Special Report: Can online sales days be sustained?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 14, 2020 - September 20, 2020.
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DID you shop online on July 7 (7/7), Aug 8 (8/8) or Sept 9 (9/9)? Were the bargains better or was it all just a sales gimmick?

Euromonitor International research analyst Clare Lee says that while sales do receive a shot in the arm on these days, the momentum is getting tougher to maintain.

“These sales promotion dates do boost sales as it gives consumers a sense of savings, and they are inclined to buy more on such days as well,” she says. “However, we have observed some platforms cutting back on such gimmicks as it is getting more difficult to engage customers on these ‘micro sales’ dates when there are too many of these going on.

“These recurring sales could also be for the e-commerce platforms to gain market share,” she says, adding that they would not be sustainable in the long run as customers would need to be given perpetual discounts.

Furthermore, these sales, now being held almost monthly, may cannibalise sales on other days as consumers hold back on their spending until the next sale, she notes.

Lee reveals that one of the most popular sales dates in Malaysia is 11/11, or Nov 11, which used to be promoted as an online sale but has now trickled offline as well.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become more popular online recently due to influence from the West as consumers find it easier to do cross-border shopping,” she says.

Euromonitor data reveals total sales in 2019 through internet retailing was an estimated RM11.17 billion — the bulk of it made through computers and tablets, and a smaller amount via mobile phones.

Of the RM11.17 billion, RM2.78 billion was spent on apparel and footwear, RM737.2 million on media products, RM579 million on consumer electronics and RM296.1 million on consumer appliances.

However, consumers spent far less on purchase of homecare products — a mere RM4.2 million in 2019, albeit from RM600,000 in 2015. Similarly, while video games and hardware only recorded online sales of RM6.2 million in 2019, that was more than double the RM2.4 million spent in 2015.

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