• Madani Sahari

E-Commerce key part of MaaS

If you have hailed a ride with a Grab app, ordered food online to be delivered or purchased something using an online shopping app — you have not only experienced e-commerce, but also Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). You are also fortunate to have experienced the first steps towards a new world, change of lifestyle and new business models that will be prevalent in the future, where connectivity becomes the core driver to enhance purchase and service delivery process.

In a previous article, this column discussed the key nuances of MaaS versus current mobility models. In short, the key takeaway of MaaS is the unlocking of new business methods and models, changes in modes of vehicle ownership and transformation of service delivery, spurred by advances in cloud connectivity. When it comes to services such as the use of ride-hailing, online purchase and delivery as mentioned above, they depend heavily on technology surrounding eCommerce.

The public is familiar with the concept of e-commerce from a retail point of view whereby the consumer is presented with a catalogue or menu, makes the purchasing decision, pays through an online payment gateway, and waits for the product or service to be delivered. However, behind the scene, a myriad of sub-operations take place to fulfill the order, such as inventory management, financial transactions between suppliers, banks and retailers and delivery couriers. While most e-commerce platforms take this form, the future remains wide open with opportunities to digitalise various aspects that complete the commerce cycle.

As I explained in my previous article, the need for transportation remains constant as mobility becomes a service while ownership models evolve. E-commerce would also be subjected to the same change in business thinking, as it is perhaps still very far from its final form. Today, the above processes are widely available — perhaps no longer even seen as revolutionary as before. As the commerce models evolve, we must know that the product, service and the need for transactions and delivery will remain, and perhaps new demand segments may be discovered because of the digitalisation of commerce.

My point is we must always be on the lookout for opportunities to improve and add value to the digitalisation of the commerce chain. This becomes more important as demand for higher complexity becomes inherent in our business operations. In future, operations such as supply chain management, just in-time orders, product planning, production queues, engineering changes, marketing insights and many more might be pushed through the e-commerce system.

In fact, it will become an important aspect, if not the most, to manage in future business. The customer would have the ability to select, but also customise orders to his or her specific tastes, and to respond, the business owner (future owners) must have the capability to reach a good level of mass customisation to remain competitive.

While it may sound daunting, the future of e-commerce is one that is more inclusive. Firstly, cross-border market access is bridged through the cloud. Secondly, given the range of services to be utilised in the e-commerce ecosystem, startup companies have better chances for scalability due to high demand of highly specialised technology along the entire e-commerce retail chain. When combined with the technology of connected mobility, that chain is longer than the mind can imagine.

This week, MARii launched the MARii Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) Scale Up Programme to facilitate the adoption of MaaS related technologies and services in the domestic mobility industry to enhance the e -commerce ecosystem. As e-commerce advances, the change of business thinking and strategies towards digitalisation strategies must be made a top priority.

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