By nature, we like beautiful things. We like to see beautiful things in our hands. All the more if it is an improved version of what we already have. Beauty aside, functions must also be suitable to beautifully crafted things. Artisanal items are most likely beautifully crafted by artisans. Malaysia is one of the culturally rich countries to leverage on bringing forth the Malaysian artisanal entrepreneurs.

With that, arTsen is a recently launched e-marketplace by Malaysia Design Development Centre (DDEC) to support artisanal businesses turn their craft into an income-generating venture. How did this come to be? Well, DDEC has been known to assist Malaysian entrepreneurs with their businesses through multiple design solutions, tailored to the business nature. When Covid-19 struck, many Malaysian entrepreneurs were at a standstill. They were struggling with overwhelming stocks and marketing their products in the right channels. Suddenly, their lives were turned 180.

COVID-19 has changed the shopping environment forever. It has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and triggered changes in online shopping behaviour. Following the pandemic, more people now shop frequently and rely on the Internet for news. Consumers in the emerging economies have made the greatest shift to online shopping, according to a survey done in nine emerging and developing economies (Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey).

Hence, this has called for the urgency of all countries to seize the opportunities offered by digitalization as we move from pandemic response to recovery. Based on these notes, there is a great need for more intuition, functionality, design and features of e-commerce platforms. As such, arTsen was born to offer an innovative and design-based approach in ensuring the online store is appealing to entrepreneurs and buyers alike.

But why artisanal products?

Good question. Though some of you may disagree that an e-commerce platform should complement the profit-making ventures of a company. For this cause, DDEC is supplementing the needs of Malaysian entrepreneurs in getting their products online. Artisanal products are plenty, but most of the time they are seen and felt in person. Artisanal products are produced by artisans, either completely by hand or with the help of hand tools or even mechanical means. As long as the direct manual contribution of the artisan remains the most substantial component of the finished product, it is classified as an artisanal item. The significant nature of artisanal products derives from their distinctive features. It can be utilitarian, aesthetic, artistic, creative, culturally attached, decorative, functional, traditional, religiously and socially symbolic and meaningful.

Thus, we now have an understanding that artisanal products can be premium offerings. This is mainly based on the work done to produce such a masterpiece with great detailing. In this essence, DDEC offers a well-design online store that excites both merchants and buyers. With a curated e-marketplace, DDEC establishes a shopping experience that is intuitive and natural to potential buyers. arTsen is not merely a marketplace, it is also a hub for artisanal stories through their products.

E-commerce Future

Given the promising venture of e-commerce, DDEC is on the right track to join the e-commerce bandwagon. With the government and regulatory bodies’ collaboration on a wider platform, traders are assured that e-commerce law, policy and regulations are enforced to traders to systematically utilise e-commerce. All these enforcements are also in tandem in protecting e-commerce shoppers. Malaysian are likely to continue shopping online as almost every aspect of their lives now depend on the Internet.

Shopping platforms such as Lazada, Shopee, PG Mall, Zalora, eBay and GoShop has had sales by the millions and hundred thousand respectively. E-commerce is the way forward given Malaysia’s e-commerce market is expected to reach more than RM50 billion by the year 2024. The market will continue to be attractive with room for expansion as it is driven by increasing consumer spending, growing internet users and greater acceptance of mobile payments.

arTsen, the way forward

Although still in its infancy, arTsen is persistently paving its path in becoming a different and unique e-marketplace. Naturally, we compare new e-commerce with the other e-commerce giants in the market. But arTsen by DDEC as its strength. With substantial work in the making, arTsen will be part of entrepreneur development efforts by DDEC. Various programmes have been held between agencies to support local SMEs and micro-businesses to speed up the transformation digital journey together to expand their business.

As e-commerce, arTsen is a ready digital platform for Malaysian entrepreneurs whose products may be categorised as artisanal to be visibly online. Its user interface and user experience makes trading & shopping a breeze for both merchants and buyers. With a complete business process in arTsen such as an automated system for accepting payment, product, shipping and effective marketing strategies, arTsen will be a great addition to Malaysia’s e-commerce platform. DDEC with its mass numbers of SMEs utilising DDEC’s services, whether through training, product packaging or simply a brand consultation, arTsen will have a massive pool of SMEs joining the merchant lists. This translates into more product offerings in the future.