Tech startups play their part during MCO
WHEN the nation is under crisis, Malaysians show that they are the best in extending their help so that businesses can go still operate despite the difficulties and the public can get the pandemic-related information and help.
For online health provider DoctorOnCall, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned them into a reference site for things related to the virus.
“Due to the pandemic, we saw public panic and gross amount of misinformation or fake news flooding the market. Our platform also experienced an increase in Covid-19-related inquiries and spike in orders especially for masks and sanitising products,” said its co-founder and director Hazwan Najib.
DoctorOnCall, offers medication and online consultation services on-the-go, allowing consumers to get the medical services they need instantly.
They started their Covid-19 initiative in early February, when the pandemic was at its early stage in Malaysia.
In December, 2019, Hazwan visited Alibaba Campus Hangzhou as a participant of Alibaba e-Founders Fellowship Program (South East Asia). There he observed how technology is embraced on a massive scale in China.
“Technologies such as contactless payment, self-ordering, man-less shop and automated services by robot are no longer a lab prototype but has been used and scaled across China,” he said.
“There’s a moment when I thought that the world has a lot of catching up to do to get the mass to adopt technology at this scale. So just a less than a month after we returned from Hangzhou, China, Covid-19 happened. The first thing that came to my mind is, this virus will change many aspects of our lives and the world will need to embrace technology with a speed faster than ever before,” he added.
Hence, DoctorOnCall got an idea and pitched to the Malaysia Ministry of Health to set up a portal with the latest and rich information for the public on Covid-19 and a dedicated virtual consultation channel for concerned individuals to speak to a medical specialists. The portal can be reached at www.DoctorOnCall.com.my/coronavirus.
“We are also one of the very first companies to roll out Covid-19 Home Testing service where we would send a team to collect nose and throat swab sample for testing at the patient’s home,” said Hazwan, adding that the service is convenient especially to those belonging to high-risk or more vulnerable group such as elderly, people with chronic diseases, etc.
Meanwhile, for StoreHub, a technology platform for retail and F&B businesses, when the MCO was announced, disallowing dine-ins for restaurants, it knew that a large number of its F&B customers would suffer.
True enough on the day of the MCO, there was a steep 85 percent drop of revenue across the board, with over 90 percent of businesses doing zero ringgit in sales.
“With over 200,000 F&B businesses in Malaysia we felt compelled to do something,” said its co-founder, Fong Wai Hong.
That’s when the team decided to build and launch Beep Delivery within 48 hours of the MCO.
With Beep Delivery, restaurants now have an online ordering platform that makes taking orders, accepting payments, and finding a driver super easy.
“We’ve partnered with some other Alibaba eFounder entrepreneurs who are logistics platforms such as GoGet & TheLorry as well as Lalamove & Teleport to handle the actual delivery. The platform also facilitates contactless pick up orders seamlessly as well,” said Fong.
He said Beep Delivery facilitates a more transparent and direct relationship between the customer and the store by applying a direct-to-consumer approach to food delivery which helps retailers save cost during this critical period. Instead of the 35 percent fee on every transaction charged by other food delivery marketplace apps, StoreHub’s fee for Beep Delivery is only 2 percent.
Taking a huge cut of their margins really hurt a restaurant’s ability to survive in this difficult time.
“By heavily subsidising the cost of these fees in this period, we can ensure that restaurants will be able to scale up delivery while generating some very important cash flow that is actually profitable.
“It’s our top priority to help local businesses build sustainable revenue during this time as these businesses support the livelihoods of millions of families throughout Malaysia,” said Fong.
For safety precautions, the entire StoreHub team in four cities (Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Manila and Bangkok) are working from home and operating remotely to support its merchants on Beep Delivery.
“Our logistics partners have also implemented strict SOPs around the handling of food and practicing contactless deliveries. They cannot hand the item directly to people. Instead they have to find a flat surface for the package, take a photo for proof and stand away as the customer comes to pick it up. GoGetters, for instance, are asked to wear masks, constantly sanitise their hands, vehicles and phones as often as they can,” he said.
For Epost, the common has pivoted its business model to reach out to more SME’s during the Covid-19 period to ensure that they could conduct their business through e-commerce platforms as a primary option.
“Our company attended the Alibaba Netrepreneur Programme last year and we were inspired by Alibaba’s Bainiu Village initiative, where Alibaba has been helping villagers to sell their products through Taobao and other e-commerce platforms. As such, Epost Ecommerce has been providing education and consultant services to SME affected by Covid-19, enabling them with the knowledge and expertise to not only survive, but excel during this period,” said its CEO, Tobin Ng.
Epost Express has been helping local farmers, such as the farmers from Kundasang to solve their logistics problems during MCO by delivering groceries and frozen fruits to each household through partnering with the DESA Project, an initiative created by my fellow netpreneurs.
“Epost Protect is currently online and we hope to help SME’s and individuals get insured for most Covid-19 incurred incidents, thus limiting the risks suffered by farmers and SME’s and making sure their businesses stay on track,” said Ng.
“As all business are affected by the MCO, we try our best to ensure our on-ground delivery workers are well-informed and well-trained of the latest government instructions. We constantly update them on each state’s regulations and curfews to ensure all goods are delivered on time, and we have also been providing daily training programmes to our on-ground workers to ensure that they know how to protect themselves through proper hygiene methods. All of our other staff practice work from home,” he said.
Besides that, he added that Epost Express now practises non-contact or contactless delivery by instructing its on-ground delivery crew leave the parcels at the customer’s doorstep instead of handing it to them directly.
“Epost warehouse is constantly disinfected to ensure the safety of our workers and our clients,” said Ng