Retailers get boost with halal e-market

Launch of Aladdin Street will help small firms reach out to more customers in this sector

An e-commerce marketplace specialising in halal goods and services was launched here yesterday, giving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a leg up in an increasingly competitive environment.

With nearly 60 merchants on board, including 55 SMEs, the launch of Aladdin Street gels with the Government's push for retail firms to use e-commerce to reach out to more customers.

The platform, which will eventually have offices in 30 countries, aims to promote halal products as a healthy, premium option even for non-Muslims.

Aladdin Group, the company behind the e-marketplace, is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The businesses were screened for quality and compliance with halal standards by an in-house team, and operate in industries that range from food and beverage to cosmetics to fashion.

Aladdin Group co-founder Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor cited a "growing acceptance" of the health benefits of halal products even in non-Muslim countries.

But a lack of reliable marketing platforms means only a fraction of the demand can be met, he said.

Noting that Singapore is one of the largest importers of halal products, he said: "Given the country's good track record in governance and high standards of halal compliance, Aladdinstreet.com.sg will help these SMEs access this market to its fullest potential."

Ms Jacinta Ong, 40, who founded tea retailer Tea Ideas, sells her products through a blogshop and at roadshows in malls.

She has not set up a permanent stall because of the high rental and manpower costs.

"I think the right way forward is going online and collaborating with other retailers to harness demand in the halal market," she said.

Vielkaline founder Gavyn Lim, 38, said the platform would help him target big halal markets such as the Middle East.

The firm sells alkaline ionised mineral water.

"The entry barrier to putting my products up for sale at supermarkets is too high," he said. "It is a lot cheaper to put them online."

The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) said yesterday that it is stepping up efforts to help local SMEs innovate and digitise their businesses.

Last year, it took SMEs to Beijing and Shenzhen to learn about e-commerce business models in these Chinese cities and how they could penetrate the China market.

This month, SCCCI organised a trip to Silicon Valley in the United States so SMEs could engage with businesses there to explore potential collaborations.

It said it would continue to work with government agencies to help SMEs identify suitable partners to support innovation efforts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'Retailers get boost with halal e-market'. Print Edition | Subscribe