High-tech draw at traditional Chinese New Year street bazaar

Visitors taking part in a lucky draw at the Shopee booth at the Chinese New Year festive street bazaar in Chinatown yesterday. They can learn first-hand how to shop on the app as well as purchase New Year goodies via the app.
Visitors taking part in a lucky draw at the Shopee booth at the Chinese New Year festive street bazaar in Chinatown yesterday. They can learn first-hand how to shop on the app as well as purchase New Year goodies via the app.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A traditional street bazaar is going high-tech.

Shoppers at this year's Chinese New Year market in Chinatown will find two unusual booths nestled among the ones selling pomelos, decorations, flowers and snacks.

They are by two local online platforms: Shopee, which allows users to buy products using its mobile app and have them delivered; and Native, where users book tours and buy tickets to attractions around the world, including Singapore, through its app and website.

This is the first time they are taking part in the bazaar, and their partnership with the event is in line with Singapore's move towards a Smart Nation.

“Every year, the organising committee strives to elevate the Chinatown CNY Celebrations with various new partnerships and initiatives,” said Mr Philemon Loh, head of publicity and marketing in this year’s event organising committee.

He added that this year's partnership with Shopee and Native is "to better attract visitors across the board", including the youth, elderly and local and foreign visitors.

The event's official opening ceremony and street light-up took place yesterday, and Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour.

Also at the event were Dr Lily Neo, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, and Mr Vincent Tan, chairman of the event's organising committee.

This year's celebrations feature a display of 2,688 beautifully handcrafted lanterns, with 180 expertly sculptured pig lanterns dotting the main streets of Chinatown.

Dr Neo said: "We hope this year's line-up of events will attract an even larger crowd to Chinatown and help promote the spirit of happiness and harmony in our rich tradition."

At the Shopee booth along Smith Street, visitors can learn first-hand how to shop on the app. Chinese New Year goodies will also be available for purchase on the app.

Native's booth at Kreta Ayer Square will allow tourists to get instant information about local tour options and book day tours to places such as Little India and around Chinatown.

Shopee's chief commercial officer Zhou Junjie said: "Chinese New Year shopping is traditionally an offline experience. By injecting a fresh digital element into the traditionally cash-and-carry environment of a street bazaar, we hope to introduce technology to digitalise and elevate the classic bazaar experience."

Mr Bryan Goh, 28, co-founder of Native, said its app has already seen hundreds of downloads. "We're getting huge exposure. I believe that in the coming days, there will be an uptake in bookings through our app."

At one of the booths selling New Year goodies at the bazaar is Mr Simon Tan, in his 30s, who sells Chinese New Year decorations.

He said: "Business was quite good on Saturday, as the weather was good. But it was very bad on Friday, when it rained for quite some time.

"Our newer items are these pinwheel decorations imported from Hong Kong. They are said to bring good luck to the owner."

The festive street bazaar will be on until Feb 4, while the street light-up will last until March 6.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2019, with the headline 'High-tech draw at traditional CNY street bazaar'. Print Edition | Subscribe