On the 20th of March, 2018, the Selangor Information Technology and E-Commerce Council organised its second Bahasa Malaysia  E-Commerce Class of the year at the Selangor Digital Creative Centre (SDCC), which saw 72 people attending the class on product management.

Coach Sulaiman Mokhtar, E-Commerce Trainer at Avana, started off with a quick review about what an online product is, as well as a checklist of how to start selling online, including items such as knowing the target audience, knowing what product or service to sell, setting a realistic price, logistics, payment verification,terms of service, and knowing what you need or what problem has to be solved.

From there, he moved to a list of items held up as profitable online products by a magazine, such as healthy food catering, fashion apparel, beauty products, gadgets, and snacks. Sulaiman utilised each item on the list as makeshift scenarios for the checklist, to provide a clearer example to the audience.

He then spoke about the P.S.P. concept of product management, with P.S.P. an abbreviation for Perniagaan, Sistem, Pelanggan or Business, System, Customer. This concept, according to Sulaiman, covers the marketing strategy and business model of a company, as signified by Business, the inventory and management system used by the business, signified by System, and knowing the targeted audience, as signified by Customer.

Sulaiman also noted that using the concept above helps an e-merchant to better manage their business, having a clear objective, means, and system to operate from.

He then discussed the major issues faced by online merchants with multiple sales channels, namely, the multiple different platforms, the different and uncoordinated means of receiving orders, no clear payment gateway or transaction safeguards, as well as the need to manually care for the business’ inventory across multiple platforms.

As an answer to those issues, Sulaiman presented Avana as a system that allows an online seller to sell across multiple social media platforms, and receive payment through those platforms, as well as managing the orders and inventory for the merchant automatically.

Engku Anwar Hilmi, Co-Founder of EA Marketplace, spoke next about his own experiences as an online merchant. Having started selling online without a system, Engku learned how to match inventory, as well as how to handle orders, payment, and logistics manually, before switching to Avana’s system.

He then spoke about the relationship between the Customer, the E-Commerce business, and the Supplier, the three most important parties in an e-Commerce venture. He advised e-merchants that there remains a need to bring in traffic, as, no matter how nice the web store looks, it would be pointless without traffic. However, the merchant also needs to bring in targeted traffic that meets their business model’s target audience. As such, merchants need to first know their business model, be it B2B, B2C, or B2G, and decide, not only their target market, but their platform as well. Engku advised attendees to do their research, as it could make all the difference in their businesses.

He then showed several of his own websites, noting that he personally preferred websites due to the brand exposure and brand-building that websites offered. Another tip he shared was for merchants to have at least three suppliers for the same product, so that the product will continue to be available despite any issues with any one, or even any two suppliers.

Throughout the tour of his three websites, he pointed out aspects such as why a particular website targeted a particular segment, or why a certain type of product is selected to be sold. He also advised the audience to plan for their particular target markets, and having a plan for the holiday seasons, as “there is traditionally a slump after festivals”, according to Engku.

Then he moved into general advice for the audience, namely that they have to build their brand, target the right customers for their product, and build up their brand presentation.

“Show your target market why they should buy from you,” said Engku.

Another point of discussion was trust, with Engku sharing that people are more likely to trust in a friend’s recommendation than an advertisement. As such, he advised against playing the price war game, instead recruiting their own happy customers to promote their brand through word of mouth instead.

The last tip Engku shared was to communicate well with the target market.

“Copywriting is important, and you should tailor it to your specific target market. Product demo videos can not only help customers to understand your product better, but also show the strengths of your products,” noted Engku.

“Proof on social media, as well as testimonies from happy customers can also help to sway the target market to your side,” added Engku.

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