Online Business (Malaysia) – The Setup Guide 2019

Do you have plans to start your own online business in Malaysia? Are you getting tired of your 8 am to 5 pm desk job?

If you are, hold your horses first. Before you submit your resignation later, make sure you read these first and give it time to grow before you let go of your current job.

In this topic, we will be talking about the things you need to decide and do first before starting an online business in Malaysia:

  1. Decide on a product/service.
  2. Ways to do online business.
  3. How to sell online?
  4. Online business (Malaysia) registration.
  5. Market your online business.

Decide on a product/service

This is the most important aspect of starting your online business. Now, heed this. What you have in mind now, yes, right now, is not always the best product to sell even if you think it is.

What does that even mean?

What it means that you may think that people will want to buy your product but truth is, there is no demand for it. And when there is no demand for it, it’s a dead end for you.

So, do some research first before you decide. Your aim here is to create a sustainable business.

Let us take one product for example; vacuum cleaner

How do we know that people in Malaysia actually searched for vacuum cleaners online? There are a few ways to go about this.

First, just do a quick search on Google. If you want to be more specific, use instead.

Google Search

Sellers advertising using Google Ads.

Do you see the symbol “Ad”? It means that sellers are actually bidding on the keyword vacuum cleaner itself which is a great thing as it shows that buyers have the intention to buy vacuum cleaners online.

Now that you know vacuum cleaner can be a possible product for you to sell, the next thing you would want to know is what type of vacuum cleaners?

Related Search

Look at the related searches to aid you in finding the right product.

At the bottom page of the Google search, you will see searches related to a vacuum cleaner. This shows what buyers are looking for more specifically apart from vacuum cleaner which gives you a better idea what type of vacuum cleaner you intend to sell.

Handheld vacuum cleaner seems like a good choice as it allows you to sell a variety of brands which are related to it. And possibly, you want to take in brands such as Panasonic, Electrolux and Midea since shoppers looking for them.

What about Shopee? As you know, Shopee is an e-commerce marketplace. Here is another nifty trick to see what other types of vacuum cleaners that shoppers are getting.

Shopee Search

Search in marketplaces to get an idea about the demand for certain products.

Head over to Shopee and search for “vacuumcleaner”. Tick “Local” for the “Shipped From” category. This will filter the results of what locals are looking for.

By looking at the results, you are close to confident that shoppers are indeed looking for handheld vacuum cleaners. However, if you look at the number of items sold, the bed vacuum cleaner is selling way better than handheld vacuum cleaners.

Wouldn’t you want to include bed vacuum cleaners in your product line up knowing that’s they’re sought after?

Another useful tool that you want to consider using is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest.


Use web tools to help you search which products are searched frequently.

Knowing what product to sell is half the battle. The other is to know how many people are searching for your product. And Ubersuggest gives you an idea as to whether you are making the right choice.

Just key in your product into the tool, select Malay/Malaysia and search. Then use the “Keyword Ideas” tab on the left panel to see the suggestions available.

It just proves to you that Panasonic vacuums are worth selling as they’re in demand. You get about 590 searches a month which is not too bad. There is also a market for car vacuums, which is worth exploring.

To top it all, the brand Karcher seems to be highly sought after too with 1000 searches a month! So you might want to consider having that brand as your product line up too.

What ways to do online business?

We have talked about finding out what buyers/shoppers look out for online. With that in mind, how can you make money out of that?

The common ones used are:

  • selling physical products or drop-shipping
  • providing services
  • advertorial
  • affiliate marketing
  • software as a service (SaaS)

Physical products

If you have some cash to spare, you can look into selling physical products online. However, the things you want to consider are your finances, the weight of the products (which affects delivery charges), storage and delivery aspects.


Drop-shipping, on the other hand, saves you the trouble of having to deal with what has been mentioned. This is because you are selling the products on behalf of another party. You receive the order and payment, the other party will handle the rest.

Technically, all you need is a running web store to receive orders. The only downfall with this method is that you have no control over what will happen after you receive an order.

You will not know when the order will be packed and shipped. You will not know whether an item goes out of stock. You will not know when the out of stock item will be replenished. If anything goes wrong, you cannot do anything about it and it will affect your reputation.


If you are good at something, you can sell your services online. For example, you are fantastic at using Adobe Photoshop. You can correct poor quality images or you can illustrate cartoons. You can use that skill of yours to do business online.


You can start small first through freelancing sites such as Fiverr or Upwork. Once you are comfortable providing services online, you can step up your game and build a brand for yourself through a website.

The advantage of providing services is that you do not need to come up with money up front. The downside is that when you are new in the market, you may have a tough time getting customers online.


For adverts, do not expect to earn money right out from the start. You know why? You need visitors to your website first before you can start earning from adverts placed on your site.

Even when you have created your own website, it takes time (at least 6 months) to be ranked in a comfortable position in the search rankings. And to earn a sizable income from your adverts, you will need a lot of visitors to your site.

If you want to do this, you better do it now and be patient to reap the harvest later. And during this process, you will have to generate/write content that is relevant to your visitors.

Affiliate marketing

What is affiliate marketing? It means selling a product or a service which does not belong to you and earn a certain percentage of profit from it.

