Author’s Blurb: Ramadhan is now upon us and, unfortunately, we won’t be enjoying our yearly bazaars thanks to COVID-19 and the MCO. It’s definitely for the better, but one can’t help but miss the smell of delicious food wafting through the air and coming home with bags full of various food and drinks.
On April 5, Iskandar had a talk with his father about the current situation and how it would affect small businesses and the B40, who are usually part of these Ramadhan bazaars.
After their discussions, Iskandar came up with an idea that could help. What he had in mind was an e-bazaar where these sellers could list their profiles and products to sell.
In only 1 day, he and his fiancée created 9 Bazaar Rakyat sites (1 main site and 8 state sites for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Perak, Johor, Putrajaya, Melaka, and Negeri Sembilan).
By April 6, they had already made a social media post to position Bazaar Rakyat as Malaysia’s first e-bazaar with the #bazaarfromhome tagline.
Bazaar Rakyat isn’t just limited to food and drinks either; on the platform, small businesses can sell various products like baju raya, footwear, handbags, gadgets, and even electronic appliances.
Iskandar described the platform as one that’s similar to Lazada or Shopee with the element of foodpanda and GrabFood.
Setting The Foundations
While it was Iskandar and his fiancée who created the sites, it still took a total team of 17 to fully develop their plans.
As the CEO of AiM Technologies, a website and mobile app developing company, Iskandar was able to leverage on their existing server and tools, so setting up Bazaar Rakyat cost them less than RM150.
If you were to visit the website, you’d notice that it’s stated there are more than 1,200 vendors registered, but he shared that the number of those who have actually completed their store setup is around 300 to 500 across 8 states.
Those of us who have been to Ramadhan bazaars are probably no stranger to the occasional stomachaches that can come from buying from unfamiliar F&B vendors.
With that in mind, I just had to ask Iskandar how we could ensure food safety when buying on Bazaar Rakyat.
He replied, “In this MCO state, we would not be able to physically check on their store or business premise(s), therefore we hand out the SOP of safety and hygiene as our virtual instructions. In any case of poisoning/accidents on the food, the vendors have to be responsible.”
When you click on a product listing on the site, you’ll be able to clearly see the business behind it, so you’re not just buying from some contactless profile.
For the delivery portion of this e-bazaar, Iskandar is working with Bungkusit, MatRunner, and MrSpeedy, and he’s also in talks with Pickupp, MatDespatch, ResQ, and ZeptoExpress to help the vendors with delivery to customers.
Aside from Bungkusit who does on-demand delivery, the other service providers who are already onboard will have a cut-off time for their deliverymen to fulfil food and drink orders before buka puasa time.
The vendors will be the ones in charge of organising delivery and applying the charges that they deem fit for their customers.
Spoilt For Choice
Scrolling through their website, I’m not surprised to see that the bulk of products fall under F&B. I’ve seen a few non-F&B vendors in physical Ramadhan bazaars before, but I don’t think people would typically shop for such products there.
Unless perhaps you’ve run out of time to buy your Hari Raya clothes, of course.
Out of the 8 states that Bazaar Rakyat caters to, Melaka, Kedah and Perak have a smaller number of F&B vendors, so if you’re living in the other states, consider yourself more spoilt for choice.
Take Selangor, for example, with its 308 F&B items to choose from. One thing to note is that for an ideal delivery speed and cost, you should opt to filter the businesses (under the ‘kedai-kedai’ tab) to find ones that are within 15-20km away from your address.
You might still be able to order from shops further away, but Iskandar shared that the delivery fees incurred will of course be higher.
Unfortunately, this means you might not be able to get that kuih you were eyeing on the site earlier, though you’ll still have choices (unless you live in the middle of nowhere, like I do).
After you’ve added the items to your cart, you can checkout where you’ll be prompted to fill in your personal details.
Your delivery fee will be automatically calculated once you’ve filled in your address. Aside from filtering your location, I’d say it’s a pretty standard e-commerce experience, and the site isn’t overly complicated to navigate.
Hopefully we’ll be seeing improvements made to the site along the way, as Iskandar views this initiative as a long-term one.
“We are in position to replace traditional Ramadhan bazaars and pasar,” he said, but there are a couple of things they’d have to first tackle.
The first would be getting government support to help them in their mission to resurrect the economy and help other SMEs, and the second one would be onboarding as many delivery service providers as possible across Malaysia to make the products more accessible.
Bottom Line: If you know me, chances are that you’ll know that I can count the number of times I’ve shopped online on one hand. However, I’m slowly warming up to the idea of F&B e-commerce particularly, since the idea of eating something more than homecooked meals is rather appealing.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Bazaar Rakyat