The fast-paced developments of internet facilities continued to shed brighter spotlights for facilities like online transactions and marketplaces – bringing e-commerce and online shopping trend to a stronger stand that it was several years ago.
If you’re familiar with smartphones, then most likely you’ll also be familiar with marketplaces like e-Bay, AliExpress and Zalora – the place where you can buy goods and have them delivered straight to your doors just a click away from your fingertips.
That convenience and the experience when browsing goods, and later paying them without cash is something that has garnered attention not just from people in Brunei, but also those around the world.
While Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) last year found that 76 percent of Bruneians are well adapted to this trend, like any growing nation, Brunei definitely have its own challenges in bringing up its own e-commerce industry.
Despite the high adoption rate, AITI said most of the transactions made were for overseas markets – and less for the local ones.
Online shoppers shared insights over their concerns for the trend, which especially rose whenever they have to make big purchases over the internet.
Preference for direct purchases at physical shops
Some customers usually weight down their decision based on the amount they are spending. The bigger their purchases are, the greater the decision they have to make.
They would have to look at whether the goods are exactly as described; its size, color, materials, such that if there is an available shop nearby them, they would prefer to go there instead of purchasing online.
Online purchases to some, are just to find goods that are not available here in Brunei; or are sold way cheaper that it is in the country.
Fear of credit and debit card fraud
When it comes to big purchases, often people would be wary if whether the things they spent on are actually legit.
In AITI’s survey, this concern scored the highest, especially among the millennials group. It is definitely important to address this problem in order to gain trust and confidence of non e-commerce users and encourage them into online buyers.
Worried that the goods ordered will not arrive.
Some customers expressed their worries if the goods they bought would not be delivered to them. Some said they were afraid of fraud and depending on the goods they bought, some were concerned over import policies imposed by the authorities.
For local online vendors however, customers spoke of the “meeting point culture”, where they contacted the sellers via online and decided to meet up for transactions to take place.
While most customers shared their concerns, there were also those who rooted for local online vendors who had cropped up recently, hoping they could bring the nation’s industry up.
Make use of the latest payment facilities
Besides Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam’s (BIBD’s) online payment facilities, some startups had also made its way to provide different ways for people to pay without presenting bulks of cash. Some people loved this convenience and would be more inclined to make purchases if methods are available to them.
Improve delivery services
Last year, DHL Express, the fastest courier service offered under the Deutsche Post DHL Group made a big investment to open up a logistics centre in Gadong to help improve the turnaround time for delivery of goods.
At the same time, there were also few startups cropping up to provide delivery services, including Kedai Jam Brunei (KJB) and Brunei Delivery Services (BDS) to name a few.
In addition to these third-party services, there are also online vendors who have their own delivery services – but as they work on their own services, most customers would advise them to think of the best ways on how they can deliver goods to their doors at their earliest convenience.
Improve product catalogue and variety
Some customers may look for a niche, and some may just browse from a cascade of categories. Whatever it is, customers said they would usually be more compelled to buy if they started browsing with the intention of “window shopping.”
The larger the catalogue (and the cheaper the goods are), the more they are compelled to buy.
Keep on going
Customers understand that online shopping in Brunei is just at its infancy stage when compared to international plasters like e-Bay and AliExpress – but that also does not mean they are not supporting them.
They encouraged these vendors to keep on going hoping that someday Brunei’s online marketplace can be as big as its international counterparts.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN