StoreHub: “We knew we had to act fast to save as many stores as we can.”

With the on-going Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia, SMEs nationwide are faced with limited options to keep business moving. As part of our #LeadershipInAction campaign, the team at Engage SEA had the privilege to gain insights from Xin-Ci Chin, the Head of Marketing at StoreHub, on how the brand is stepping up to help SMEs weather the current climate and stay afloat. Explore her thoughts below.

Engage SEA: What were some of the biggest challenges StoreHub faced as a result of the MCO and COVID-19 crisis?

Xin-Ci Chin, Head of Marketing, StoreHub: When the MCO was announced, we knew that a large number of our F&B customers would suffer. There are 200,000 F&B businesses in Malaysia — most of whom are at risk of shutting down if they cannot find a way to serve customers beyond dine-ins. On the first day of the MCO, revenue dropped to 85 percent, with a majority of our customers generating zero revenue in sales. 

Engage SEA: Clearly, the impact rippled across immediately.

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: Yes, and timing was critical. We knew we had to act fast to save as many stores as we can. The StoreHub team pulled all-nighters to build and launched Beep Delivery to #SaveOurStores in about 48 hours. With Beep Delivery, restaurants now have an online ordering platform that makes things super easy for merchants: collecting orders, accepting payments, and finding a delivery partner.

Engage SEA: Congratulations on the launch of Beep Delivery! That was a fast turnaround.

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: Thank you! We’re glad we were able to step up when our customers really needed us the most.

Engage SEA: In times like these especially with cash flow and business continuity challenges, every single decision matters. Are you using insights from data to drive decision-making?

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: We are, as much as we can.

Engage SEA: How so?

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: The truth is we are now living in unprecedented times. Never before has majority of the world been home bound with businesses forced to shut down in response to a viral threat. In response, we are trusting our instincts, observing history as much as we can (for instance referencing China in their war against SARS in 2003) and using all available data (transaction growth, consumer behaviour patterns) to validate our assumptions. 

Engage SEA: What can brands do now to keep business moving and prepare for the post-MCO period?

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: For now, if you’re not yet online — it’s time to do so. Invest in ecommerce, food delivery, digitisation of your business.

“The reality is we are not going to be able to go back to ‘the way things were’ post-MCO.”

We have to prepare for what is the new normal — a world where social distancing, e-commerce and cashless payments are the norm, where international travel might continue to be impacted for a prolonged period of time. Take the time to understand how your consumer behaviours would evolve as a result of COVID19, because they will. 

Engage SEA: That is sound and practical advice for businesses to put into action. What is your view of the stimulus packages offered to SMEs?

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: While the first stimulus package was great for helping Malaysians (especially those in the B40 category) get by during this difficult time, I worry that the second stimulus package is simply not enough to help keep businesses afloat especially if there is a prolonged MCO. 

Without revenue (most SMEs cannot operate during the MCO), these businesses will be forced to shut down. Countries like Singapore, Canada, have introduced wage subsidies to help alleviate the financial burden of businesses, which will in turn preserve jobs. 

Engage SEA: How should the corporate sector play its part to support these?

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: But it is also not enough to simply rely on the government for handouts. Businesses need to work together and partner to support each other during this difficult time. StoreHub, for instance, has partnered with other startups in the ecosystem such as GoGet, TheLorry, Lalamove and Teleport to handle deliveries.

“It’s really heartening to see the business community come together to support each other this way.”

Some of our F&B merchants like IDC Cafe, Strangers at 47 and Whisk have partnered to cross-promote products from each other to their customers. Some have even listed products from neighbouring shops who are not offering delivery services to help boost sales. It’s really heartening to see the business community come together to support each other this way. 

Engage SEA: We’re glad to see the community coming together to help each other out. Clearly, well-informed decisions are the key to adapting to the new normal and emerging stronger. It’s been enlightening to hear from you. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us.

Xin-Ci Chin, StoreHub: Thank you for featuring us!

Looking to boost your business strategy with market intelligence and brand sentiment? Leave it to the experts! Our team at Engage SEA will work hand in hand to support you in keeping your business moving. Chat with us today to track your brand health and listen to what your customers are saying in real-time.

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