SINGAPORE – After coping with the onslaught of Covid-19 like most businesses, Ms Javis Wong, who owns a shop at Tiong Bahru Market, also had to deal with reduced foot traffic when some parking spaces were removed.
In an attempt to boost sales, the 52-year-old will be one of nearly 50 heartland hawkers and merchants from the market as well as Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and Food Centre to list products on e-commerce platform Lazada in the coming months.
Ms Wong, whose clothing and fashion accessories business is half of what it was pre-pandemic, said: “Everyone is going online, maybe there’s a chance that it will help. I want to try.”
Lazada aims to launch the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru Marketplace with products such as food, clothes and health products in October this year, and to bring on board more merchants from over 350 stalls at both locations.
It is the third such partnership for Lazada, who also worked with One Kampong Glam and Radin Mas SMC to launch marketplaces in April and May respectively, involvinghundreds of heartland businesses.
According to a Lazada spokesman, the One Kampong Gelam Marketplace generated five figure sales within the first three months.
Lazada chief executive Loh Wee Lee, Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and Food Centre Association chairman Quek Tai Yong and Tiong Bahru Market Hawkers’ Association chairman Loh Teck Seng signed a memorandum of understanding at Tiong Bahru Market to launch the initiative on Friday (Aug 5).
According to Mr Quek and Mr Loh, about half of the participating stallholders are above the age of 60 and not tech-savvy.
Mr Quek, 69, who runs a fish maw soup stall, said he joined the initiative to keep up with the times.
“I joined because I believe in lifelong learning,” he said in Mandarin. “Some stallholders in their 40s and 50s don’t know how to use these platforms too but it’s important to learn.”
For the first 90 days after stallholders list products on Lazada, they will receive training on everything from product photography to optimising the names for their listings, as well as when to launch promotions.
But one potential hurdle is that all training and technical support will be provided in English, which worries stallholders like Mr Gan Beng Chong, 66, who does not speak the language.
The clothing store owner said in Mandarin: “It would be best if they have training in Chinese as well because most of the shop owners in the market are Chinese-speaking, we’re not good at speaking English.”
He plans to ask other merchants who are bilingual for help, although he does not want to trouble them too much.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah, who is also adviser to Tanjong Pagar GRC Grassroots Organisations, said at the signing that the initiative aims to bring the wide array of unique products at both markets to a broader clientele.
Mr Loo Lian Seng, 57, said he plans to list niche kitchenware such as hand-painted rooster bowls, charcoal stoves and wooden rice barrels from his storeselling kitchenware and household items to stand out from the crowd and attract more customers.
“I hope it will not be a one-time purchase that they forget about,” Mr Loo said. “Hopefully, they will come down to collect and see more things in the store.”