Malaysia Business Report 2017

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Discovery Reports

Timber Land to revolutionise retail in Malaysia’s Sarawak

The company plans to use the boundless potential of e-commerce to revitalise the future of brick-and-mortar retail therapy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 9:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 9:05am

Timber Land Group has big plans to revolutionise the retail experience in the state of Sarawak.

Leveraging Malaysia’s landmark Digital Free Trade Zone (DTFZ) project due for completion at the end of 2019, Timber Land Group intends to employ the boundless potential of e-commerce to revitalise the future of brick-and-mortar retail therapy.

The DTFZ is touted to play a crucial role within the ambitious Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP). However, some economists have warned that the platform will signal the gradual demise of retail shopping malls.

Led by managing director Kevin Choo, Timber Land Group is confident that far from curbing shopping malls, the gateway provided by the DTFZ and eWTP will provide a platform of infinite possibilities for the evolution of retail.

“Although the change may mean a positive increase in online transaction volume, it does not necessarily suggest a fatal disruption in traditional supply chains if we are ready and equipped to utilise the opportunities such a network will bring,” Choo says. The entrepreneur known to push boundaries was awarded the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award 2017 for the property development category in September for his broad-based experience in the development of residential and commercial projects, and his skill in navigating the uncertain terrain of property development in Sarawak.

Malaysia’s e-commerce market size for this year is pegged at about 24 billion Malaysian ringgit

(HK$44.3 billion). From this figure however, about 20 per cent comprises products-only online sales. Although online shopping has undeniably changed the way people fulfil their shopping needs, the nature of the digital world still poses sensory limitations to consumers concerned about product ergonomics.

Choo believes that there is a win-win way to boost online sales and in-store purchases. He hopes to achieve the balance through his latest brainchild, The Galleria, an integrated shopping and hotel complex component of Timber Land Group’s multi-phased urban revitalisation project, City Square, set on prime land in Kuching, the heart of property investment in Sarawak.

Envisioned as Kuching’s lifestyle mall of choice, The Galleria will complete the emerging golden triangle shared with Kuching’s new central business district, The Isthmus, and Borneo744, Malaysia’s first blue ocean entrepreneur township and arts district strategically located at the second bridge linking Kuching North and Kuching South.

Now at the design stage, the architecture of The Galleria is centred on a yin-yang balance between the digital and natural worlds. Choo understands that widespread use of e-commerce will change the landscape of trade operations and consumer patterns, which in turn will affect the types of buildings required to cater to new demand. As such, The Galleria will be purpose-built to cater to this shift.

Interested investors who appreciate that the one-of-a-kind combination of these factors will contribute to the success are invited to be a part of this flagship project. Sarawak boasts many distinctive advantages for foreign investors, namely an English-speaking state government, available workforce and natural resources. In addition, the state government is proposing new direct-flight routes to Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Through The Galleria, Timber Land Group aims to create a springboard to launch a highly customised, surround-sound shopping experience through synthesising the best of online and offline retail therapy; an evolutionary “smart” shopping mall where algorithms can be set to personalise, propose and predict each shopping experience based on recognised buyer patterns and preferences.

“We are not seeking to replace traditional market channels or trying to create new market segments,” Choo says. “However, we do intend to drive and expand the boundaries of consumer enjoyment.”