What “RMCO” means for Malaysia’s Retail & Consumer industry

10 Jun 8:00 by Ramdev Singh

First, there was “MCO”, then came “EMCO” followed by “CMCO”, and now the new “RMCO”. I'm pretty sure all Malaysians are familiar with the first 3 phases of “MCO” so I would like to talk about “RMCO” instead.

“RMCO” stands for Recovery Movement Control Order and as the name suggests, we are looking at the recovery of Malaysia’s economy. In recent weeks, we have seen a huge shift where businesses which relied on brick and mortar sales are looking to turn digital. The one key learning from this is that many retail businesses are just not ready to move onto a pure e-Commerce platform. Go online and you can see that many big brands out there are struggling to keep up with the overwhelming number of orders and deliveries. I have experienced this. What would normally take 3 to 5 days to ship is now taking 2 weeks or even more. I have still not received an order I placed on the 18th of May and this is a company that already had an e-Commerce platform before the virus hit!

What does this tell us? First and foremost, consumers are still spending and can part with their hard-earned cash even in these trying times. And secondly, businesses should not only invest in their e-Commerce platform but also streamline the delivery processes, i.e. tying up with delivery partners that can cope with their growing business.

For example, a big sports brand recently announced a week-long promotional campaign on their online store, however, they couldn’t handle the traffic on the very first day and had to drive people to their physical stores, whether that is effective remains to be seen.

Even before the “RMCO” was announced, malls and retail outlets could operate with strict SOPs. We are used to seeing long queues when stores announce massive sales like 50% or 70% off but now even without these sales we are seeing long queues because only a certain number of people are allowed within each store at a time. Is this a sign that retail stores can reduce the amount of staff? Only time will tell. As we gear up to face the new normal, businesses would need to improve their online presence and their logistics; even if headcount is cut from the retail outlets, there will be rehiring in areas like digital marketing, e-Commerce and supply chain.

From a recruitment perspective, we can see the market slowly opening back up, granted there are many uncertainties with the new normal but as we all try to figure things out step by step and as with anything new, people are always nervous especially businesses. If you ask me I think the retail business will make a comeback and would be stronger as there have been some key learnings during these difficult times that have forced them to adapt.

If you’re curious to find out more about how the market is performing or if you need any support with your hiring, don’t hesitate to contact me at