Mother Son Duo Embraces Tech to Keep Family Business Going

This post is brought to you by Grab

The pandemic has affected so many people, and among the ones who were hit the hardest were the small and independent local businesses in Malaysia. With various movement controls in the past year and people staying home more, many businesses that failed to make the digital transition were hit hard.

Ooi Choon Ean is a 54-year-old seafood seller at Pasar Batu Lanchang, Penang. She’s been running her family-owned business for about 20 years now, and like most wet market operators, her business was badly affected during the first MCO.

However, thanks to her son Shawn, they were able to quickly digitalise their business via the Grab app.

“Getting on the Grab app (GrabMart) was his idea. I didn’t understand how it worked, but it was worth trying. His father is a little old fashioned, and believed in everything being cash-basis, so he was a bit apprehensive at first,” said Ooi.

“But since working with Grab, we have seen a good pick up in our sales after being badly affected during the first MCO,” she added.

Shawn started helping his parents at the store even when he was in school.

“He started helping my husband and I after school. Then after Form 5, he contemplated going into business. So it made sense for him to work at our stall full time,” she said.

“From waking up early to choose our produce, managing the stall, entertaining patrons and thinking of ways to serve more people, he does it all every day.

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“He is only 26 but such a hit with all the ‘aunties’ that buy from us. They call him ‘Ah Boy’ and always say he is honest and generous. To some, being too generous in business is not a good thing. But like my father, I have always believed that if you can help someone, you should do what you can to. And I see Shawn doing this a lot.”

Ooi says that now, Shawn is their “bos kecik”, and he has a lot of plans to expand their business. They are trying stuff like building a social media presence, and she feels that moving forward, it is super important that they keep up with technology trends even if they’re “just a stall in a market”.

That’s a good point, which is why Grab strives to make technology that’s inclusive and accessible for everyone though their #TechUntukSemua initiative.

This wouldn’t be the first time Grab is taking the initiative to help small traditional businesses digitalise themselves. In the past, they showed support to our local heroes, offering RM2.5 million in advertising space to help small and independent businesses increase their visibility on the Grab platform to boost their business.

Grab also launched Food Courts by GrabFood and Pasar by GrabMart to help traditional vendors participate in the digital economy and grow their businesses. Grab also recently announced the GrabForGood Fund to Benefit Grab Partners which seeks to support programs that will have lasting impact on the quality of life for all its partners—be it driver, delivery or merchant.

The important thing to remember here is that it is never too late for businesses and business owners to digitise. As Malaysians get more accustomed to using delivery services, this will definitely help them to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.