Singapore Budget 2020: Merchants' association in Chong Pang takes heartland shops online

Mr Jon Lee, head marketing and business development strategist of Chong Pang City Merchant and Hawker's Association, surfing e-marketplace TheLocalMart at Chong Pang Market.
Mr Jon Lee, head marketing and business development strategist of Chong Pang City Merchant and Hawker's Association, surfing e-marketplace TheLocalMart at Chong Pang Market.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - The heartland shops in Chong Pang City, a neighbourhood centre in Yishun, might seem like traditional ones. But they have also gone digital, selling their products in an online marketplace, thanks to the Chong Pang City Merchant and Hawker's Association.

Such merchant associations came under the spotlight during the Budget speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 18) as organisations that play a critical role in upgrading these heartland enterprises.

The e-marketplace for Chong Pang, which was launched in June last year, now has 29 retailers on board, across trades such as home appliances, optical products, furniture, and fruit and vegetables.

Another 15 are on the back-end, to be gradually brought on board.

The association's head marketing and business development strategist, Mr Jon Lee, said: "This project has helped to introduce e-commerce and social media, namely Facebook and Instagram, to the retailers as more than 80 per cent of them have no prior knowledge of such platforms and how these can effectively help their business in the current digital era."

He added that these businesses have received constant inquiries through Facebook and even received orders from overseas consumers.

Mr Lee said: "The merchants on our e-marketplace see the site and their social media pages as something complementary to their brick-and-mortar operations for now, where it helps to gather more awareness and publicity for their businesses.

"They are gradually increasing their pace in learning how to handle their accounts more and finding ways to market an increased variety of products."