KUALA LUMPUR (March 7): Malaysia becomes a gateway for Japanese products to the ASEAN market as envisaged in the Japan Mall project that aims to promote international online sales of a wide selection of cosmetics and foods through purchase-and-sales support from major e-commerce sites overseas.
Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) Kuala Lumpur managing director Mai Onozawa said the online sales platform in Malaysia could be a stepping stone to expand Japanese products to other ASEAN countries, as Malaysia has the highest e-commerce potential with its high percentage of people with smart devices.
She said Malaysia also has an attractive consumer market in the upper-class income bracket.
The online Japan Mall project for Japanese cosmetics and foods in Malaysia was launched by JETRO in 2018.
"JETRO is collaborating with major e-commerce sites Hermo and Shojikiya to raise awareness of Japanese food and cosmetic products," she told Bernama in an interview.
In response to the growing demand for souvenir confectionery in Malaysia, Onozawa said JETRO is currently holding a regional souvenir fair, mainly for products from Hokkaido, Okayama and Kyushu from January to March this year, as overseas travel and local souvenir purchases are not possible due to the Covid-19-lockdown.
She said the online souvenir fair in the Japan Mall promotion could be a foothold to raise awareness of Japanese products, particularly for newly-launched products from Japan’s Okayama region in Malaysia and the rest of the ASEAN region.
"The sales of products from Hokkaido is encouraging, with influencers and social media advertisements being engaged.
“The sales of products from Okayama are slightly slower, maybe because these products were just launched in Malaysia this year and we intend to raise awareness of the Okayama region," she added.
"We also recognise the potential of the halal market and a few Japanese companies are producing (goods) for the halal exports market. While Chinese customers are Japan Mall’s main target in the promotion of Japanese products, we hope to introduce more halal products in the future," she said.
Japanese food trading company Shojikiya Sdn Bhd key account servicing manager Melissa Lim said outlet sales were affected due to the movement control order (MCO).
Shojikiya has the largest e-commerce site, catering to Japanese food, in Malaysia.
"However, our e-commerce sales are increasing well. JETRO’s Japan Mall project is one of the key factors in increasing demand for eat-at-home purchases during the Covid-19-lockdown," she told Bernama.
Nobuyuki Watanabe, managing director of Yoikigen Co Ltd, who represents the company in the Japan Mall promotion, said this is the first export and sales of the company to Malaysia this year.
"I was introduced to the Japan Mall project by JETRO Okayama office when I was looking for a new overseas sales channel due to the shrinking market in Japan and overseas, and I decided to participate. It is difficult to develop new sales channels due to perils of Covid-19.
“However, the Japan Mall project has given us new opportunities for business matching and sales promotion," Watanabe told Bernama.
Yoikigen is featuring "Baby Amazake", a nourishing tonic drink for beauty in the Malaysian market via JETRO on the Japan Mall online platform.
"With the sales through the Japan Mall project in Malaysia making a foothold, we aspire to expand our sales channels to Southeast Asia in the future," he added.