How To Start An Online Store In Malaysia (And Make Money)

How to start an online store in Malaysia? With the constant threat from COVID-19 and unemployment, Malaysians are seeking for an online business model, working on side income and building passive income streams to survive. The advancement of technology, namely Facebook, Instagram, Google, Amazon and Shopify has made it easier for Malaysians to start an online store and to build a successful online business with eCommerce.

But the process of making money online requires the right steps or frameworks to grow your online business. With the sea of competition right now, you can't just hop onto any eCommerce platform and start an online shop — hoping to generate sales instantly or in a short period.

Make no mistake.

eCommerce is a growing business model in Malaysia and with the right product ideas and marketing tactic, startng online stores will be one of the most lucrative business ideas for 2021.

In this article, you will find the strategies, platform and tools needed to start an eCommerce business in Malaysia, eCommerce resource and the strategies you need to grow your eCommerce business.

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    Fundamentals to an online store

    • Start by finding the niche or industry you are interested in.
    • Focus on searching for products or services that solve problems in the industry.
    • List down the top 10 competitors, businesses, stores and websites that are already available in the market.
    • Create a business plan or strategy to build a strong brand name, increases brand visibility and solving problems or challenges faced by your potential customers.
    • Build an eCommerce workflow that includes checkout page, order bumps, discounts and remarketing methods to increase your chance of making a sale.
    • Analyze and invest in paid advertisements to build momentum for your eCommerce business especially in the early stages (social media advertising is higher recommended).
    • Invest in email marketing to engage with both your potential customers and existing ones for repeated orders).

    Step 1: Finding the right eCommerce business in Malaysia

    This is the hardest and most time-consuming part when it comes to setting up an eCommerce business. Shopify allows anyone can launch an online store in just a few minutes without any coding skills — but if there is no demand for your product(s), you are wasting money and resources.

    10 tips to choose an eCommerce niche under 30 minutes or less

    • Follow your passion
    • Conduct some keyword research to determine the supply and demand curve
    • Check out the competition
    • Look for high-dollar options (a.k.a. high ticket items)
    Best Ecommerce Niches
    • Assess your resources and assets
    • Look beyond the category and don't forget the market trends
    • Start with a problem followed by the solution (your product = problem solver)
    • Walk the neighbourhood and get inspirations
    • Track the trends in Malaysia and around the globe
    • Define your unique selling point (USP)

    Here's an awesome video resource by Neil Patel on how to sell high ticket products.

    Step 2: Finding the right eCommerce product to sell online

    The second part of the equation is to provide a solution or service that truly solves the industry's problem. For example, Shopify is extremely popular in Malaysia especially when it comes to launching online stores as it is beginner-friendly, comes with drag and drop builder and it is an absolutely no-code required web design. Heck, it even offers step by step guide on how to connect your online store to over a dozen payment gateways around the world (yes, this is where you collect money)!

    The process of finding the right type of product to sell to your target audience is an important step for your online store success.

    Did you know that you can even sell physical products with an eCommerce store?

    Which is the most profitable eCommerce product to sell?

    There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing a profitable eCommerce product to sell.

    Here are some criteria I used to find the best eCommerce products to promote.

    Best Ecommerce Products To Promote
    • Currently in demand
    • Potentially in demand in the coming 3 to 6 months
    • Short production period or ready stock as added advantage
    • High usability in daily life (and avoid trends)
    • Buyer's affordability
    • Moderate to higher profit (more than 20% profit per sale)
    • Moderate number of competitors
    • Imitations and fakes are either not available or not reliable/trusted

    Step 3: Build an eCommerce store under 60 minutes or less

    The next step in building your eCommerce business is to start building your eCommerce store. Here, you are required to choose an eCommerce platform to bring your store to life.

    A few great eCommerce tools for Malaysian businesses are:

    • Shopify
    • WordPress with WooCommerce integration
    • Webflow eCommerce


    Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform that allows anyone to set up an online store and sell their products. For merchants who operate with brick and mortar businesses, they can also sell their products in person with Shopify POS.

    Shopify For Ecommerce Malaysia

    Shopify makes it easy for anyone to launch their online store, collect credit card payment through payment gateway), storing important details of your shopper and apply taxes where needed.

    The majority of business owner in Malaysia tends to prefer Shopify over other store platforms as it is best for beginners, automated shipping rates and doesn't require hours of work (to launch the store).

    How much does Shopify costs in Malaysia?

    Shopify Malaysia comes with several pricing. The basic pricing starts from $29 per month (approximately RM120 per month).

    Everything you need to know about Shopify (and why it matters to you)

    Shopify is one of the most popular options when it comes to launching eCommerce stores in Malaysia.

