MCO: So you want lemang and rendang from Ramadan bazaars? Find out how sellers are preparing for online delivery

  • Technology
  • Thursday, 02 Apr 2020

Amid concerns over Covid-19, Ramadan bazaar sellers are taking their business online. — SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

When graphic designer Amirul Rafiq heard the announcement that there will be no Ramadan bazaar in Negeri Sembilan this year as part of a measure to reduce the spread of Covid-19, he immediately started a Facebook group.

The Seremban Online Bazaar Ramadhan 2020 group, which was set up on March 27, aims to help sellers prepare themselves to cater to customers during fasting month (which starts on April 27) through delivery. Amirul said Ramadan bazaar sellers can promote their business through the group and then contact him to arrange for runners for delivery.

“In Seremban, there could be up to 1,000 sellers who usually set up stalls at popular Ramadan bazaar locations. When it was announced that they couldn’t do any business this year, a friend who is also a seller asked if we can start setting up a network for runners to help them do delivery,” he shared when contacted by LifestyleTech.

The group now has over 7,000 members. Amirul said the plan now is to help the sellers raise awareness about the dishes they will be offering during Ramadan and get customers interested.

Then during Ramadan, he urged sellers to start taking orders the night before so that his runners can perform deliveries the next day and be done before buka puasa (break fast).

“A lot of Ramadan bazaar sellers are from the older generation who may not be familiar with terms like WhatsApp, COD (cash on delivery) and social media. Our aim is to help these groups of people first by helping them understand how to do business online,” Amirul said, adding that he believes dessert items will be popular with customers this year.

Zamri Mohammed, secretary for Gabungan Persatuan Penjaja & Peniaga Kecil Melayu Malaysia (GPPPKMM), agreed that some sellers don’t know how to start engaging with customers online.

“You have to understand that some people like our Mak Cik Kiah (older women) wouldn’t know how to get on social media or engage with delivery platforms to help with their business. They are hoping that someone from the younger generation can reach out to help,” he said.

First set up in 1975, GPPPKMM is a non-governmental organisation aimed at taking care of the welfare of small traders and business people in Malaysia. Zamri claimed the GPPKMM has close to 500,000 members and is currently in the process of registering more members.

“We’re in the process of setting up a database of traders and sellers in Malaysia as part of a proposal that we plan to submit to the Ministry of Finance. We want to help more people apply for and give feedback on financial aids for the movement control order (MCO) period,” he said.

He explained why some sellers are reluctant to sign up with established delivery platforms like Grab and Foodpanda.

“Some of these platforms could take a commission of up to 35% per delivery. So if you’re selling a food item for RM10, then you only take home RM6.50. Sellers don’t want to increase their price just to cover the commission and delivery cost. So they would rather do it independently.”

He urged Ramadan bazaar sellers to start planning on how they can do delivery and focus on areas that are close to them.

Mohd Wan Azenan, who has been selling local specialty nasi ayam tempayan at Ramadan bazaars since 2012, recently set up the Bazaar Ramadhan Online Dungun group with his wife Rozana Manaf on March 31. It now has over 600 members.

The Terengganu state government has also announced that Ramadan bazaars in the state are cancelled and that sellers will instead be given an online business platform, according to a report.

“There are about 100 people who were looking forward to doing Ramadan bazaar business in the town centre here in Dungun. We were worried when the cancellation was announced. Now we have to do what we can to help people promote their food business for delivery during fasting month,” Wan Azenan said.

He believes there will be more online Ramadan bazaar groups later for different areas in Malaysia.

Seeing a similar opportunity, businessman Arif Ridzuan started two Facebook groups, Bazaar Online Shah Alam Ramadhan 2020 and Bazaar Online Klang Ramadhan 2020. He wanted to help his friends who are Ramadan bazaar sellers to raise awareness about their potential delivery business before fasting month begins.

“We’re helping some sellers now to familiarise themselves with the social media platform and how to engage with the right people to make arrangements for delivery. If they want to, they can use popular hashtags like #KitaJagaKita to promote their business,” he said.

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