Entrepreneurs take to multiple platforms

Some people prefer to inspect items such as fruits and vegetables before buying them and that is not possible when purchased online. — Filepic

JOHOR BARU: Some small business owners and petty traders have been running on several platforms concurrently since March to survive the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apart from running their stalls and shops physically, using online platforms and delivery services, some are also intensifying their efforts to attract customers by sending them promotional messages.

Night market trader Mohd Hisyamuddin Hamzah, 26, said that businesses of all sizes must be creative in their approach to attract customers these days and could not only depend on one method.

“Previously, I would focus all my energy in running my stall at the market.

“I would be thinking about what kind of food appeals to the public and how I could attract more people to my stall.

“However, that is no longer enough. I have to now use a few different methods, including using online platforms, to woo more customers, ” said Hisyamuddin.

He added that the frequent changes in the standard operating procedures (SOP) for stall and market operations was part of the reason he did not depend solely on the physical business.

“The SOP would change depending on the number of cases in the area.

“Each local council would also have different instructions for traders under their jurisdictions.

“Due to these uncertainties, which could also lead to the temporary closure of markets, it is safer for me to use different platforms to keep my business afloat, ” he said.

He added that he would keep regular customers informed via text messages about the food he sold and any special offers.

A fellow trader, S. Nageswari, 47, who sells cookies and traditional Indian snacks, said that she started using online platforms in March after the implementation of the movement control order (MCO).

“My daughter taught me how to use an online platform for my business and I was able to get used to it after a few weeks.

“I thought that I would stop using it after being allowed to open my shop again but I ended up using it until today, ” she said, adding that about 30% of her current revenue were from online sales.

Nageswari said she would continue using the platform until the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had ebbed.

Malaysian Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders Associations president Datuk Yow Boon Choon said that while the online platform was a good alternative, it was not accessible to all business owners and traders.

“Not all of them know how to use the platform.

“Most of the petty traders here are in their 50s and unfamiliar with the technology.

“Only a handful of them are comfortable using it.

“On top of that, not all kinds of businesses are suitable for the online platform.

“People still prefer to inspect some items before buying it, ” he said, citing vegetables and fruits as examples.

He added that while using several different platforms would increase the chances of business survival at the moment, it might not necessarily be helpful in the long run.

“It is a good temporary measure but in the long term, it is important for markets and stalls to continue operating physically, ” he said.

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