Struggling shopkeepers at HCM City traditional markets learn to sell online

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Traders at traditional markets in HCM City such as Bến Thành Market are learning how to sell online to survive the dwindling sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic. – Photo

HCM CITY – With traditional markets in HCM City struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more of their shop owners are looking to sell their goods on online channels such as delivery apps and social media.

According to the management of Bến Thành Market in District 1, most stalls except those selling fresh produce have few customers, especially handbag, clothing and handicraft shops.

Demand has dropped by 80 per cent compared to the same time last year, and around half the stalls remain closed.

An Đông Market in District 5 is suffering a 90 per cent drop despite a recent renovation that has greatly improved its appearance.

Nguyễn Thành Châu, head of the management of Thái Bình Market, said sales were down by half and some stalls that closed down had not even reopened for Tết.

Traders learn online selling

Traders in markets have been looking at selling online. Trương Thị Huệ, who sells clothes at An Đông Market, said for the past two months her daughter had been showing her how to use Facebook and Vietnamese social media Zalo to sell her products.

Nguyễn Thị Thái Trang, another clothes seller in the same market, said after she took part in an online Chợ Lớn Market fair last September, she was able to network with many businesses, including Co.opmart, which greatly benefited her business and her employees.

She has asked An Đông Market also to organise online market fairs.

Foodstuff, fruit and vegetable traders in Bến Thành Market are selling their products via delivery service Grabmart.

Dương Thị Thanh Thủy, a confectionery seller there, said while her family business had been relying on customers and tourists over the last 60 years, she now had to make use of technology.

According to Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Ánh, a bèo (water fern) cake seller in the market, doing business through food delivery service boosts her income by around 30 per cent helping it survive COVID-19.

Some traders said selling online had not been profitable so far since it was still new to them, but, nevertheless, these were new channels and in the long run could be more profitable.

Bến Thành Market is working with the District 1 Information Technology Centre to improve its website to help traders sell their goods online.

Trần Huy Cường, director of District 5’s Centre for Economic Development and Labour Supply Assistance, said the district had organised online fairs to help traders get used to using online channels. They were also being taught how to use social media to sell their goods, take photos and write about their products, he added.

According to Associate Professor Phạm Khánh Phong Lan, head of the city Food Safety Management Board, many Tết food items are being sold online, a low-cost method that limits close contact during the pandemic, but safety risks are involved since there are no checks.

While traders on large online platforms are monitored, small ones that operate on social media such as Facebook are not well monitored, and so customers should look for trustworthy sites to shop.

The city reduced shop rents in traditional markets by half for the last six months of 2020. – VNS

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