By Alang Bendahara
Disrupting the marketplace by digitising farmers, fishermen as well as micro and small entrepreneurs to eliminate the middleman, thus enabling producers to gain more profit by selling directly to buyers, was the whole idea behind the Selangor Digital e-Supply Chain (Seldec).
In this digitalisation story series, Selangor Journal spoke with Selangor Industrial Corporation (SIC) Sdn Bhd general manager Md Fauzan Elham, who is also Seldec’s Business Development manager, on its history and evolution.
Seldec, a complete business ecosystem that enables the public to obtain fresh produce directly from rural areas, was first announced by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari on October 3, 2019, and launched on June 24, 2020, during the time of the Movement Control Order.
In less than two years Seldec has shown impressive progress, taking on board over 1,000 traders, offering more than 10,000 products, and employing over 100 riders who have delivered over 20,000 parcels to its over 7,000 registered customers.
The platform also intends to sign up 10,000 traders by 2027.
In a gist, it has become a brand that is associated with fresh produce in the Klang Valley, supplying to supermarkets, hypermarkets, big restaurant chains, as well as food processing factories
When we first started, we discovered that unlike Indonesia’s Tokopedia or Bukalapak, the existing online marketplace in the country was foreign-based and not homegrown. So we needed to learn everything to create a truly Malaysian-grown and state-owned online marketplace,” said Md Fauzan.
He said initially there were five state entities involved in the setting up of Seldec but it was later refined to only one, which is SIC, which comes under the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS)
In less than a year, the team who had to work from home during the lockdown managed to come up with a working online marketplace platform with a portal seldec.com.my as well as a mobile application that offers buyers eight categories — fresh goods (poultry, seafood and vegetables), frozen foods, processed foods, fashion, home and living, healthcare, cosmetics and services.
Working with small and micro-entrepreneurs from rural areas has proved challenging. The team at Seldec often has to manage the initial reluctance of the entrepreneurs to migrate their business online.
Many of the entrepreneurs share a common fear of having to upload photos of their products and having to navigate a digital platform. Some leave Seldec altogether once they are able to find employment elsewhere.
Seldec also has to contend with shifting market trends. With the easing of social restrictions and the economy reopening, there is now less demand for delivery services.
It also has to compete with other e-hailing operators for sales volumes and ridership numbers.
“Despite them all, we have no plan to close down. Instead, we will change our strategy a little bit,” Md Fauzan said.
On September 30, 2021, Seldec 1.0 (seldec.com.my) was upgraded to Seldec 2.0
and took on a new portal address, seldec.my.
“After a year of operation, we realised that Seldec 1.0 was not strong enough as it was a standalone system. We needed it to do more. Eventually, we decided to turn it into a super app that is able to bring third-party businesses onto its platform.
“And so we brought on board PKNS Real Estate Sdn Bhd’s Bazar Lokal (bazarlokal.seldec.my) and pharmaceutical product seller SupaStore (supastore. seldec.my) and made them our flagship stores,” Md Fauzan said.
Several companies have now shown an interest to join Seldec as partners as it is costly for any company to set up its own marketplace. Moreover, Seldec’s joining fees are cheap and it provides help in operating the business.
Md Fauzan said Seldec remains committed to training entrepreneurs
through its ongoing partnership with several state agencies, halal product authorities and local councils. However, it needs to monetise itself if it wants to go the distance.
Currently, the company is in talks with authorities in Penang and Kelantan who are looking for an online marketplace for their thousands of entrepreneurs who need a platform to sell their products nationwide.
Seldec also plans to continue its Dapur Seldec programme, a hot food delivery service that started in Ramadan during the early months of lockdown. Having worked closely with many local councils to operate physical food stalls for the programme, Seldec is now seeking to engage with a third party who has the manpower and ability to help operate this side business.
So what does the future hold for the company?
Md Fauzan said that as online marketplaces will take around three to five years to become profitable, Seldec’s ultimate goal is to go really big.
“We want to be a super app in Malaysia and we think it is possible. We already have a web portal, an app, a payment gateway and riders as well as a logistics hub,” he said.
This article first appeared in the Selangor Journal monthly May edition, published on April 25, 2022