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 Ramadan 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 one day, he and his fiancée created nine Bazaar Rakyat sites—one main site and eight state sites for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Perak, Johor, Putrajaya, Melaka, and Negeri Sembilan.
By April 6, they had 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 a bit 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 MYR 150 (USD 34).
If you visit the website, you’ll notice that it’s stated there are more than 1,200 vendors registered, but Iskandar shared that the number of those who have actually completed their store setup is around 300 to 500 across eight states.
Those of us who have been to Ramadan 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 [movement control order] state, we would not be able to physically check on their store or business premises, 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 a 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 deliveries to customers.
Aside from Bungkusit, which 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.
The vendors will be the ones in charge of organizing delivery and applying the charges that they deem fit for their customers.
Spoiled 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 Ramadan 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.
Out of the eight 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 spoiled for choice.
Take Selangor as an 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 20 km from your address.
You might still be able to order from shops further away, but Iskandar shared that the delivery fees incurred will 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.
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 Ramadan bazaars and pasar,” he said, but there are a couple of things they’ll have to 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 bringing on board as many delivery service providers as possible across Malaysia to make the products more accessible.
This article first appeared in Vulcan Post.