Paving A New Shopping Experience

Executive Director of Jocom M Shopping sheds light on his vision of creating a more convenient and accessible grocery shopping platform for all. A mobile apps specialist; firstly for the game industry and for the largest retailer group; let’s hear what he has to say being a company in the mobile space.

Ambitious and talented CEO in this industry.  Looking at the Future of online shopping is his forte.  Wonder how his journey started for this online business.  Keen to speak to this upcoming entrepreneur.  As you started with Jocom, please share with us the story of your journey. What it’s like to work at Jocom?

We started Jocom back in 2015 as a software house specialising in mobile apps. We started developing apps for a casino and one of the largest retailer groups in Malaysia. We also noticed at that time that many SMEs and many other companies starting to join the mobile space. What we found was that most of them did not have the resources or finances to actually back the software development of mobile apps. Hence, we decided to help the SMEs much easier, and to change our business model to e-commerce; where we allowed our apps to be built on top of a mobile space e-commerce where they could sell their products inside our platform rather than them having their own platform to sell online. Thus when we started Jocom e-commerce, it was started to help the SMEs to build their dreams and business to be online over the apps. But, they don’t pay anything for it. And that’s how we started Jocom. But of things have progressed and we found that e-commerce is becoming one of the fastest trends in Malaysia. Hence, we decided that it’s time for us to move to become M-commerce and e-commerce industry to make sure that everyone has a chance to sell online and at the same time giving them a chance to fully understand what e=commerce in Malaysia is all about.

Working in Jocom is very interesting as most our staff are below the age of 30 and most have recently graduated from various specialities, we have those who graduated as an accounted but with ecommerce background, and we also have staff that graduated in business management but decided to join the ecommerce industry. Our team at Jocom are also from different races. We have staff from Syria, Pakistan, India and also Indonesia. And our team that runs the operations of the ecommerce site is a mix of Malay and Chinese, including Indians. So the environment is always fun. What we’ve noticed is that those who graduate from Accounts or business administration studies easily adapt to the ecommerce work as they are flexible. One thing for sure, the great mix of characters makes working at Jocom really enjoyable.

Feeling as if I am in Google or Facebook talking to an entrepreneur who only has staffs below 30 years of age.  And also from all walks of life, giving opportunity to all to work and get a living from Jocom.  But from all the strengths what are some of the weaknesses so far in this industry.  What has been the biggest let down in your career so far?

So far, the biggest let down unfortunately is that Malaysia is not yet in the right scene for the industry of start-ups. Malaysia is still not ready to adapt things like how Silicone Valley is. When we started Jocom we were actually the first Malaysians who went out to South East Asia to pitch to investors in Japan. And there was no other Malaysians there. In the years 2014 to 2015, during that time in Asia, we were the first guys to reach out to VCs where Malaysia was still new at understanding start-ups. The Malaysian industry scene is not really matured which eventually let us down a lot. Due to the environment in Malaysia, it is not how Silicone Valley or Singapore is. Hence, we’ve had to find our own ways to finance ourselves. The resources in Malaysia is not really enough. So, as an entrepreneur of a start-up, a tech company like this, it’s very hard for us to grow. We decided to do it ourselves, and logistics was a big challenge. When we started, we went to all logistics partners to ask if they could deliver our goods, like fresh vegetables, fresh eggs, fresh juices, fish and crab but none of them actually could do it at that time. And sadly, none wanted to do it for us. They told us doing grocery business in Malaysia was not possible; online and groceries just was not possible. Therefore, with no partner for logistics, we decided to do it ourselves. This is when I thought to myself that Malaysian people are not resourceful and weren’t ready for the scene. So, for me, the biggest let-down is that Malaysian companies are not hungry enough to actually do something that was never done before.

From all the challenges, they persevered.  Seeing how online shopping will be a thing of the future; they never let their sights down in this industry and pushed thru.  What do you see in your current industry? What is the biggest change in the past 5 years?

When we started the online grocery industry, it was just us three guys. Most people didn’t believe in online ordering of groceries at all. They couldn’t adapt and kept saying it wouldn’t work. How it was easier to go to a supermarket. But changes began after Jack Ma came to Malaysia to start running the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) that allowed us to penetrate into different countries and sell our groceries around the world. That started the ecommerce hype and trend. At first, no one believed that e-commerce was so powerful. And no one believed ecommerce could sell to the world. People questioned our ability to send fresh groceries to the homes, restaurants or hotels. Fact is people have been delivering goods to restaurants and hotels, but why not via online? So the past five years, what has changed is that people started believing that the market has a different trend. The trend of traditional business going online is moving very fast. That’s why many have said that retail will slowly collapse. It seems like in the past five years, the retail business is decreasing and degenerating in sales. Most of the sales have moved online. So the main change would be that people are now adapting very fast. Malaysians somehow are a little different to other countries as they often seem to be two to three years later. For example, when we started online groceries, China had done it perhaps 10 years ago. It does look like online will be the method you purchase products. The biggest change aside from being one of the largest online grocery stores, is that people now believe it can be done and is true.

