What are Malaysia's Top E-commerce Product Categories?

Ruth L. & Katrina B.
Malaysia's top e-commerce categories are consumer electronics, fashion, food and personal care products

To Malaysians, the Internet has become a significant part of their lives. About nine in 10 Malaysians 15 years and older use the internet and on average, they spend more than eight hours a day online. Almost one in four use some of this time to fuel the e-commerce economy as online shoppers, or e-commerce consumers.

Online spending is flourishing and exciting times wait ahead. To enhance the local e-commerce landscape, the Malaysian government has spearheaded the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap (NeSR). Developed in 2016, this initiative includes programmes such as transforming Malaysia into a regional eFulfillment hub and refining Malaysia’s last-mile delivery network.

Malaysia is indeed a lucrative market for e-commerce sellers. And when online merchants take the time to understand their market and consumers’ buying patterns, they improve their chances of serving their customers well.

Popular Product Categories for Malaysian E-commerce

One of the most important things online merchants need to know when assessing a new market is the demand for products. While sources may differ, it’s generally agreed that the three most popular categories for Malaysian e-commerce consumers are:

  1. Electronics and media

  2. Fashion and beauty

  3. Food and personal care

A list of top Google shopping queries in Malaysia in 2018 also shows local consumers’ penchant for electronics, as well as for fashionable items and toys.

Wearesocial and Hootsuite's Top Malaysian Google Shopping Queries
Image source – We Are Social, Hootsuite

Men and Women’s Fashion

Malaysian e-commerce fashion revenue tripled in 2018 for the country’s most visited online shopping platform, Lazada. Another highly patronised online store was Hermo, which sells beauty and personal care products. Nearly half of these online fashion buyers were young, single, and female.

Local Malaysian fashion brands also tend to be more popular than regional and even international players, and Instagram is the best springboard for driving sales. Hijab fashion is also profitable; during Ramadan in 2018, three local fashion e-commerce platforms garnered the most searches: Fashion Valet, Muslimah Clothing and Naelofar Hijab.

Male fashion is also very popular, with Shopee survey respondents saying their main online buys are:

  • Clothing

  • Accessories

  • Shoes

  • Bags and wallets

  • Muslim fashion

When preparing for Hari Raya, women’s top buys include men’s clothing and shoes as well. This is driven by Malaysians’ penchant for buying gifts for friends and family to help celebrate cultural festivals.

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2019 Guide to Entering Malaysia’s E-commerce Market

Food and Personal Care

Malaysians often put food deliveries and groceries into their virtual shopping baskets. Case in point: Malaysians collectively bought more than 27 tonnes of Milo in the first two hours of Lazada’s 11.11 sale in 2018.

In fact, online grocery sales in Malaysia ballooned 88 per cent in 2017. Malaysian e-commerce sales for FMCG purchases grew 50 per cent between June 2017 and June 2018.

Under Personal Care, Health & Beauty products are widely popular, making up the majority of sales during Shopee’s 9.9 sale in 2018.

Notable Mentions – Mom & Baby, Kids & Toys

It’s also important not to overlook Mom & Baby categories, as well as Kids & Toys. Keep in mind that Nintendo Switch and Lego were among the top 20 Google shopping queries in Malaysia in 2018.

And during Singles’ Day—one of the country’s most popular online sales events—in 2018, diapers were among the most popular items, with more than 4.5 million pieces sold within a day.

In fact, a report on Shopee users shows that buyers in the areas of Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu mostly bought items for mothers, kids, and babies. The report noted that “diapers, baby rompers, playmats and breast pumps” were the most purchased items.

Interestingly, data shows that men are thrice as likely to buy e-commerce baby goods if their income exceeds RM 7,000.

From the World to Malaysian Doorsteps

Malaysian e-commerce consumers are attracting online merchants from around Southeast Asia. Hungry for domestic and overseas products, they shop online regularly for a myriad of items, chiefly fashion and beauty products, electronic goods and media, household items and groceries, and even furniture.

It is important to find the right partner able to bridge the gap between seller and buyer, not only within Malaysia but across all of Southeast Asia. Given that 40 per cent of all Malaysian e-commerce is cross-border, finding a competent service provider with cross-border capabilities and customs know-how makes international shipping for e-commerce a much smoother and pain-free journey.

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