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5 proven ecommerce tips to scale your SME, by serial entrepreneur Kevin Lee of Sellercraft

On September 27, we attended the Time Digital Masterclass titled “Scaling Up Malaysian Startups“.

During the keynote speaker’s session, we learnt from Kevin Lee, the CEO of Sellercraft. It’s an ecommerce service provider that uses tech and AI to provide merchants with services such as sales reports, inventory reports, and financial analysis.

But even before that, Kevin was already familiar with the ecommerce scene, having been a part of Lazada Malaysia’s team since 2012 up until 2020, where he last served as the CBO (Chief Business Officer).

In the 45-minute session, the entrepreneur shared quite a number of takeaways. From those, here are his five tried-and-tested tips on scaling your ecommerce efforts as an SME.

1. Find out your purpose or objective for going online

Citing a report on the Malaysian Social Media Statistics and Facts 2023, Kevin shared that Malaysians are online now more than they sleep. In general, the local population spend an average of nine hours of their time online.

Plus, based on a report by Google Temasek Bain & Company, 95% of digital users in SEA spend their time online at ecommerce platforms.

But with comes the misconception that going online is all a business needs to do to succeed.

“Online is such a buzzword, like, ‘Oh I’m going to go sell online’. But each one of us has to be very clear [on] what is our purpose for going online,” Kevin stated.

“In a competitive landscape, if you’re not sure on your objectives (for going online), you will be very frustrated.” This will also negatively affect your resources as a businessperson, such as money, time, and effort.

2. You should know your “universe”

Kevin acknowledged that the term may sound a bit vague but your “universe” is basically any person or user your business engages with digitally.

In other words, it’s the ecosystem you’re creating that consists of your brand and your customers.

“When I started my own company, I was not interested in this ‘universe’. I was only interested in action,” Kevin confided. And for most sellers, this action translates to selling your products or services for people to buy.

But without knowing one’s universe, you might be wasting valuable resources on ineffective actions.

If the universe you’re building is small then you’d want to focus on building brand awareness and credibility. In this case, every step taken online should meet the objective of having people know the company.

Businesses with bigger universes might go one step further by using their online presence to enhance operations efficiency and convenience. This could be in terms of improving the brand’s shipping, finances, or general operations.

Once you’ve figured out who is a part of your universe and why your business is joining the digital realm, it’ll help you to better align your business strategies to meet those goals.

There’s a structure for that as well. Enter the marketing funnel—awareness, interest, desire, and action. To break it down, the marketing funnel simply refers to a series of stages to guide prospects through the customer journey.

3. Make technological tools work for you

“If I had to give you three guidelines in terms of choosing tools when going online and digital, number one is to make technology work for you.”

This seems simple enough at face value, but it actually refers to how technology is a means to an end, not an end itself. In other words, the tools you have should increase the business’s productivity and help your team find more time for meaningful work.

You should not be jumping on the bandwagon just because your neighbour (or someone else you know) is using a specific tool for their business.

“If you don’t understand your operations or what you want to do with the tools, it will not work for you,” Kevin said.

Thus, tools should be built around your operations and tailored to your specific needs.

Kevin shared that one way to determine if the tool you’re using actually achieves its purpose is to ask yourself these four questions:

Does it help improve your costs?Does it help increase your sales?Does it keep your customers happy?Does it keep your staff happy?

4. Track your data and turn them into actionable insights

“The byproduct of going digital is [that] you have a lot of data,” Kevin explained. This includes obtaining data about your orders, inventories, finances, and customers.

“But data is useless if it’s not changed into insights,” he reminded.

By converting the data your business has into actionable insights, it will help you to better understand customer preferences, enhance financial planning, and streamline certain aspects of the business operations.

For example, citing a study conducted by iPrice Malaysia, he shared that the largest ecommerce shopping spikes in East Malaysia don’t occur during Christmas season. Instead, it’s actually Chinese New Year.

On the same note, he reiterated that it’s important to plan for these massive sale seasons. Businesses need to identify which products are going to sell well, which will be discounted, and how many units of products need to be brought in.

5. Personalise your engagement efforts with your customers

Referencing a Statista study, Kevin shared that sending out personalised content can increase customer engagement by 600%.

Taking his own experience as an example, the founder of Sellercraft explained that back when ecommerce was still gaining traction in Malaysia, cash-on-delivery (COD) deliveries had a higher failure rate. This prompted him and his team to find the cause of it.

“We realised that these COD deliveries were for high purchase value items, such as a phone or TV.” This was when people weren’t very clear that making a purchase today meant a delivery in the next few days.

To solve this, Kevin stated that they introduced a call prior to the delivering process, where he gave customers the option to get the item today or on a later date (after they’ve amassed the cash).

“And that increased the delivery success rate by more than 20%.”

Similarly, by providing frequent enough reminders about your brand and its products, you’re more likely to gain repeat customers.

For example, by sending out a timely and personalised reminder before a previous customer’s purchase of toilet paper is estimated to run out, you’ll increase the chances of gaining their loyalty.

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All that said, these bits of advice are just the tip of the iceberg for SME owners. Some organisations that business owners in Malaysia can seek help from include SME Corp, MRANTI, MDEC, and Cradle.

Starting your entrepreneurial journey may be daunting in the beginning. But the local startup ecosystem is quite welcoming and there are a number of public and private groups available to join as well, such as NextUpAsia on Facebook.

And if you’re looking for more professional advice from entrepreneurs, Time is hosting its next free Digital Masterclass on October 26, 2023. Titled “Fuelling SME growth with AI and SEO”, participants will learn the following on how to:

Create landing pages using tools with features to help SMEsUse customer services (chatbots) for interactions & engagementMeasure and analyse your SEO performance with insights into Google Analytics and Google Search ConsoleTrack SEO goalsMonitor organic traffic and keyword rankings

To sign up for the webinar, interested parties just need to fill out the form here.

Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also ReadHere’s how M’sian SMEs can get 1,000GB of high-speed data at RM50/month to boost their biz

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post

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