A young troop of entrepreneurs with BIG dreams of the online business.  How has staffing been? How do you grow the human capital for the organisation to ensure sustainability in the long run?

Seriously speaking, we still do not have enough talent in Malaysia to build what we hope to build. For now even larger companies like Alibaba, Lazada or Amazon, there is a lack of talents as the talent pool is very small. Those who work in Lazada or other e-commerce platforms may join you but they are highly paid and not many local companies can afford to pay. So frankly speaking, how have we sustained, “fish” the new guys? We don’t hire the best guys, the best grades, but we hire the attitude. Whether you are admin or you are toilet cleaner or lawyer or our accountant, it all comes down to your passion for e-commerce. If you like e-commerce, we will hire you and try to grow your talent. And try to maintain the human capital without having to invest in a very high price for other players to take over their jobs. We train a normal guy who may not understand ecommerce and try to sustain within the company with a lower bracket salary. That’s how we have been able to sustain ourselves. Ecommerce is actually not something you can learn from a book, it’s actually something you learn from experience and the current markets. You have to understand a bit of everything. So most people in ecommerce, are the jack of all traits. We want to hire those with the right attitude, has the hunger for knowledge and understand what ecommerce is about is how we sustain our human capital. It’s how we also save money; not to hire competitors high paid top guns that would cost the company a lot.

No judgement in this industry.  Talent is the key from top to bottom they look for the passion in the person.  What is the challenge that Jocom facing today? And how do you’ll overcome it as the commander in chief?

If you look at the trend of Malaysia today, e-commerce is growing at a fast rate but there are still about 10 or more years to grow. We are still very new in ecommerce so the challenge for Jocom is about talent, financing and resources. Because in Malaysia for now there is no such thing as the ecommerce degree. So it is now taught by experience, not by books or knowledge transfer. It’s purely by experience, you will have to truly go through a whole cycle to gain the knowledge. These three main issues are our day to day challenges but how do we overcome these challenges? At the end of the day, it’s about timing and also about self-efforts, initiatives, resourcefulness and perseverance.

Very optimistic, passionate, hardworking and perseverance trio.  Wishing them the best in their future undertakings.  Looking EAST is where they will make their money.  What are the next growth and expansion plan for the company?

Recently we have launched our China warehouse with our China partners. However Jocom is a very special platform. Although we sell groceries online, besides our own platform we are very integrated with platforms in Malaysia and within South East Asia as well.

The next three years plan down the road we are expanding to China, Australia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. So the next three to six months, we will be trying to move on to China and Australia at the same time. We make sure that whoever that stays in Malaysia has access to purchasing good from various other countries online without having to fork out money for airfares and travel far to buy something they would like from a specific country in South East Asia. Our main focus is on the food and beverage industry.

So imagine that special snack you wanted to buy from Japan, Taiwan or even Australia, which is not available in Malaysia, we can now ship it back to you when you purchase online.

The second part of our vision is to bring Malaysian products to china and other countries. Malaysia is a country that produces good halal food, and our ISO and GMP; our factories are top class. Halal is a 1 trillion dollar industry and Malaysia contributes 50percent to this aside from Indonesia. And most countries that buy halal products from us from the Middle East and China. For now, there is less than 5% of Malaysian products being exported to China. We are trying to help 3000 SMEs who have the best products in Malaysia to be sent to China. Food and beverage are one of the toughest SKUs to be run on an e-commerce platform.

To get across borders in this industry there are many formalities, checks and authorisation. So, our aim is to assist and help export Malaysian products to other countries.

Our third objective is to build a platform that anyone to buy anything from anywhere.

Allowing cross-border purchases to happen seamlessly. With this cross-border model aims to expand the trade of ecommerce wider and open. Previously there was no way you could ship food in parcels but now you can. Therefore; our third aim is to ensure our cross-border mechanics with the products we have to bring them to other countries.

With these three main objectives, we aim to grow our business before we go into IPO. That’s how we grow our business. And to go IPO we need more resources to achieve this and we are working hard to ensure that we meet our targets. Being more focused on food and beverages it allows us to have a niche.

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