    Drag and drop visual builder, integrated payment gateways and an inbuilt eCommerce cart makes Shopify an excellent choice for Malaysians who want to start an online store.

    WordPress with WooCommerce integration

    Wordpress & Woocommerce For Ecommerce Malaysia

    WordPress with WooCommerce integration is a popular set of eCommerce tool that is often used by web freelancers and web design agencies.

    WordPress is an open-sourced CMS that allows you to quickly build commerce sites without much coding skills.

    With WooCommerce plugin, WordPress becomes a powerhouse and unlocks element such as eCommerce business modules for you to start selling products online.

    Launching a WordPress and WooCommerce online business is easy and comes with many step by step guide.

    How much does it cost to start a WordPress and WooCommerce store in Malaysia?

    On average, the web development for WordPress eCommerce in Malaysia starts from RM2,500.00 per project and can go as high as RM50,000 or more depending on the complexity of the project.

    The Marketing Huddle Project — Affordable & reliable freelance website developer

    Mission-critical: Finding the right web developer could be messy, time-consuming and headache.

    One of the Marketing Huddle Project is to give back to the community by providing affordable and reliable freelance website gigs (often below market price).

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    Building an eCommerce store with Webflow

    Webflow is the most popular no code design tool, eCommerce solution and WordPress competitor. With Webflow, you can quickly build an online shopper platform to start selling.

    Many successful eCommerce businesses and international commerce brands had used Webflow making it one of the most powerful eCommerce platform without coding skills.

    How much does it cost to start an online website with Webflow?

    It starts around $16 per month and after conversion, it costs approximately RM64.00 with a 4x exchange rate to US Dollars.

    Get started with Webflow

    Webflow is an easy to use, codeless application that allows you to build an eCommerce store from scratch. 

    It is extremely beginner friendly and by far, one of the highest in-demand website development tool for online stores.

    Step 4: Integrating your online store with payment processing software

    Popular Payment Gateways And Solutions For Ecommerce

    Online stores are all about selling products online while being able to charge the shopper credit card on the fly. When it comes to an eCommerce platform, I often recommend using a reliable payment gateway (or gateways) to collect credit card payments.

    Payment gateways are not only used as a third party payment collector, but they should also allow you to capture email address, collecting important details of your shopper and other factors that will impact your shipping costs.

    Here is the list of the most popular payment gateways for online business owner in Malaysia:

    • PayPal
    • Stripe
    • iPay88
    • MOLpay
    • SenangPay

    Things to look out when connecting a payment gateway

    Technology makes it easy for anyone to integrate various payment gateways to any eCommerce stores. But as easy as it sounds, there are things you need to take note when adding payment gateways to your eComm stores.

    Here are some of them:

    • The exchange rates from other currencies to Malaysian Ringgit
    • Any fees that may incur when using the collection processors
    • How long it takes to withdrawal the funds to your local bank accounts

    Step 5: Uploading products to online store

    Uploading Products To Ecommerce Stores Online

    Once your storefront is ready, the next step now is to start to upload your products to your online shopping cart. This process involves uploading high-resolution images of your products and it is crucial to provide more than one view/angle for the photo.

    Photos and graphic play an important role in determining the success of selling a product online.

    Use the right graphic for your products

    Graphic will either make or break your online business. In this case, you need to upload only quality images (a.k.a. high-resolution images) and shots taken from multiple angles.

    The better the image quality, the higher chance you can get more sales.

    Step 6: Updating product description

    Updating the product description is not a walk in the park. You need to pay attention and here's why.

    Importance Of Product Descriptions In Ecommerce Online Stores

    Business owners tend to ignore the importance of updating the right product description. Always remember that proper descriptions are required to provide relevant information to the buyers, as well as convincing them that the product is the right choice.

    Important: Always display the benefit(s) of buying the product. This will further encourage users and shoppers to make a purchase. Plus, a well-written99874 description will also boost your site's ranking on search engines.

    Crafting product descriptions with buyer's intent

    How long does it take you to write a product description? You see, a production description is more than just what the buyer will be getting. It is all about using the right words and integrating the buyer's intent that will trigger the feeling of buying a product online.

    Spend time writing the production description and if needed, hire a professional product description writer that will do a ton of wonders for your online biz.

    Step 7: Testing your payment gateway

    Test Your Ecommerce Store Before Launching

    Once everything is done and integrated, the next step in the plans is to test your payment gateway. Make sure you are using different credit or debit cards on your storefront to test on the payment and purchase confirmation.

    The goal here is to avoid any mishap during your launch and you certainly don't want to attract negative reviews on your online business.

    Creating sandbox environment for testing

    Testing your newly integrated payment gateway on your online store may sound challenging but it is not.

    Payment gateway solutions such as PayPal and Stripe come with sandbox environment a.k.a. a testing environment where you can perform payment tests without any real charge on the credit cards.

