Malaysia is a large and often overlooked market in Southeast Asia.

Malaysia has 20 million online consumers and its GDP per capita (US$29,100) is one of the highest in the region. Yet, ecommerce activity is relatively low in the country, only accounting for 2.7% of GDP.

So, what are brands doing in Malaysia to engage with the country’s consumers online? And what obstacles are they facing when trying to increase their digital footprint?

To find out, Econsultancy, in association with Resulticks, recently surveyed marketers and ecommerce professionals in the country, along with others throughout the region, and asked them about their priorities in 2019 and the challenges that they are facing.

Survey results from Malaysia are summarized below, but you can see results for the whole region in our new report, The Omnichannel Imperative, available here.

1) Marketers in Malaysia are confident about their ability to engage customers online

First off, we asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement:

‘We take an integrated approach to customer engagement across different channels, leveraging 1st, 2nd and 3rd party customer data, with technology and processes to support this.’

More than 7 in 10 of survey takers (71%) agreed either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ with this statement, slightly higher than the regional average (70%). This result is a strong signal that Malaysian marketers are leveraging data and technology to drive online business in the country.

The percentage which disagreed (23%), however, was also greater than the regional average (18%) and far higher than neighbouring Singapore (5%).

So, while a sizable majority of marketers in the country are confident about their digital engagement efforts, there is still a large segment of the industry who see room for improvement.

2) Data acquisition and integration are the biggest challenges faced by Malaysian marketers

Drilling down on the engagement question, we asked participants about the main challenges they faced when carrying out omnichannel marketing across different channels.

The most popular response, chosen by 50% of respondents, was ‘Incomplete customer data across all channels’. This figure was noticeably higher than the regional average (35%) and far higher than Vietnam (30%).

‘Poor Data integration across systems / manual processes’ was the second most popular response. Picked by 48% of respondents from Malaysia, this was again higher than the regional average (38%) and significantly more than the response from marketers in the Philippines (32%).

These responses indicate that marketers in the country have taken the first steps in providing omnichannel marketing to their customers but have now reached the stage where data management and integration is becoming a problem. This issue may be the result of companies adopting different systems for various channels (social media, email, customer service) and finding that sharing data between systems can be quite challenging.

3) Current systems are not helping marketers in Malaysia meet their challenges

When asked how they rated their current vendor for a variety of capabilities, nearly one in three respondents (30%) from Malaysia rated their system as ‘poor’ for ‘Data integration / Unified view of data across all channels’. This response was higher than the regional average (19%) and from survey takers in Vietnam (16%).

This reinforces the notion that marketers in Malaysia may be using a patchwork of marketing technology platforms currently and, as a result, are struggling to use them together to provide a seamless customer experience.

Also interesting to note is that only 13% of respondents in Malaysia said that their current solutions were poor with regards to ‘ability to scale’, less than the regional average (19%) and far below the response from marketers in Indonesia (45%). This low figure could indicate that Malaysian marketers are not yet deploying omnichannel at scale, perhaps due to data management issues.

4) Malaysian marketers are prioritising mapping the customer journey

Finally, respondents were asked which marketing concepts were a priority for them and their company in 2019. Nearly two in three Malaysian participants (65%) selected ‘customer journey mapping’ as a priority, greater than the regional average (44%) and more than double the response from marketers from Singapore (30%).

From this result, it seems that marketers in Malaysia are more focused on customer acquisition than their regional peers and may not be devoting their attention to how digital platforms can be used for additional engagement opportunities, such as post-purchase offers or ongoing customer service.

Regardless, from the results overall, companies in Malaysia clearly have some work to do with obtaining, managing and integrating customer data so that they can increase digital engagement and increase the reach of ecommerce in the country.

For more data, charts and insights from marketers across Southeast Asia, please download the full report, The Omnichannel Imperative.