Lack of confidence among consumers to conduct online business transactions is inhibiting the growth of small-and-medium enterprises in the country. (NST file pix)

KUALA TERENGGANU: Lack of confidence among consumers to conduct online business transactions is inhibiting the growth of small-and-medium enterprises in the country.

Terengganu SME Corporation director Muhammad Ibrahim said another factor which is working against the smart facility was the rampant fraud still occurring among consumers.

“Owing to such fears, only 7.4 per cent of SMEs nationwide last year have indulged in online transactions to conduct their business, compared with 4.6 per cent for Terengganu alone.

“This is a worrying trend, especially when the government is encouraging more SMEs to conduct businesses online in order to save on overhead and operating costs.

‘At the same time, online transactions allow for speedier and more efficient delivery of goods and services,” said Muhammad at the inaugural ‘Online Enterpreneurs Talk’ at Sumai Hotel.

The event was held in collaboration with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM), the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and Persatuan Tunas Usahawan Terengganu (Patut).

Muhammad said that in line with the ‘Digital Free Trade Zone’ initiative, the SME sector contributed 36 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

“SME Corp itself provides 40 per cent funding for those conducting transactions online, while other government agencies also advise and consult them to sustain their businesses and remain competitive,” he said.

Muhammad called on SMEs to register their businesses with CCM and comply with the various ministries’ regulations on patents, trademarks and halal certification.

“This will help authenticate their businesses as bona fide and give confidence to consumers to purchase their goods and services.

“Otherwise, these smart consumers will consider their businesses as ‘fly-by-night’ companies which employ fraudulent tactics to lure unsuspecting customers,” he said.

Nevertheless, Muhammad added that more than 30 per cent of Terengganu’s 22,000 SMEs had adopted online business transactions.

Terengganu Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Department director Azlan Abdul Samad urged SMEs not to operate their businesses just via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook but to register with CCM.

“Consumers on the other hand should verify if SMEs are properly registered and avoid any dealings with illegal ones.

“This will not only protect the SMEs but the interests of consumers as the authorities can trace fraudulent and unethical practices,” said Azlan.

Registered SMEs must furnish details like the full business name, address, contact telephone number and company registration number, price tag, product details, quality, discounts offered, terms of sales, method of payment and delivery time.

CCM Terengganu customer service executive Norazila Ghazali said all companies, whether indulging in online or offline business, must be registered to conduct business legally.

She said there were 70,000 registered companies in Terengganu.

“As an added measure, especially for companies without premises that conduct online transactions via virtual operations, we have distributed ‘BizTrust’ logos to them to vouch for their authenticity.

“Thus, consumers can rest assured of the genuine status of the businesses which provide guarantees and warranties,” she said.

Meanwhile, RNR Dynakix Sdn Bhd managing director Nur Raihan Anuar said she had no qualms about operating her cosmetics and skin-care business 100 per cent online the past three years.

“Through efficient delivery, I have managed to capture the trust of my customers who believe in the credibility of my company.

“Doing business online has saved me huge overheads and other expenses related to staffing, amenities and logistics,” said Nur Raihan, whose company deals with booster serum, foundation makeup and ‘Lipsmatte’ lipsticks, among her products.

Her company grosses monthly sales of RM250,000 locally, in Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia.

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