Company Setup Guide: Starting a Retail Business in Malaysia

Business  and Company Incorporation Guide Series

Retails business refer to a business sector that sell goods or services to customer for their needs and wants. They sell goods and services in a store, or they can sell the item though online platform and then shipped to the customers. Example of retails are clothing, food & beverage, etc. There are a few steps need to consider before your company incorporation and how to start retail business in Malaysia

Step 1-Create your business plan

It is important to have a plan for your business as it gives you a physical roadmap to ensure every step take wisely to manage your business. Idiom says, ‘if you fail to plan, then you are you are plan to fail’. Things that you need to include in your business plan such as marketing, branding, staffing, and business budget. You should think about the amount of money that you want to put in to start your business. Creating a business plan is the most important step before you start any kind of business. The business plan could help to determine your target market, calculate start-up cost, number of staff need and more. Your business plan should include anything that will affect to your company such as marketing strategies, the price of your product or services. A well plan business plan can be a guideline for your first few years of operation. It can also be the blueprint of your company that you can use to persuade prospect investor when you need external financing. 

Step 2-Determine your business niche & select product or services

A niche market is a segment of a larger market that has its own unique needs and preferences. Having a niche for your retail store help you to differentiate from your competitor who aim for a wide audience. For example, there may have many fast-food restaurants in town that sell burger and fries, but you may be the only retailer that specializes in provide healthy fast food such as poke bowl. By researching niche market, you will be able to determines what segment have already exist and explore a potential one and think about whether it can become profitable. Next is to decide what product or services that you want to provide to your target customers. There are variety of products and services available in the market and you will need to decide how you can make profit from your selected product or services. With the niche market research, you will be able to see the opportunities of the business and to decide to which product or services that will successfully bring to the marketplace. 

Step 3-Marketing research

After you have determined your business niche and select the product or services, it is important to do market research. When you do market research, you can use your finding to measure the success of your current marketing plan and update to a better plan. Market research is essential for starting and running a successful business as it gives you the business direction and helps you to understand what your customer needs and want. It is not only help you to learn about your customer but also to learn a lot about your industry and your competitors. By having the market research report, you will be easier to make the decision and act for the next step. Besides, that you will be able to identify the problems before they happen. 

Step 4-Register your business and open bank account

After you have done with your business plan and market research, next step is to learn how to start a retail business; to make your business official. You will need to choose a name of your business, perhaps a name that can reflects your business purposes, brand identity and a meaning of the name that can represent your business. It is also important to make sure the name is available.

Next is to decide your legal structure, a business structure determines how you’re taxed, a degree of legal protection you’re afforded, business’s ownership structure and the ability to get the capital fund. After you have chosen your business name and business structure, you can proceed to register your business through Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). There are few types of business vehicle for you to start your business in Malaysia:

  • Sole proprietorship (also known as enterprise)
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability partnership (LLP)
  • Company (also known as Sdn. Bhd.)

There are pros and cons of each type of set up. The choice of business set up usually depends on the business risk, capital and funding structure, future plan, tax consideration and more. For initial business consultation and company incorporation/company registration services, you can contact us here. Our company secretary team is ready to assist you on company registration and guide you to start your retail business.

Next, is to open your company account. It is importance to organize your finances from the beginning of your business by separate from your personal account. It will be easier to manage all the expenses and revenue if you have a company account, which can help you to keep track of your financial. If your are a Sdn. Bhd. entity, please remember to ask your company secretary to open bank account opening resolution and a set of certified true copy (CTC) SSM form (E.g Section 14, Section 17, Section 58 and etc).

Local banks are supportive of business start up and offer low initial deposit requirements to get your account started. Contact us for bank account opening services with our partnering banks for door to door visit and service:

  • UOB Bank
  • Alliance Bank
  • OCBC Bank
  • RHB Bank

Step 5-Find a physical location

Physical location is also another important step to think about. The location of your retail store can impact the success of your business. Your business is not going to success if there is not enough customer visit to your store. The right location for your business mainly subject to who are your target market. For example, if you are opening a toy store, you probably will not choose a neighbourhood that next to a university that toward students. Depending on the product you are selling, to select the right location, you will need to take into consideration that:

  • the demographic of traffic
  • any existing competitor stores
  • the rent rate and store layout
  • the neighbourhood
  • the accessibility
  • the ease of parking and etc aas customer might refuse to go due to the parking issue.

Step 6-Obtain licenses and permits

After you have successfully incorporated in Malaysia, it does not give you the right to start doing your business. You might need to get the necessary licences, consents, permissions, registrations, and/or authorizations from the applicable governmental, statutory, or regulatory organisations, authorities, or agencies before you are allowed to operate your business, depending on the nature of your business. In order to obtain your business license, you are required to submit your application to the local town council where your business located.

For a detail guideline regarding to business license application, you may click here for more information. Business license searching is available at MalaysiaBiz Portal.

Information and guidance on business licensing also available through SMEinfo Portal.

