SINGAPORE: Having been running his business at Tekka Market for more than four decades, Mr Mohamed Mustafa Shahul Hamid is a familiar face to those who frequent the market in Little India.
But on Tuesday (May 5), the 62-year-old took to Facebook to promote his mutton stall for the first time.
“I’ve been doing the business here for 45 years,” he told hundreds of online audience members via a livestream on the social media platform. “It was previously (run) by my father in the early 50s and now it’s almost 80 years that our business has been established.”
Showing various types of meat before the camera, Mr Mustafa and his son took turns to explain how the stall sources its produce from Australia, New Zealand and even Ireland.
“Good quality. Very nice and tasty,” they said, while dishing out cooking tips once in a while. “Season it with salt and pepper will do because it’s very fresh.”
The result was better than they thought, with everything sold out in 30 minutes. Mr Mustafa said they raked in more than S$1,000 in sales.
“The support has been overwhelming,” his son, Nizamdeen, said towards the end of the livestream. “We actually planned for one hour (of) sales but it’s now half an hour and we are sold out.”
“It was great fun,” Mr Mustafa told CNA on Tuesday afternoon, adding that he had specially dressed up for his first Facebook Live experience.
“I’m very happy and of course, I would do this again.”
FROM WET MARKET TO WEB MARKET
Mr Mustafa was one of the five stall owners from Tekka Market who were hawking items from vegetables to fish from behind their phones on Tuesday.
Each vendor was given a one-hour slot to stream live from the Tekka Online Market Facebook page, in an event that was organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and creative agency BlkJ.
Customers who would like to place an order can do so by commenting on the livestream. Orders will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
Once confirmed, customers will have to send in their contact numbers and delivery addresses through Facebook messenger, and make payment via PayNow. As part of the event, free islandwide delivery is offered to those who spend more than S$20.
IMDA said it wanted to showcase how businesses and consumers can tap technology to do things in a new and safer manner amid the “circuit breaker” period. Wet markets were chosen as they form an “essential part” of people’s daily lives.
“We are happy (to work with our partners) to help stallholders learn how to sell online and reach more customers, and encourage customers to buy and pay online,” said IMDA’s assistant chief executive Jane Lim.
“This is part of our continuing efforts to help our society and businesses go digital and find new opportunities in the new normal.”
With his stall seeing a 30 per cent drop in revenue since the circuit breaker rules kicked in, Mr Mustafa said participating in the live-streaming sale event was a good way to promote his business to a different group of audience.
He is also mulling having an online presence, after seeing a drop in walk-in customers due to the virus outbreak.
“We want to continue running our business during the COVID-19 period … so we have to think about how we can serve our customers in other means so that they can continue to get their daily needs.”
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IMDA told CNA that the live-streaming sessions chalked up more than 28,000 in total views, with the highest number of viewers for each livestream ranging from 800 to 1,200 people. A second run of the event has been scheduled for May 12 at noon.
But with nearly 1,000 people tuning in at the same time, some commented that their questions about the items on sale were left unanswered. Some also described the “first-come, first served” process as “stressful”.
According to the latest updates on Facebook, orders are still being processed and some deliveries may be delayed. Event organisers had planned for all deliveries to be made on the same day to ensure freshness of the products.
Nevertheless, there were others who thought the event was interesting and commended the stall owners for their efforts.
“You are doing great!” said one consumer after Mr Victor Chia, the first vendor to go live at around noon, said he would learn from the experience and do better during the next livestream.
In response to CNA’s queries on whether the initiative could be expanded to other wet markets and if IMDA is pleased with the response on Tuesday, a spokesperson said: “We encourage more store owners to join on May 12. Hopefully it will provide more inspiration for many more markets around Singapore to try out something similar.”
SUPPORTING SENIORS DURING CIRCUIT BREAKER
The livestream is also part of IMDA’s efforts to help seniors tap technology during the circuit breaker period, which is in place until Jun 1.
For instance, a weekly virtual digital clinic will be available from May 15 to Jul 18 to allow people to book consultation sessions for one-to-one assistance on mobile apps or phone settings.
IMDA’s Digital Pod Learning Series will also offer 40 short classes online on the use of social media, coding, photo editing and other topics from May 19 for twice a week.
Meanwhile, the sale event at Tekka Market aims to make online shopping “more relatable” to seniors, IMDA said in a separate press release.
One senior who tuned in to the livestream was 55-year-old Kendra Ong.
“I always purchase my fish, fruits and vegetables from a nearby wet market and I will try to save time by calling the fishmonger (to place an order first) so that I can save on waiting time. But even then, I still have to go down and pick up my items,” she told CNA.
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Having already tried online shopping for groceries, being able to do the same for fresh produce will save time and help seniors like her, especially on rainy days, she said.
More importantly, it is “essential” for seniors to heed the call to stay home as much as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak, she noted.
Unfortunately, Madam Ong said she did not manage to secure an order on Tuesday as she was not able to “comment fast enough”.
She hopes the initiative can be extended to other wet markets in Singapore, but suggested setting aside a priority slot for seniors.
Additional reporting by Nadhir Mokhtar.