High time for Malaysians to fully embrace Low-Touch economy

Malaysia, and the world, went from a bustling social and commercial hotspot to a zombie town overnight due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

People of all walks – from children to business owners – had to very quickly adapt to a new way of living, one designed to minimise physical interaction. It has worked well in many parts of the world, including Malaysia, as we adapted to schooling, working and living in isolation to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

We adopted the ‘Low-Touch economy’ model with ease – and that’s no accident.

Malaysia is the fastest emerging e-commerce market in the region, boosted by a 26.69 million digital population. Last year, our e-commerce revenue hit close to US$4 billion and our other digital indicators provided positive outlooks.

So when we were forced to study or work from home using videoconferencing and web-based collaboration tools, buy our supplies online and order food using mobile applications, a majority of Malaysians had minimal issues adapting. We were already embracing such a lifestyle pre-Covid-19.

As such, the concept of ‘Low-Touch economy’ is not new to Malaysians in general. It’s a term coined relatively recently to describe the minimisation of face-to-face contact between customers and businesses.

The move towards digitisation and automation has been going on for decades with the goal to simplify processes and interaction. Ten years ago, we did it to reduce our carbon footprint. Today, it’s to stop a virus from spreading.

The outcome and the direction society is moving have remained constant.

So, what’s different now?

We are witnessing what is perhaps the fastest forced digital transformation phase of this decade.

Communications and collaboration platforms have matured very quickly while e-retail has ramped up in efficiency and sophistication to cope with a reversal of market share dominance.

Business and society, however, will never be 100 per cent low-touch. Human beings, by nature, still need to interact physically.

As the pandemic is being contained through various measures by the health authorities and governments, traditional retail will inevitably pick up although the balance will be significantly tipped in favour of digitisation.

If your business operates in the digital space, or has recently undergone digitisation, here are several things to consider:

i. Low-touch policy in customer experience journey

Focus on a self-serve approach with rich content for all your digital assets. Shift your customer acquisition, engagement and support to structured digital channels as they’ve been proven to work and there’s enough expertise in the market to support this.

ii. Find the innovators

There are many new digital innovations in the market – from supply chain, marketing, communications, management, customer support to operations – that makes low-touch business easier. And the costs of adopting these technologies are less prohibitive than they used to be.

iii. Evaluate objectively

We’ve invested in technology and changed the way we live due to circumstances. However, it is equally important to understand how these changes will evolve in the future and to evaluate their effectiveness in how we move forward.

If your target market is happy with a low-touch lifestyle, then simply embrace it.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.