Social distancing for Covid-19? Shop for seafood and bid for clothes online

Shahrizal paid RM120 for a tokol or bundle set with 25 vintage t-shirts from a seller on a live bidding platform on Facebook. — Photo: Shahrizal Mohd Ramli

As upbeat music plays in the background, Gavin Gan tells his customers to quickly put in their order before time runs out. He assures them that the seafood he is offering is fresh and they don’t even have to leave their homes to get it.

Sometimes, Gan will even throw in some free dessert or give away smartphones as part of the deal.

Free gadgets with fish? Welcome to the world of livestream sales channels on Facebook, where items from king crabs to branded watches and vintage items are available for purchase.

Gan, the founder of Daddy’s Seafood based in Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, says his sale platform goes on live every Monday to Friday from 8pm.

“It’s easy. Customers on Facebook just have to tune in during our livestreamed sale session and tell us if they want one set of any items we’re selling by saying +1 for one set or one kg (kilogramme) or +2 for more,” Gan says during a phone interview with StarLifestyle Tech.

However, Gan says his channel has since moved away from livebidding to "offering an item for a low price for a limited time so that more customers can afford it".

After customers put in their orders; Gan’s sales team will contact them to finalise the order by getting their names, delivery details and sorting out the payment via online. Typically, Gan says items will reach his customers in two days.

Gan believes that customers will find that his seafood items are priced more affordably than the average market place.

“For example, we offer thick cut salmon for RM30 per kg. In some markets out there, you may have to pay up to RM68 per kilo. We also offer frozen larger lobster for around RM300 for 2.5kg. I think some grocers outside are selling 1kg for up to RM500,” Gan claims.

Kelvin Chew, who co-founded Cheras-based Ah Boy Pasar on Facebook in 2018, says customers often look out for food items like salmon, pork and prawns on his platform. He gets around 100 viewers per livestream session which starts from 11.30am until late, on Monday to Saturday.

“The market for livebidding platforms is now very competitive. I think there are around 200 to 300 live channels out there right now,” Chew shares.

"We used to sell our items in an auction-style sale where the item will go to the customer who offers the highest price. Then we changed to just offering sets of the same item and let more customers buy by placing their orders: +1 means one set and so on," he added.

He claims his customers spend an average of RM300 to RM400 each time they place orders on Ah Boy Pasar, where items are typically priced at less than RM100.

Avid customers on these live channels have also created Facebook groups to share photos of the meals they make out of their purchases. The Ah Boy Pasar Group page for example has around 7,000 followers.

Ah Boy Pasar customers would typically share pictures of the meals they made using the items bought from the platform onto a Facebook group. — Ah Boy Pasar FacebookAh Boy Pasar customers would typically share pictures of the meals they made using the items bought from the platform onto a Facebook group. — Ah Boy Pasar Facebook

Boon for vintage hunters

For Shahrizal Mohd Ramli, a store manager for an events company based in Shah Alam, the live bidding channels on Facebook is where he goes to score items like vintage clothing. He cites LebaiVintage Store which has over 16,000 followers and Kassim Vintage with around 12,000 followers as some of the more popular groups.

“It’s easy. You just tune in when a seller has a livestream session and he’ll go through a few items with viewers. You can message the seller if you want more details about the item such as asking for close-up photos of labels or certifications,” he says.

Shahrizal typically looks out for a bundle set of vintage items or “tokol”. The items would then go to the customer who offers the highest price after the bidding period is over. Some tokol sets with 25 vintage t-shirts can go for RM120.

“Popular items that bundle hunters like myself look out for these days are old rock concert t-shirts. I’ve heard that some collectors are willing to pay up to RM13,000 for an old The Rolling Stones concert t-shirt from the 1970s. Another highly-sought after item is a Sukajan jacket where a buyer has paid RM18,000 for a vintage piece,” he claims.

Vintage, he explains, is any item that was made or first released more than 15 years ago. The most that Shahrizal has spent is RM550 on a tokol set with 35 pieces of clothing. After receiving his order, Shahrizal went through his set and found a vintage Hawaiian shirt. He placed the item for sale on his Facebook page.

“A buyer paid RM570 for that shirt. I couldn’t believe that I’ve covered the cost of my tokol with one shirt,” he says.

There are some private Facebook groups as well where users have to request to join. Shahrizal said the groups would offer an item for purchase for a limited period of time. Buyers would place their bids and check on the group from time to time to see how the pricing has changed.

“Users can place a minimum RM10 per bid. Sometimes there is an option to buy now where users just pay the full retail price.”

While these items offered on the private Facebook groups are not strictly vintage, Shahrizal says buyers will look for limited edition or special releases.

Shahrizal has bid for a G-Shock watch, popularly known as “Mat Moto” among collectors. He paid RM220 for his purchase and says the item typically goes for around RM400 in stores.

“I took my watch to a shop and asked the seller to authenticate it. He said it was genuine.”

Shahrizal paid RM260 for this watch, saying it's priced around RM300 in retail stores. — Shahrizal Mohd RamliShahrizal paid RM260 for this watch, saying it's priced around RM300 in retail stores. — Shahrizal Mohd Ramli

Changing the shopping experience

As with any other online purchase, Shahrizal advises first-time buyers to always read the reviews on the page and check with other users about the reputation of the seller.

“We have a strong buyer community that looks out for each other. You can always ask around and other buyers will share their experience. Bad sellers always get flagged,” he explains.

Gan says his platform offers seafood that are cheaper than the average market place. — Daddy's Seafood/FacebookGan says his platform offers seafood that are cheaper than the average market place. — Daddy's Seafood/Facebook

Tammy Tan of DD Live Fishery says first-time buyers can always ask questions to help them decide what items they want to purchase: "The livestream session is for customers to see the product before placing their order, and they can ask us questions or interact with the seller."

“They can even ask us what’s the best way to cook the fish or how to prepare it, ” she says.

Chew of Ah Boy Pasar promises that if the items that customers received are not what they expected, he will provide a refund.

"We want people to keep coming back to us for the convenience," he says.

Most of the items on Daddy's Seafood are offered at a fixed price, but Gan says users can try calling him “leng chai” (handsome man in Cantonese) if they want to save some money.

“They can try lah. Sometimes when I’ve had a little bit too much to drink during the livestream session, I’d be happy to give some discounts,” he says with a laugh.

Gan shares that with the Covid-19 outbreak, he hopes to see more users try his service to get the food items they need without having to leave home.

“Just stay home and let us deliver to you,” he adds.

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