AirAsia has launched an initiative named "Save Our Shops (S.O.S)", which aims to help local businesses tide through the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative is part of a bigger campaign titled "#InThisTogether", and urges local merchants to list on OURSHOP to sell their items. When it first launched in 2018, OURSHOP was dedicated to selling duty-free items online but eventually transitioned to working with local businesses in Malaysia. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the retail sector, AirAsia has decided to double down efforts on aiding local merchants and help them become eCommerce ready. To drive awareness and traffic for the local merchants, AirAsia is hosting OURSHOP on its official website, airasia.com.
A quick check by A+M showed that the website currently sells products from six different categories: daily essentials products, fresh produce, healthcare, fashion, children, and virtual lessons. AirAsia is offering zero commission and listing fees for merchants who market their products on OURSHOP. Merchants will also be able to leverage on airasia.com’s traffic to reach out to more consumers, as well as benefit from Teleport’s logistics infrastructure. The campaign will run until end April and products will be delivered via Teleport, the logistics arm of AirAsia.
In a statement to A+M, Teleport CEO Pete Chareonwongsak said the campaign took about a week to launch as it already had the right resources - an eCommerce platform and a logistics arm - in place. He added that AirAsia wanted to offer local merchants a platform to amplify their rally cry - not for charity or goodwill, but for business stability.
"For merchants, it means being online and obtaining more visibility, reaching a wider audience. For consumers, we wanted to surface and deepen appreciation for these brands, products and businesses that were built with pride, craft and love," he added. According to Chareonwongsak, airasia.com receives an average of two million visitors per day during a typical period before the Movement Control Order.
"AirAsia is promoting the campaign across all available marketing channels. We have helped businesses to go online in three days, and that in itself is a massive win," he said. Chareonwongsak explained that this was a massive task and it also enlisted volunteers within AirAsia to support the system, including onboarding the merchants. More Teleport drivers were also engaged to help with the growing demand for home deliveries.
As of 8 April, over 580 merchants have successfully registered on OURSHOP. It also received approximately 3,600 merchant applications since the campaign was announced on 4 April. New merchants include organic fresh produce farmers Mascorn, sustainable roasted cricket superfood Ento, soy wax candlemakers 5Luze Scents, ASEAN delights Santan, breakfast granola snacks W Place and Kintry, dessert makers Shweets Chocolates & Confectioneries.
"We are targeting as many local Malaysian merchants as possible for the time being. Teleport will deliver within West Malaysia but will expand to East Malaysia and other international markets soon," he added.
Meanwhile, AirAsia said it recognises how local businesses are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and would like to do its part to help. "We have the right platform and infrastructure, and in this travel down-time, what better way to put our resources to good use than by lending a helping hand to those who need it," the company said. AirAsia's CEO Tony Fernandes and executive chairman Kamarudin Meranun have also each posted a video on Instagram and Facebook respectively to promote the S.O.S campaign.
In his video, Fernandes said the team at AirAsia is being positive, and turning the crisis into an opportunity. He also urged merchants to join the platform with the hashtag #InThisTogether. "As we have helped millions of people to fly, we now want to use our infrastructure and resources to help many retailers who are shut and can’t earn any revenue," he added. The video has garnered 34,924 views at the time of writing, with netizens applauding AirAsia's efforts, calling the campaign "a great initiative", "a noble act", and "a great job". Similarly, Kamarudin's video on Facebook has garnered 899 positive reactions, 156 comments, and 734 shares.
Additionally for its #InThisTogether campaign, AirAsia Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AirAsia Group, has launched a public digital donation drive to help vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. The donation drive will run until the end of April as well. According to a press release, all donations will be channelled to social enterprises and charities such as Perak State Parks, SEED Foundation and Beyond Borders Malaysia that provide food and medical aid to Orang Asli families, people without permanent shelter and refugees. AirAsia Foundation also said it is monitoring the situation of its social enterprise grantees and their vulnerable community members, many of whom lost daily subsistence wages as a result of movement restrictions imposed across the region.
AirAsia Foundation executive director Yap Mun Ching said: “The pandemic has disproportionately affected those who were already socio-economically disadvantaged. Among our grantees, several have reported appeals from community members for food aid. In these extraordinary times, we call for collective action and hope that as many people as possible will give their support.”
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