooth, hassle-free experience by eliminating any potential error in the process of fulfilling an order, whereby merchants must confirm the availability and condition of the products in advance, before payments are made, ” said KiplePay CEO Kay Tan.
“With this mechanism, you can order that shirt now and pay when you are satisfied that the item is in the colour and size that you want and can be shipped on time.”
Other values that the platform provides for customers include:
> Trusted merchants: Purchase with confidence as all Censuria merchants are businesses registered with the Companies Commission Of Malaysia. Merchants without recognition by the commission are not eligible to become a vendor on Censuria Mall.
> Dedicated customer service hotline: Buyers can speak directly to merchants for enquiries, allowing for quick and easy clarification before and after purchases.
> Free shipping: No additional shipping fee.“Censuria’s virtual mall is a purpose-built marketplace that is both merchant and customer-centric.
“It is not merely a quick fix to transitioning a brick-and-mortar to a click-and-mortar store.
“We worked closely with Kiple to ensure the delivery of a superior platform, ” said Jo.
Kiple’s order now, pay later mechanism provides Censuria Mall merchants a safe and hassle-free three-step solution to collect payments:
1. Place order: Search through the catalogue of hot deals and click to place order.
2. Hold payment while confirming availability: Once the order has been processed, a follow-up email is sent confirming product availability and detailed payment instruction.
3. Make payment when customers are satisfied: Once the customer is 100% satisfied with the selected order, they can make payment however they want – through debit/credit card, online banking or ewallet. A confirmation email with details of shipment and delivery will be automatically sent (tracking number, date, time of expected delivery and delivery company included).
Censuria Mall allows merchants to showcase their brands and products to thousands of shoppers with a fully-managed online shop.
“You won’t have to hire additional staff to manage your shop, as we will support you at no extra cost. All you need to do is focus on growing your business and provide tip-top customer service, ” said Jo.
“We want as many merchants as possible to benefit from our virtual marketplace. If you make it through our selection process and qualify, you won’t be required to pay any fee at all (zero set-up fee, annual fee and commission fee). We are here to help you grow your business on Censuria Mall.”
In these troubled time we hear about stores across the country closing down.
Retail Group Malaysia expects 15% of total retailers or some 51,000 stores to close due to the current economic and market environment, with a peak expected in January 2021.
RGM also estimates that the loss of retail sales this year could be as high as RM6.8bil, which sends an urgent call to retailers, like Kim, to diversify their businesses from store-focused to a balanced operation with online market presence.
To assist merchants with this transition, the Government is providing financial assistance such as the Industry Digitalisation Transformation Fund that is available till end 2020 to boost migration, and the SME Digitalisation Grant Scheme and Automation Grant for micro-SMEs to help them become digital ready.
With some RM1.8mil government stimuli available for businesses to adopt ecommerce, Kiple will even assist merchants identify suitable funds that also cover training and equipment.
To read more about Green Packet-enabled digital warriors, go to www.digitalwarriors.greenpacket.com/
Green Packet is an internationally recognized telecommunications, media and technology Company. Founded in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley in 2000 and subsequently listed on the Malaysian Stock Exchange in 2005, Green Packet designs and produces wireless devices, user-centered applications and services that enable the delivery of valuable digital experiences.