Online Shopping Becomes Malaysian Teen Lifestyle

By Lucia Terey Anak John and Rohana Nasrah

KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 (Bernama) -- Malaysians are no strangers to online shopping which is a common feature, especially during festive seasons, and has become a lifestyle among teenagers.

Using just a smartphone, tablet or laptop, almost anything can be purchased - without having to drive through a maze of traffic, jostle in crowded shopping centres and encounter long queues.

For the coming Aidilfitri, just visit the social networking site Facebook or Instagram from your home or office, and you will find a wide variety of businesses and boutiques promoting their products, including baju kurung, baju Melayu, multifaceted batik outfits, songket and the latest designed headscarves with prices depending on the quality of fabric and fine art of tailoring.

However, regardless of their merits, online purchases have negative aspects. The Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) has advised consumers to be cautious when making purchases over the Internet to avoid being short-changed.

A journalist, Siti Baaqiah Mamat, 24, said she had to buy clothes online as a result of her busy work schedule.

"I work shifts, so it's hard to make plans on when and where to shop. Therefore, I prefer to shop online which is accessible 24 hours via mobile phones and laptops," she told Bernama.

According to Siti Baaqiah, not only are there various options purchasing clothes online but it is also cheaper and of better quality, as compared with those sold in malls. Even if there was doubt about the size of the dress, the online merchant would provide a list of body measurements to choose from, she said.

Nornasheila Zaidi, 25, has familiarised herself with online purchasing over the past two years, after encountering difficulties in obtaining a modern designed 'baju kurung' of her choice.

"Not many stores or boutiques sell 'baju kurung' to fit my stocky size," said the native of Kuching, Sarawak.

A survey by Bernama at several social networking sites and websites found a promotion of various Raya clothes with a myriad of designs.

Oh Almaree boutique proprietor Siti Mazira Aini Mustaphar, 32, said her outlet offered matching Raya clothes for the entire family at affordable prices.

"For this year's Aidilfitri alone, bookings for a total of 150 to 200 pairs of clothes were received.

"Since June 2, we have been taking orders but were forced to close early due to overwhelming customer response," she said.

Siti Mazira Aini, who has been in the business over the past three years, said she was not confined to sewing clothes alone but also sold ready-made garments like baju Melayu, as well as modern and fashionable baju kurung.

Nur Amalina Mohamed Salleh, 23, the founder of sewing boutique Lena Lee Design said the design and quality of the Raya clothes produced, not only drew local citizens but also attracted customers from Brunei, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.

"Right now, we have 300 bookings for Raya clothes, mostly modern baju kurung which costs between RM89 and RM175 a piece. Usually, a piece can be completed within 10 days and delivered," said Nur Amalina who is still a student in psychology (marketing) at the University of Science and Management (MSU) in Shah Alam, Selangor.

Noting the tendency of society making online purchases, Fomca vice-president Siti Rahayu Zakaria has advised consumers to be cautious when making purchases as sometimes, they could be short-changed.

She said consumers needed to be smart to examine the status of the business.

"This is because there have been complaints regarding online purchases which were received by the National Consumer Complaints Centre, which showed an increase of up to 3,712 in 2013, as compared with only 874 in 2012," she added.

Of the total complaints received last year, Siti Rahayu said 47.2 per cent involved late shipments, 20 per cent pertained to low-quality products (not the quality advertised) and 15.6 per cent were scam sales.

Most of the fraud were committed by companies not registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), she noted.

"Companies usually ask the clients to make an initial payment even before the items are delivered.

"When this happens, it is difficult for consumers to recover the money because they lack information about the business address, identity of the trader and other information to help consumers seek redress," said Siti Rahayu.


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