The heartlands of Singapore are thriving hubs for businesses. Tucked away under HDB flats, or gathering around MRT stations like small shopping utopias, nail salons, barbers, and sundry or clothing stores hawk practically everything Singaporeans need. These businesses, opened by your average heartlanders, are the pride of Singapore’s entrepreneurial spirit.
But with the rise of e-commerce, these businesses are struggling to compete with their online counterparts. Businesses like Carousell are replacing Cash Converters, PurelyFresh your local markets, and even FoodPanda is taking over hawker stalls — if you’re not online, you’re going to miss out. But when most neighbourhood store owners are of the older demographic, how do they compete?
One heartland has seen the threat, and has gone online. A local marketing company Egalite Marketing Private Limited has started a one-of-a-kind community project, OneBedok.Com, that provides heartland businesses in Bedok an online platform to sell their wares. From tech to beauty services, dining to housewares, OneBedok is every Easties’ dream: to shop around your neighbourhood without having to leave your home. At the same time, it offers support to heartland shop owners who may not have the expertise to go online.
To use the website is simple: register for an account on OneBedok, and you can visit the stores for anything you may want, anywhere in Bedok. Bedok is a large place, and the website cleverly sections its large database to map out the various areas in Bedok: Bedok North, Bedok South, Bedok Town Centre, Bedok Reservoir, or Simpang Bedok.
Once you’ve selected the products you want, you can then pay for the goods online, and they will be delivered to anyone living in Bedok — with a mere $1 delivery charge. As long as orders are received before 6am, delivery will take place from 7pm-10pm on the same day.
The Heart in Heartland
With a change as big as this, it’s easy to see the benefits for business owners: it gives local businesses a chance to compete with larger brands on a level playing field.
“On OneBedok.com’s part, they also wanted to provide local heartland shop owners with an equal platform to compete with online e-commerce giants,” shared Egalite Marketing in their press release. “As we all know, these heartland shops are mainly managed by the more senior members of the Bedok community and they have little to no knowledge about e-commerce and how to adapt to the changing retail landscape of new age consumer spending habits and trends.”
Going online, however, may seem like a huge change to those who’ve grown up in the heartlands, and especially for those who have thrived upon and helped foster the kampong spirit. Does the spread of e-commerce to our local neighbourhood businesses mean the death of the kampong spirit as we know it? What chance will we have, then, to truly know the area we live in?
Perhaps OneBedok is the only way to save these local businesses, what with the tidal wave of e-commerce platforms these days. With online spending in Singapore predicted to hit an all-time high of $4.4 billion by the end of this year, it’s only fair that our mom-and-pop shops get a piece of the pie as well.
To support OneBedok, register on their website now. You may even stand a chance to win an Apple Watch, if you sign up between the 9th of August and the 28th of September 2015. Every $20 spent also entitles shoppers on the site to a 15% discount in the months of August and September.