The Malaysia Retail Report
Trends and insights shaping the industry
10,000 businesses, from 23 markets
Then we asked 40,000 consumers from 26 markets, including 1,000 from Malaysia if they’re getting it right.
Welcome to the Malaysia Retail Report 2022:
The shape of ambition
When faced with sudden and significant change, ever-pragmatic Malaysians are well-known for responding with resilience and resourcefulness. These qualities have certainly been put to the test during the pandemic. No matter what pandemic-related restrictions were thrown at them, businesses and consumers found a way to get things done.
People turned to ecommerce platforms to create businesses and sell products from home, while food and beverage businesses turned to delivery platforms at a higher rate than anywhere else in APAC. Similarly, consumers embraced new ways to shop online, pay with digital wallets, and use ecommerce apps more than most markets included in our global study.
As a result, 71% of Malaysian businesses across the retail, food and beverage, and hospitality sectors grew their revenue by 20% or more in 2021. Digital transformation has played a pivotal role. In the face of enormous pressure and uncertainty, many looked to innovation.
Malaysians are more optimistic about the future of the sector than other markets in APAC.Having adjusted through this turbulent period, they are now ready for the next phase while setting ambitions for what lies ahead.
For businesses, these ambitions might be in the form of improving customer experience, championing sustainable practices, or expanding into new markets.
One thing is very clear in this research. Businesses that embrace technology to enhance the shopping experience, reward customer loyalty and improve operations have the edge on competitors.
These insights and recommendations are provided to help you shape, grow, and realize your ambitions for 2022 and beyond.
Digital transformation is a MYR 334 billion opportunity.
In spite of – or perhaps because of – the multitude of pandemic-fueled challenges hitting the retail, food and beverage (F&B), and hospitality sectors over the last year, businesses around the world managed to invest in digital technologies. The goal? Improving operations and breaking down silos in backend processes and systems such as payments. More than 1 in 4 businesses connected payment systems to other parts of the organization, such as inventory management and supply chain.
This proved to be the right move. 60% of respondents say their business is now in a better position due to investments to improve operations, showing just how resilient and adaptable Malaysian businesses are. And customers agree. 60% of consumers believe retailers used technology well to make their products available during the pandemic. It is therefore no wonder that 97% of businesses plan to invest further in this area in 2022.
With so much investment planned, it’s time for businesses to take a holistic view of digital transformation. Connecting operations and customer experience is key to success – not just in terms of sales, but also operational efficiency.
Our study shows that there is an 18% increase in growth amongst businesses that connect payment systems across their business compared to those that don’t. This is reflected in their ambitions – the growth projections for 2022 are 11% higher for those who connect their systems compared to those who do not.
Digital transformation is expected to continue opening up a wealth of opportunities. Our research found that 84% of businesses in Malaysia who connected their backend systems grew by 20% or more. And 89% expect to grow 20% or more in 2022, more than most markets globally. Overall, hitting these growth ambitions equates to a MYR 334 billion opportunity – and with so many planning to invest further and grow bigger, that number could be even higher. In fact, if technological adoption is accelerated, the retail sector could add 5.6 percentage points to its growth rate over the next five years.
How does Malaysia compare?
Keith Tan — CEO & Founder, Crown Digital
From insight to action
Connecting opportunities with unified commerce
Businesses that consistently perform best are those that can combine their physical and digital worlds to create a fluid, channel-agnostic experience which prioritizes the customer. This is unified commerce, the next level up from omnichannel sales.
Omnichannel businesses are great at delivering cohesive cross-channel experiences to their customers. But behind the scenes, backend systems are often unconnected, complicating cross-channel reconciliation, limiting the experiences businesses can offer customers, and hindering their operational agility across multiple channels and regions.
With unified commerce, payments from all channels – online, in app, and in store – feed into the same system. This enables more targeted, data-driven decision making, and a more seamless, flexible experience for customers. It also keeps businesses agile since they can add new channels and support new customer journeys quickly because everything’s connected.
77% of consumers believe that retailers should deliver the same cross-channel flexibility they provided during the pandemic.
The flexible, tech-driven experiences made available mid-pandemic have blurred the line between sales channels and encouraged the rise of nonlinear customer journeys. Businesses are providing new or simply different ways to shop, from the convenience of click-and-collect or curbside pick-up to the perks of brand-owned apps – and customers love it. 81% of shoppers reported using shopping apps more frequently during the pandemic.
Both businesses and consumers have a taste for what’s possible with technology – and there’s no going back. 77% of consumers believe that retailers should deliver the same cross-channel flexibility they provided during the pandemic. Keeping up with these expectations greatly improves the likelihood of repeat purchases and higher spending. Falling short could result in the opposite: 81% of consumers will not shop with businesses that have a bad shopping experience, either online or in store.
Businesses must take note of this. Malaysians are amongst the most discerning of customers surveyed, and their willingness to move on from a retailer after just one bad experience is 16% above the global average.
It makes sense that linking online, in-app, and in-store payments with a single system – i.e. unified commerce – has proved to enhance both brand resilience and customer satisfaction. 65% of businesses say online stores were able to offset the losses at physical stores during the pandemic.
And the more channels shoppers use, the higher their value: 62% of businesses say a benefit of unified commerce is improved customer experience. 57% say it helps increase sales and 52% say unified commerce increases customer loyalty.
This brings us to some interesting findings around loyalty programs. Only a handful of brands are making the most of them, although it is an area of the customer experience ripe for innovation. 90% of consumers say retailers should use technology to make their loyalty or rewards schemes easier and more effective – amongst the highest of all markets surveyed. Payment-linked loyalty apps are a good place to start, since 76% of consumers would download a retailer’s app to receive better loyalty rewards.
How does Malaysia compare?
