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Shopee: Unearthing Hidden Gems, Upsizing Traditional Industries

Shopee’s robust ecosystem provides sellers with the ease to manage their online store-front, reach out to more customers and fulfil customers' orders through integrated logistics management. This has supported many small-scale businesses with e-commerce infrastructure and resources. With more time on hand to run the business, it is no wonder that many local businesses turn to e-commerce platforms to expand their business reach.

Dishing Out Pahang Sambal Hitam to Klang Valley

Khairil Adhzaha, who operates a sambal factory in Bentong, Pahang, is one of Shopee Malaysia’s most successful local sellers. His brand, Tokey Sambal Hitam  was bestowed the Super Favourite Buatan Malaysia title at the recent Shopee Super Awards 2022 for achieving the highest store growth in the last 12 months with excellent customer service.

The Tokey Sambal Hitam factory produces 80 kg of sambal hitam daily and employs 6 skilled and semi-skilled members of the local community to perform daily tasks, from raw ingredient processing to product marketing. According to Khairil, the business set-up was much leaner when he first started in 2009. What started as a hobby quickly turned into a flourishing business when he expanded into Shopee to reach out to audiences beyond Bentong.

“Majority of our customers live around Klang Valley,” Khairil said, reminiscing how e-commerce had contributed significantly to the growth of his business and created larger demand beyond the borders of Bentong. “Being on Shopee has helped my business grow.” He concurred that his sambal business would not have made it, had it not been for the ability of e-commerce to connect customers to businesses.

Khairil explained that sambal hitam is a simple, spicy, and sour condiment, special to Pahang made with ingredients sourced locally such as chillies, belimbing buluh (averrhoa bilimbi), onions and anchovies. 

“Most Malay families in Pahang will have their own recipe. It is so tasty, you will finish a plate of rice with this one simple condiment! Ready-to-eat sambal hitam provides busy working adults with more meal-time convenience. Unlike Bentong, people in Klang Valley work long hours, get stuck in traffic jams and may be too tired to prepare dinner when they get home. That is why there is more demand for ready-to-eat sambal hitam in KL than in Bentong,” Khairil elaborated.

When asked how his business had contributed to the local economy, Khairil said that he sources all of his raw ingredients from local farmers and traders. He orders hundreds of kilograms of supplies such as anchovies, chillies, and onions from local traders. Belimbing buluh however, is sourced directly from local farmers around Selangor, Pahang and Perak. The business currently needs up to 300kg of the sour fruit.

Khairil added that with Tokey Sambal Hitam’s annual business growth projected between 20% and 30%, he foresees an increase of up to 40% in the volume of raw ingredients required. “Being a priority seller on Shopee, I have the advantage of receiving ample help and guidance from my account manager. All these have helped accelerate the growth of my business.”

A little bit of Sabah for West Malaysians

Ex-insurance finance executive, Emilhan Mokhtar, lost his job and returned to Sabah in 2020. With nothing much to do at home and a working capital of RM2,000 he borrowed from his youngest sister, Emilhan purchased brooches made with Sabahan freshwater pearls to sell on Shopee.

“My business was really small when I first started and I had to think outside the box. I sourced for freshwater pearl brooches, a popular souvenir from Sabah, to sell among my network of friends in Kuala Lumpur,” Emilhan explained. 

Today, Emilhan’s online store, Kita Shop Selangor, has grown many folds on Shopee. His success has enabled him to establish a retail store, employing 6 local employees to assist with picking and packing, creating online content and managing the physical store. The brand currently carries between 200 - 300 types of designs, ranging from baby brooches, to shoulder brooches, and large brooches. All of them are sourced from local and indigenous artisans all over Sabah.

“E-Commerce is still a large demand creation platform, and 95% of my customers are from Peninsula Malaysia,” he added, sharing that his online store sells an average of 2,000 brooches monthly. “In 2021 alone, I managed to  switch my business ownership type to Sendirian Berhad.”

Emilhan believes that e-commerce is able to create more demand for brooches made of Sabah freshwater pearls, especially with live selling as it allows sellers to interact with interested users and potential buyers in real-time.

“Over the last few years, we have noticed that a customer may spend at least three times more during a Shopee Live session compared to buying normally from our Shopee store. We believe that they feel more confident with the product quality when they can see it live,” Emilhan added.

Delivering Kerepek Pedas all over Malaysia from Parit Sulong

Kerepek Mastuki sells about 1,200 kilograms of kerepek pedas online to people from all over Malaysia every month. According to its Parcel Leader Fatin Syahirah, Kerepek Mastuki started as a family business in 1991 and had gained popularity within the span of 10 years. Their customers have travelled all the way from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kelantan, Perlis, and Perak to the store in Parit Sulong, Johor to buy kerepek pedas basah.

“Kerepek Mastuki pivoted online on Shopee during the pandemic. We had the advantage of having a large existing client base before coming online. Our customers were also excited to see their favourite snacks easily accessible online,” Fatin shared. Kerepek Mastuki is now producing an average of 19,000 kilograms of kerepek monthly, with chilis and onions sourced from local suppliers.

“We are very grateful to be able to support our community here in Parit Sulong through Kerepek Mastuki. We have expanded the team with many local youths from our town to accommodate our growing business and are happy to give them the opportunity to start their careers with us,” Fatin elaborated further.

Shopee empowers sellers interested in taking their traditional businesses online through various online courses through the Seller Education Hub and Shopee University. To further strengthen their edge, sellers can join the upcoming Shopee Seller Summit in June 2023 and explore the latest value-based trends in the industry, share their experiences, and learn from fellow sellers.