Author’s Blurb: I’ve never been the type of person to frequently go to artisan bazaars or similar, since they’re just not my scene. But from the few times I’ve been, I’ve noticed that there is always a variety of lesser-known sellers who benefit from the foot traffic. With the MCO now in place, how are physical bazaars doing?
The Cyberjaya Farmers Market is a producer entrepreneur-run organisation that features over 100 entrepreneurs of a community market within an area of 50 kilometres from Cyberjaya.
They held their first market at the Cyberview Solar Car Park, but now they’ve expanded to 2 new locations, Rekascape and Tamarind Square.
What you’ll find at the market is local food, artisan goods, handmade goods, and organic and fresh produce. Sometimes they’ll even have buskers, musicians, artists, and special activities.
“About 40% of the entrepreneurs are fully self-employed bakers/artisans/garden plant producers, the rest of the entrepreneurs are those who have full-time jobs but are really passionate about what they produce,” its founder Athirah told Vulcan Post.
Some of the part-time entrepreneurs eventually grow their client base enough to make the jump to work on their passion full-time.
Eventually a few entrepreneurs also ‘graduate’ from Cyberjaya Farmers Market to open outlets of their own.
A Turning Point
On normal days, Cyberjaya Farmers Market is open on the first and third Saturdays of the month at Rekascape from 8AM to 1PM, and on the second and last Sundays at Tamarind Square from 9AM to 2PM.
However, with the MCO and ban on gatherings in place, they’ve lost the only means and place to sell their goods, which also meant losing their connection to customers.
Full-time entrepreneurs incapable of opening a traditional stall were suffering from a loss of income, and the need to continue their business’ survival had made some of them turn to delivery, which caused an increase in their cost of production.
“For the others, it is a forlorn attempt to deliver the goods themselves in order to keep costs low while keeping their customer’s interest in their products intact,” Athirah said.
The MCO then presented a turning point for Cyberjaya Farmers Market to pivot into an online platform, something which they had always wanted to do but couldn’t before due to costs. Now there just wasn’t any choice left.
Not many of their sellers are tech-savvy enough to set up their own online store and sign up to a branded delivery service, so this is where Cyberjaya Farmers Market offers them an advantage as well.
One main thing that sets apart this online bazaar from regular ecommerce operations is its method of fulfilment.
“Within our online bazaar, we encourage our sellers to hold a group sale. Group sales basically means ordering can be done via our website 24/7 but will only be fulfilled every Wednesday and Saturday between 2PM to 6PM by appointed runners,” Athirah shared.
Buyers can pool different orders from multiple entrepreneurs and since the deliveries are done in one go, this helps keep delivery fees low, which benefits both customers and entrepreneurs.
“The online bazaar also forces our entrepreneurs to delve deeper into promotional terms. Many of our entrepreneurs are not familiar with promotional terms such as purchase with purchase, gift with purchase and so forth, we at the committee of Cyberjaya Farmers Market are coaching our entrepreneurs to onboard these kinds of promotions,” Athirah added.
A Continuing Effort
The online bazaar was made possible in 3 days with the help and support of two partnerships, with Cyberview Sdn Bhd providing a space for the sellers to distribute, and the Internet Alliance Association for affordable access to an ecommerce platform and payment gateways.
To date, they’ve received over 12,600 pageviews since launching the website on April 5, and they’re working to onboard more entrepreneurs.
When the MCO hit, a few founders also got together to see how they could complement and support each other with their excess capacity due to the MCO limitations either halting or lowering their sales take-up.
This was how GoCar got involved, by enabling anyone who had lost their jobs due to closed restaurants and service outlets to take a part time job helping Cyberjaya Farmers Market’s entrepreneurs fulfill deliveries.
Athirah was confident that they would continue the online bazaar even after the MCO.
“Because the offerings of Cyberjaya Farmers Market are premium and uniquely from artisans, it is often that the products are sold out even before the end of the market day,” she shared.
“With the online bazaar, customers have the choice to pre-order for pick up when they come and enjoy the market, or they can have them delivered to their homes on other days after the market closes.”
Bottom Line: Online bazaars are now becoming a thing thanks to the MCO, and while I have not participated in any of them myself, I believe I’d have to check them out just for the novelty of it. I think I’d still prefer to buy things in person, but when a bazaar normally has a trusted reputation, I’d be more inclined to also trust their online bazaar.