Saad Ahmed — Managing Director - Regional Head of Commercial, Grab
From insight to action
Cross-channel recognition and payment-linked loyalty
Address customer needs in real time
Payments data enables businesses to build a picture of their customers, their purchases, and their preferences in real-time, across every channel and region. With these insights, businesses can investigate their customer segments, understand their behavior, and shape their strategy with confidence.
Recognize and reward loyal customers
Use customer recognition to make loyalty programs more frictionless by removing the need for a traditional loyalty card or app. When customers make a payment online or in a physical store, businesses can automatically recognize them and award them with points, discounts, or a reward.
76% of Malaysians shop at physical stores for pleasure
Despite the rapid adoption of shopping apps, ecommerce and new ways to engage with retailers, shopping and mall culture remain strong in Malaysia. 76% of Malaysians say that online shopping is only for convenience, and they will shop in-store for pleasure, more than any market globally, with 45% of consumers saying they have a new appreciation for being able to touch, feel or physically try products before they buy. Importantly, 62% of consumers say they prefer to shop in-store. This confirms that physical stores are vital avenues for businesses to build genuine relationships with customers.
Businesses acknowledged the importance of physical stores in the immediate future: 64% expect the proportion of revenue to increase from physical stores in the next year, while 58% plan to open more physical stores in the same period.
This doesn’t mean we can stock some shelves, throw open the doors, and expect the crowds to coalesce. It’s about creating a destination that entices: 77% of consumers say physical stores should be exciting places to visit. Stores must offer something more than the products and services available online.
Technology proves pivotal in creating an in-store experience worth visiting. From endless aisle shopping – providing kiosks or terminals to check additional stock for home delivery – to offering new ways to pay through QR codes or mobile payment terminals, 87% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with retailers that use technology to improve the shopping experience.
Even more crucial is the ability to connect online and physical channels to ensure a truly seamless experience: 74% of consumers would be more loyal to a retailer that lets them buy products online and return them in store. Surprisingly, only 30% of businesses say they currently provide this option.
Customer and service staff experiences are inextricably intertwined; any technology leveraged for in-store experiences should help, not hinder, operation teams. 75% of consumers say they would love it if in-store sales assistants used technology to assemble items from their online wishlist in the changing room ready to try on.
How does Malaysia compare?
Nathan Alexander — CTO, R.M.Williams
From insight to action
Driving in-store convenience through technology
Enhance in-person payments
Make donations easier
Localize the checkout
36% of businesses use payments data to understand user behavior and improve customer experience.
Our research shows that consumers want businesses to recognize, predict, and meet their needs in a relevant and timely way: 67% of consumers prefer retailers who remember their preferences and previous shopping behaviors to create a more tailored shopping experience. Businesses that can leverage real time data insights instead of relying on historic data will be best placed to deliver these personalized, sophisticated experiences.
The insights unlocked via payments data, and particularly unified payments, allow businesses to act more immediately on what consumers are telling them. A growing number of businesses are leveraging this opportunity – but many are still missing out. 36% of businesses use payments data to understand user behavior and improve customer experience, and 39% to build a better picture of their customers.
Those businesses that are using payments data can identify popular product lines, inform inventory management, create personalized marketing campaigns, and inform decision making – a testament to the wealth of insights made possible through payments data.
Businesses diving into the payments data pool need to keep a few crucial things in mind. Unlike other jurisdictions, Malaysia has no specific law such as a Privacy Act to protect personal privacy. However, they do have a very stringent Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA), which deals with personal data and focuses on regulating the processing of ‘personal data’ in commercial transactions. In law for some time, this could contribute to why Malaysians are increasingly demanding responsible use of their personal data.
45% of consumers believe retailers shouldn’t be able to use their data or purchase behavior information unless they give express permission. And 50% of consumers will only allow data to be stored and used by retailers if there are assurances around security and privacy. Businesses need to stay informed and compliant to protect shoppers and themselves from data breaches and fraud.
How does Malaysia compare?
Casper Mooyman — Head of Marketing, Domino’s
From insight to action
Securing trust with smooth payment authentication
No ecommerce strategy is complete without a clear plan for Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), especially since consumers expect the process to be fast, with no action required from them. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to applying SCA, but the right technology partner will take care of this for businesses.
Implementing authentication protocols, even when required by regulations, helps to reduce fraud – but there are additional steps businesses should take to ensure secure payments.
With the Adyen Authentication Engine, we won’t trigger 3D Secure for out-of-scope transactions or exemptions. We'll also skip 3D Secure if the issuing bank doesn’t enforce it.
A resilient industry with new ambition
Whilst Malaysia’s impressive resilience and ability to adapt have been key themes during the pandemic and beyond, there is also huge opportunity.
Malaysian consumers’ preference for tech to permeate the physical in- store experience is considerably above the global average. Businesses are looking to embrace tech more than ever to answer this demand. Investing in technology across the entire business will help organizations adapt to whatever comes next and outperform the competitors.
At Adyen, our focus is, and always has been, on supporting long-term, sustainable growth. We’re committed to ensuring our customers remain at the forefront of this ever-evolving industry and look forward to speaking with you about how payments can be the strategic growth driver you’re looking for.
Opinium Research LLP polled 40,020 adults in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, UAE, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Brazil, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland and India. Respondents were incentivized to participate.
Censuswide polled 11,530 merchants in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, UAE, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Brazil, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico and Ireland. Respondents were incentivised to participate.
Fieldwork was conducted between 23 December 2021 - 8 February 2022.
The sample includes minimum quotas of 100 in retail, 50 in travel and hospitality, 50 in food & beverage per market.
Opinium and Censuswide campaigns are conducted in accordance with all ESOMAR principles and best practice.
We commissioned the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) to provide analysis on the current state of retail, hospitality, and F&B businesses around the world.