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Malaysia Boleh! 4 Niche Marketplaces Based in Malaysia

Malaysia, Petronas Towers, Night View

The e-commerce business is booming in Malaysia, characterized by the increasing popularity of online shopping among local consumers despite the concept of online marketplaces being relatively new to Southeast Asia. In fact, Malaysians are ranked amongst the world's most avid online shoppers. In line with this phenomenon, the Malaysian business scene is also witnessing a gradual increase in the creation of sharing economy platforms.


It is not surprising to see that many of these platforms share familiar concepts with already established global brands, as it is now increasingly rare to see an original sharing economy model that is unheard of. This prompts the following question: What are some characteristics of overseas-inspired niche marketplaces based in Malaysia? We will look into four examples of marketplaces in Malaysia that share similar concepts with popular marketplaces overseas.


This service marketplace for Southeast Asia was founded by two former lawyers who observed the success of Thumbtack in the US. Kaodim, translated from "job done" in Cantonese, matches consumers who are looking for services with a corresponding provider. Having successfully raised US$4 million in 2015, the startup has since expanded their business beyond Malaysia and is now operating in major Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines.


Photo credit: Kaodim.


While customers use the app for free, suppliers are charged for posting and responding to requests on the platform. With protocols in place, the marketplace ensures that both customers and suppliers are protected via background verification upon signing up, profiles detailing information about the supplier, and also verified reviews. Kaodim was able to attract approximately 500 vendors within a month of its official launch, and is now the leading platform for services in Malaysia.


The pride of Malaysia's start-up scene, popular ride-hailing application Grab (formerly known as GrabTaxi or MyTeksi), rose to prominence in 2014 after it raised a whopping sum of US$240 million in funding in its series D funding round. Apart from being an investor magnet, the company is also popular with cabbies and passengers, and is competing with ride-sharing giant Uber to be Southeast Asia's leading ride-hailing platform. Grab now operates in 30 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia.


Grab earns money by taking a cut of booking fees, which varies according to the location, timing and distance of the trip. The market leadership position of Grab can be attributed to its focus on the region, which allows them to gain a better understanding on local terrain and tailor their approaches accordingly – towards both cabbies and passengers. In less than 4 years, they managed to attract 200,000 drivers across six countries and 11 million downloads for their mobile apps.


High on the Malaysian Alexa ranking, this online auction and shopping website – basically a Malaysian eBay – is one of the most visited websites in Malaysia. Founded back in 1998, it is one of the oldest and largest eCommerce site in Malaysia. While the site is limited only to South East Asia users, the home-grown brand boasts approximately 6,000 active sellers who offer a wide range of products, with six million site visitors every month and a yearly transaction of up to RM150 million in 2014.


Lelong is a popular marketplace where sellers can open their store and sell products, which gives sellers a lot of flexibilities, including shipping methods and checkout payment selection. It charges a yearly subscription fees to its sellers. Products range from well-known international brands to local brands, with discounts and special offers being offered on a daily basis. In addition, Lelong comes with an online application which makes it much easier for consumers to do their shopping on-the-go.


While the idea of neighbour-to-neighbor food sharing might have seemed quite astonishing and impossible in the past, plenty of meal-sharing platforms has sprung up all over the globe in recent years, thanks to the technology which facilitates the sharing economy. Based in Kuala Lumpar, MakanSharing is a prominent Malaysian marketplace for home cooked food which aims to connect food lovers directly with home cooks through exclusive dining spaces and even home-cooked delivery and takeaway services.


Photo credit: Makansharing.


MakanSharing offers its diners access to a huge range of home-cooked delicacies that are unique to Malaysia, including Pandan Gula Melaka Cupcakes and Ayam Masak Merah. You can even rent a MakanTruck or engage the marketplace to host your own customized MakanEvents, which will be held at a MakanSpace or any physical location whereby the owner allows and welcomes others to host the event.

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