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Pandemic-battered wet markets survive by going digital

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, April 20, 2021  /  10:00 am
Pandemic-battered wet markets survive by going digital

Sabilulungan Cicalengka Healthy Market. (Courtesy of Tribun/.)

In an increasingly digital world, traveling to a traditional market to shop may soon be a thing of the past. Just a few clicks away on your phone, and your weekly list of proteins and vegetables can be delivered to your doorstep.

Especially during the pandemic, the digitalization of traditional markets is the way forward. As public spaces, markets have the potential to become virus-spreading locations - this is where digital markets can thrive as a worry-free space in which to shop.

Not only for customers, sellers can also thrive in digital marketplaces alongside traditional markets, providing additional income and breathing new life into the pandemic-battered economy.

This can best be seen in the Pasar Sehat Sabilulungan Cicalengka (Sabilulungan Cicalengka Healthy Market) in Bandung, West Java.

As quoted in, Pasar Raja Cicalengka co-operative assistant manager Ridzky Alfaridzi said that the pandemic was the market sellers’ worst nightmare come to life, especially since July last year.

“The pandemic’s effects were most apparent from July to August, when sellers were affected by the opening hour limitations as well as the general public’s reluctance to visit the market,” he said by phone.

Since August, the general public’s daily market visits to Pasar Raja Cicalengka slowly dwindled to once every two to three days.

All that changed in November, when the Tokopedia- supported Pasar Sehat Sibilulungan Cicalengka went live. Customers can now purchase their daily needs from a marketplace accessible from their phones, which in turn has provided the drive for sellers to continue their businesses.

Shop the future: The Pasar Sehat Sabilulungan Cicalengka online market was born out of the changing societal habits caused by the pandemic.Shop the future: The Pasar Sehat Sabilulungan Cicalengka online market was born out of the changing societal habits caused by the pandemic. (./.)

The digital market’s presence, along with the market’s increasing operational activities over time, have become a renewed hope in 2021.

Even today, the market’s administrators tirelessly campaign on the benefits of digital adoption. Nearly 300 traditional retailerssellers have joined the online Pasar Sehat Sabilulungan Cicalengka.

Even when they sellers have the same items in stock, the administrators will market them in turns, while at the same time applying strict quality control over the items sent to customers.

“Our policy is that we can provide fresh products for orders made before noon, as things like beef and chicken are freshly cut every day. Orders made after noon will be processed the next day,” Alfaridzi explained.

Sellers are informed of the online market when they pay their fees at the co-operative. The administrators also provide them with information on how to market their products online - just visit the office with their list of products, photos, and prices.

For the general public, sellers are instructed to spread the word by mouth alongside the market and the regional government’s technical management unit’s (UPTD) announcements.

“So far, not many Cicalengka locals are aware of the marketplace, but it’s surprisingly popular outside. Cicalengka locals might prefer going to the market directly, but we have many orders from outside, and even a few repeat customers from Cimanggung, Sumedang regency,” he said.

The choice of Tokopedia as the partner for the marketplace was not without reason. Prior to the collaboration, Alfaridzi researched other markets partnering with Tokopedia, such as the Cikurubuk Market that can be considered a success.

After joining Tokopedia in November, sales have steadily increased. The account now books around 100 to 200 orders per month, up from around 50 to 100. The rise in orders also translates to more revenue for the sellers.

“From the sellers’ perspective, there’s even more benefits. Take goats as an example - they usually sell one or two heads per day, while goat feet average around a kilogram per day. Since joining Tokopedia, we can sell up to four heads and 2.5 kilograms of goat feet,” he said.

Not only that, the collaboration has also doubled the co-operative’s profits, from 10-15 percent to 30 percent.

To increase sales, the administrators have made use of Tokopedia’s features like TopAds, Free Delivery Vouchers, and Cashbacks. As of this writing, more than 1,800 products have been sold through the Pasar Sehat Sabilulungan Cicalengka Online account.

Alfaridzi and the administrators hope that the online market can continue to grow and increase its sales.

“It’s also to revive the economy, especially for the sellers.”

As well as the digitalization of wet markets, online sales through digital marketplaces have been increasingly adopted by micro, small and medium enterprises to survive, revive and grow during the pandemic.

Research by the School of Economics and Business at the University of Indonesia’s Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM FEB UI) showed that during the pandemic, 90 percent of Tokopedia’s sellers have been micro-sellers, with 68.6 percent of those that joined during the pandemic being the breadwinners for their families.

As of February 2021, listed sellers oin Tokopedia reached over 10 million, compared with 7.2 million in January 2020. The number of customers also increased in the same period, from 90 million to over 100 million as of today.

The rise of users has also brought positive changes to the volume of sales. Seven out of 10 sellers have booked an increase of 133 percent in sales volume, while 76.4 percent said that the ease of business management was their main reason for joining Tokopedia.