    Testing debit card, credit card and bank account charging don't take a long time and you should always perform this task before launching your eCommerce store.

    Step 8: Optimize your online store business

    How To Optimize Your Ecommerce Store

    While this is the last step in creating an online store, the process is far from over. This step is repeatable and I recommend you to repeat it at least once a month.

    Optimize your online store involves revisiting your marketing plans, tactics and business model.

    Here, you need to determine if anything can be improved to increase your profit margin, making your team working more efficiently and improves the productivity levels.

    Here are some great business tips that you can use:

    • Dedicate a budget for online advertising (Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, etc.)
    • Analyze the reports generated from Google analytics and determine the sets of keyword, common question and other search results that generate you traffic
    • Determine where buyer's drop off from the sales funnel and improve the funnel
    • Take a stroll on eBay, Amazon and social media platforms to determine the current trends that you can use for your eCommerce

    Tips #1: Social media advertising for eCommerce

    Social media advertising, when done right, provides one of the best return of investment (ROI) for eCommerce and online stores.

    Social Media Advertising For Ecommerce

    With social media advertising, you can reach out to a wide range of laser-targeted audience around the world in just a few clicks of the button and some advertisement budget.

    On average, you should allocate around RM20 to RM50 per day for social media advertising and marketing.

    Tip #2: Google advertising for eCommerce

    Google Advertising For Ecommerce

    When it comes to eCommerce, Google Ads and Google advertising is the powerhouse for serious online business owners who want success.

    Google advertising costs more than Facebook and Twitter advertising but it offers higher ROI in many cases.

    Advertising your products on Google Ads will showcase your products to more ready-to-buy buyers, thus it will increase your conversion rates dramatically.

    On average, you should allocate around RM50 to RM100 per day for Google advertising and Google marketing.

    Tip #3: Search engine optimisation for eCommerce

    Last but not least, SEO is important. A properly done SEO campaign will improve your website visibility through higher rankings on Google Search.

    Search Engine Optimisation For Ecommerce

    As a result, you will generate more organic traffic (a.k.a. free traffic from Google) for your online store. The constant growth of organic traffic will save you money as you can reduce the advertising budget.

    Summary — How to start an eCommerce business in Malaysia (and make money online)?

    I'm not going to lie to you. The process of creating an eCommerce business in Malaysia takes more time and effort that you can ever imagine.

    With the right motivation, this is a very lucrative business venture and idea that is growing in Malaysia. Leveraging this strategy now will most likely help you to improve your financials over the course of 12 months or so!

    Starting an online store in Malaysia without inventory is quite easy. You can start by offering on-demand products such as on-demand printing. You can also offer pre-orders in your eCommerce store and this doesn't require any inventory.

    Most eCommerce businesses require at least some modal to start. Without investment, it is hard to grow even during the start up stage. 

    If you are planning to start an online store without investment in Malaysia, I recommend offering on-demand services (due to low cost involved and no inventory required).

    The easiest way to become an online seller in Malaysia is to have a product or idea that you can promote and sell. Don't forget that you need to register your business with the Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM).

    Yes, all businesses in Malaysia (including online businesses) require to have a license to operate. 

    When you operate a business without the proper licenses, you risk heavy fines. In addition, the city or state may require you to cease operations until you complete the required paperwork.

    It costs at least RM30 per year to create a company in Malaysia.

    According to Lazada Malaysia's data, Home and Lifestyle products topped the list of categories whose items were purchased the most. This was followed by accessories (electronic and fashion), health and beauty and fashion (men and women).

    The best way is to start with an idea. From there, work on the competitors, market demand and ultimately, the product or service that provides a solution that solves the public's problem.

    With Shopify, you can integrate your site with local Malaysian payment gateways like iPay88 and MOLPay without touching any code either. With 1-click integration, you can set up your e-commerce website to start collecting payments using online bank transfer from local Malaysian banks or credit cards.

    Is Shopify free to use? No, but you can get started with Shopify on their 14-day free trial. During the trial, you can build your store and make it available to the public.

    Click here to get Shopify 14-days free trial.

    Shopify is very powerful but still user-friendly. It's easy to scale for small and big online stores. Shopify App Store is packed with useful (free and paid) add-ons for your store (e.g. email marketing integrations).

    On top of that, they have a large community of independent developers and experts ready to help you.

    Overall rating. Shopify is the best eCommerce platform on the market today. It's designed to help people build their own, scalable online store with hundreds of built-in features, and tons of apps.

    You can sell products directly on your website, and across multiple marketplaces and social media.

    Yes, Stripe is available in Malaysia. Businesses all across the country can now easily accept and manage payments, and access the full Stripe stack including Billing, Connect, Radar and Sigma.

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