Online portals offer hope for merchants hit by cancellation of bazaars
Bottles of cookies, packs of chips and other Hari Raya snacks Ms Roselin Khatoon had planned to sell at a Ramadan bazaar are littered all over her three-room Housing Board flat, which feels like an obstacle course.
And with news last month that all bazaars would be cancelled, the quality assurance inspector at an engineering firm, who is in her 50s, was prepared to lose some of the $70,000 she had invested in the goods she had ordered.
But this might not be the case, thanks to B. Halal, one of several new platforms providing a channel for Muslim consumers to buy their Ramadan and Hari Raya goods.
To be launched today, the platform is an app-based listing of Hari Raya-centric businesses such as Ms Roselin's.
It was started by web designer Muhammad Alkhatib and businessman Hamdan Razali, who have partnered veteran bazaar operator En Niche Events and event management company S-Lite Group to organise a virtual marketplace in the wake of the cancelled bazaars.
B. Halal is free for any business to join and will also feature a live-streamed variety show hosted by top celebrities.
Ms Roselin, founder of #IceboxCookies, said of the platform: "Hopefully with this, I can clear the stock I have... B. Halal is the best I can do now, and I hope people will want to buy my kueh online."
On March 18, the People's Association (PA) said that all the bazaars it usually organises will not be returning this year, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to practise social distancing in public venues.
Last Saturday, PA announced it had launched an e-commerce platform intended to replace the bazaar, which will include delivery to customers.
GeylangBazaar.Online will provide a service to collect goods from vendors who have signed on with PA and arrange for the goods to be delivered.
Gobaza.sg is another online portal for merchants to sign up and be listed for free. The app was started by Mr Khairul Yunos, 30, and his two partners, who are all co-founders of Hubreno, a social commerce app that developed Gobaza.
He told The Straits Times that besides merchants, community partners can also create accounts to upload their Ramadan projects such as donation drives and distribution of necessities to needy beneficiaries.
"We hope that all those merchants who are affected by the cancellation of the bazaar this year can leverage us for their business using our platform," he said.
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