On the 10th May, Malaysia was swept away by a tidal wave tsunami that shook the country to its core and reverberated throughout the entire world. That was just a metaphor; a literal tsunami never hit the Malay peninsula. However, a tsunami in the form of the 14th Malaysia General Elections results did strike seismically, ironically causing widespread public euphoria rather than misery. Malaysians went to the voting booths on the 9th May demoralise of the prospects of a familiar predicament, to wake up on the 10th of May to find themselves all protagonist to a blockbuster movie. Hope was the theme of the film; The plotline – underdogs who went to the ballots in droves to give the kleptocratic incumbents a piece of their mind.
Now off to the main subject at hand, throughout the election period, Malaysia’s online shopping aggregator iPrice was conducting a study with data from Google Analytics to find out how the elections would affect all e-commerce activities in Malaysia. The results were astounding; findings showed that Malaysians were patriotic given the significant dip in online shopping traffic throughout the period.
On the eve before the elections, Malaysians were found to have diverted their attention from online shopping toward preparations for the election. Online shopping traffic from the afternoon onwards on the 9th May was found to have declined steadily beyond the norm when compared with traffic from the previous month. Various Malaysian news outlet reported traffic congestions on major highways around the same time online shopping traffic was declining; this shows that many Malaysians were travelling interstate back to their respective constituencies.
On election day, Malaysians were more focused on performing their civic duties rather than online shopping as they were queueing up at the polls from early morning onwards til evening. On any other Wednesday, online shopping traffic would begin to reach its peak in the early morning; however, on polling day, online shopping traffic only started to pick up in the evening, this is evident as most Malaysian would have finished casting their vote around that time. Also, e-commerce traffic was lower than usual during the night time as most Malaysians were peeling on their screens awaiting the results of the elections to unfold.
Despite the improvement in e-commerce traffic the day after the election, it remained lower than usual as Malaysians woke up to a different Malaysia after the announcement of the election results and the mandate of public holidays by the new government. Online shopping traffic was slower than usual throughout the day as most Malaysians were anticipating the inauguration of its seventh Prime Minister.
Mobile, the way of the future?
The one takeaway from this study is the popularity and convenience of mobile phones with online shoppers. Results show that there was a substantial decline across all devices for online shopping activities during the election period. Desktop devices recorded the highest drop followed by tablets and then mobile phones. The report suggests that most of the online shopping traffic generated were most likely from mobile phones. This is evident as, during election day, many voters were required to wait at least 3 hours before they could cast their votes. Therefore, voters most probably browsed or made purchases online through their mobile devices while waiting in the queue.