As a retailer with physical store, usually you are required to apply business license and signboard license (if applicable) from local authority such as DBKL (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur) or MBPJ (Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya), depending where your shop is located. The requirements and cost of license may vary according to each local authority. The usual documents may be required are:

For Company/ Sdn Bhd

  • relevant statutory forms - Certificate of incorporation Sec 17, Superform Sec 14 and etc
  • Photos of your business premise (front and interior of premise);
  • Sample of signboard indicating design and colour (if applicable); and
  • Photos showing the location of signboard (if applicable) 

For Enterprise/ Partnership

  • Certificate of Registration of Business (Form D) – 1 copy;
  • e-SSM Business Profile – 1 copy;
  • Photos of your business premise (front and interior of premise);
  • Copy of any Business owner/Partner’s NRIC as stated in Form 49 – 1 copy;
  • Sample of signboard indicating design and color (if applicable);
  • Photos showing location of signboard (if applicable).

Step 7-Establish relationships with vendors and suppliers.

Next step is to find trustworthy vendors and suppliers and build a good relationship with them. By having reliable vendors and suppliers can be the most crucial part that led to the potential success of your business. There are a few criteria need to take into consideration when selecting the right vendors and suppliers such as budget, quality of the product, good reputation who can guarantee to deliver your items on time and their customer service that easy to contact in case you have any issue. It would be better if you can build connection with several suppliers because you need to have a contingency plan in plan as without merchandise to sell, you would not have business to run. There are some tips you may consider to identify and get reliable suppliers:

  1. Define your product needs: Determine what products you need and the quantity to help narrow down your search for a supplier.
  2. Conduct market research: Look for suppliers in trade directories, exhibitions, and online platforms. Research their reputation, experience, and reviews.
  3. Attend trade shows: Attend local trade shows and exhibitions to meet potential suppliers in person and learn about their products.
  4. Request quotes: Contact multiple suppliers and request quotations for your required products to compare their pricing and quality.
  5. Check their facilities: Visit their warehouse or factory to check their facilities, production process, and quality control measures.
  6. Ask for samples: Request samples of their products to assess their quality, packaging, and shipping time.
  7. Negotiate terms: Negotiate the terms of the contract, including pricing, payment terms, delivery, and product warranties.
  8. Sign a contract: Sign a formal agreement with the supplier to ensure that both parties understand their roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

# If you are in Food & Beverage (F&B) business, you may need to check and ensure the products are Halal-certified to tap into local Malaysia muslim market.

Step 8-Find the right Point of Sale (POS) system

A significant step in starting a retail shop is selecting your POS system. POS systems are software applications that combine inventory, sales, and retail transactions with other company management tools into one streamlined platform, giving retailers everything, they need to run their operations. Using a POS reduces time spent on administration and offers deeper insights into data on sales, inventory, clients, and staff. Many POS systems also have integrated payment processing, reducing the number of vendors you need to work with. When choosing a POS, there are numerous things to consider. Write down a wish list of the qualities you desire before you begin to truly examine other possibilities. Here are some of the popular POS system that can integrate with accounting software that we recommend:

  • Storehub (
  • iChef (

Please reach out to our team for assistance on integration services of your POS to accounting system to reduce manual data entry and ensure seamless data synchronization.

Step 9-Hire and train your staff

You might need to hire a group of employees to serve as the front lines of your business. When interviewing a candidate for a retail role, make sure you are recruiting them not just for their experience but also for their attitude. A retail person is representing your business that can directly affect your customer satisfaction. Make sure you start training your staff before your business grand opening. You can train your employees to use your POS system, manage your inventory and your product knowledge so that your staff can serve the customers and you can focus on your business growth. 

When employing and managing employees in Malaysia, it's important to follow all relevant laws and regulations, including those related to minimum wage, working hours, and health and safety. Employers are also required to provide certain benefits and support to their employees, such as paid leave, overtime pay, epf socso registration and health insurance. Additionally as an employer, it's important to foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture, and to effectively communicate expectations and goals with your employee.

Learn more on the registration and submission requirements on payroll compliance in Malaysia

Step 10-Market your retail business

When things are going smooth, it is the time for you to start to run your business and bring your customer in. You will need to develop a marketing strategy to promote your business to your targeted customers. There are a few marketing strategies that you can use to promote your business such as Traditional advertising, social media, influencer and launch an event. In order to boost your marketing strategies, it is important to think about your brand image. Your brand image should link with your shop name, logo, store interior design and reflect the character of your business and connect with your target customer.

Starting your retail business today. Wanna know more? Check out our services of Company Incorporation here!

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Writing your Business Plan

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If you're looking to form an Sdn. Bhd. in Malaysia, or have any other questions on starting your business, contact the team at Altomate. Wanting to start a retail business on your own? Check out our Company Incorporation Service for assistance.

We're here to answer any questions, provide resources, and give you the exact answers you need to get your business to the next level. We thank you for reading this article and hope it gave you some new thoughts and business ideas to move forward with.