Online platforms take up booths at Chinatown Chinese New Year festive street bazaar

The Shopee booth is seen at the Chinatown Night Bazaar on Jan 20, 2019.
The Shopee booth is seen at the Chinatown Night Bazaar on Jan 20, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Shoppers heading down to the festive street bazaar for this year's Chinatown Chinese New Year celebrations can check out two interesting 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 their mobile app and have them delivered; and Native, which lets users book tours and buy tickets to attractions around the world, including Singapore, through their app and website.

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

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

"In 2018 , we had YouthEATS, a specially allocated area in the festive street bazaar for youths to sell cooked food, and YHFLEA, a flea market run by youths."

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

The event's official opening ceremony and street light-up took place on Sunday (Jan 20), and Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour.

Also at the event were Dr Lily Neo, MP for Jalan Besar GRC, and Mr Vincent Tan, chairman of the event's organising committee, as well as Singapore University of Technology and Design faculty and students, who took part in designing this year's street light-up.

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. Various Chinese New Year necessities and 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, around Chinatown and those curated according to various themes such as food and history.

Mr Loh said: "Both initiatives seek to create not only an immersive festive experience for our visitors but also an educational one."

Mr Zhou Junjie, Shopee's chief commercial officer, said: "CNY 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.

"We also hope to reach out to all Singaporeans, including the older generation who usually turn up at the bazaar in droves, and introduce them to Shopee and online shopping."

Mr Bryan Goh, 28, co-founder of Native, said that although its booth has been open at the event only since last Friday, its app has already seen hundreds of downloads.

He said: "We're getting huge exposure. I believe that in the coming days, there will be an uptake in bookings through our app."

While Native's booth mainly targets tourists, he said it also has something to offer Singaporeans.

"We sell tickets to attractions in about 80 cities, including places like Bangkok and Tokyo, which are destinations Singaporeans love to travel to."

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: "We started selling only on Friday, so it is too early to tell if this year's business is better or worse than last year's.

"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. I have not had the time to count how many pinwheel sticks I have sold so far."

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