Amazon Associates

Take Amazon for example. You can sign up for their affiliate program and promote their products on your site. Once the shopper clicks on the link from your website, it takes them to Amazon and if the transaction is successful, you will get a cut from it.

That being said, it’s easier said than done. Similar to adverts, you will need a sizable amount of visitors to your website before all this can happen. No visitors to your website will generate you nothing.

Software as a service (SaaS)

Another terminology that may sound quite intimidating. Have you heard of Xero? It is actually an accounting software. Xero charges a monthly subscription fee to their customers.

SaaS involves a lot of money and time because you need them to create your software first. Unless you have investors or you are really loaded yourself, it will be a really challenging start.

A lot of research needs to be done before that because you do not want risk ending up with a software that no one actually wants it.

How to sell online?

Okay. You now have a product or a service that you want to sell. What next?

You have to decide where do you want to sell it next. There are multiple options for you to choose from. The popular ones are:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Lazada
  • Lelong
  • Shopee
  • 11street
  • Shopify
  • Sitegiant

Shopify Theme

Shopify is a good choice if you just want to sell without worrying about server management.

Shopify is a good platform to sell your products without worrying about server management.Some are social media sites. Some are large marketplaces. And some, are pre-built websites that you can easily upload your products and start selling without needing to build a website from scratch.

Which one to choose? Ultimately, it depends on your aim. If you just want to make money without an image or a company brand, then go ahead with social media sites and marketplaces.

However, if you want to build a brand of your own and you want people to recognize who you are online, social media sites and marketplaces should not be your pick. If a shopper goes over to Lazada to buy an item, he/she will only remember the name Lazada, not you.

Henceforth, web store providers such as Shopify or Sitegiant are good alternatives in which you have more control over your company’s brand as the products you will be selling. You focus on selling without having to manage your web server and backups.

Good right? Yes, in a way. The only downside of using these services are:

  • You have limited choices to how your website can be with minimal customization.
  • Your search engine optimization (to improve your site’s visibility in the search engine) of your site is hampered.
  • You will not be able to add other functionalities to your site at ease.
  • You will have no control with what is happening with your web hosting provider.

If the ones mentioned are important to you, then it’s time you think about making your own website and learn how to manage it along the way.

Online business (Malaysia) registration

It’s illegal to conduct online business in Malaysia without registering with the authority.

Before you start selling anything online, make sure you register your business with the Companies Commission of Malaysia or Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM).

SSM Building

The SSM office building.

Head over to SSM and speak with the officer in-charged to get the necessary forms.

There are altogether 3 options to choose from:

  • sole proprietor
  • partnership
  • company

Sole proprietor and partnership are easier to register as compared to a business company. All your business liabilities are your own liabilities are also your personal (and your partners’) liability. You may consider testing the grounds first with either these two and when you think you are ready, you can switch over to company instead.

The standard charges for sole proprietor and partnership as stated below:

New RegistrationTrade Name – RM60/year
Personal Name – RM30/year
Branch – RM5/branch/year
Business UpdatesRM20
Branch – RM5/branch/year
Business RenewalTrade Name – RM60/year
Personal Name – RM30/year
Branch – RM5/branch/year
Business InformationRM10

Company registration will keep your business dealings away from your personal accounts. The charges and complexity of the registration process are a lot more when you register a company.

Being registered with SSM gives you more credibility too when you are doing your business online. It proves that you are authentic and not a scammer. Apart from that, it allows you to create a bank account for the business you have registered.

Buyers will be more reassured to know they are transferring money in your business account rather than personal accounts.

Online business marketing

Great! Now that you’ve completed your setup, it’s time to get your business going. And by going means, marketing. If you do not market your online business, no one will know about your existence.

How are you going to do business if no one knows that you exist? Here are a few ways that you can market your business:

  • Facebook advertising
  • Google Ads (includes YouTube)
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Email marketing
  • Content creation
  • Social shares (Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

Your marketing strategy may be different depending on where your customers are coming from. For example, if you are providing a service that involves professionals, then LinkedIn Ads would fit you nice since LinkedIn is a portal for professionals.

Google Ads

Google Ads allows your customers to find your products directly through a search.

If you are selling products or services in general, then Google Ads is a better choice at it show your products/web pages directly to the searcher which increases your chance of a sale.

Facebook advertising is not actually a good choice for product sales but it is really helpful in getting leads (business prospects) and brand awareness. People use Facebook for entertainment purposes. You don’t go to Facebook to search for a product to buy, do you?

Email marketing is a powerful tool when it’s done right. When you have the emails of potential customers, you can reach out to them to remind them of your product/service. However, to do email marketing, you need the most important thing. Emails.

In order to get emails, Facebook advertising is a great platform to acquire your emails, a.k.a lead.

Lastly, it’s all about creating the right content for your future customers. If you are selling a product, write contents/articles related to your product. A well-written content (together with SEO and social shares) gets visitors to your site which you can convert them into buyers. And best of all, the traffic you are getting is free! You don’t have to pay for ads unlike Google Ads or Facebook advertising.

Back to you!

Setting up a business is relatively easy. However, the toughest part of making a business work is perseverance. It is how long you can stay in-game that matters.

And of course, more importantly, able to stand on both your feet again after making bad decisions.

So, have you decided on what products you plan to sell?

Or what particular skill that you have that you want to turn it into a business venture? Share with us in the comments below!

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