Over 1,500 food items have been sold on the online Gadong night market (Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong – PPBG) from 12 vendors since the platform’s launch six days ago.
Pasarpbg.com was launched on May 4 in response to the closure of PPBG – home to approximately 150 vendors – on the first day of Ramadhan to prevent overcrowding during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Co-founder of Beep Digital Solutions Denny Muslim, whose startup is operating the platform, said that the sales volume was meeting expectations but acknowledged challenges in convincing more of the market’s vendors to sell online.
Beep currently levies a 3% charge on each vendor’s sale and accepts payment from customers in the form of online bank transfer, with debit and credit cards expected to be integrated soon.
“We have streamlined the process so that vendors will simply receive a text with confirmed orders (with a cut off time of 1.30pm) which they then prepare and drop off at PPBG,” said Denny.
“The customer then can pick up from 4pm to 5.30pm or have it delivered to their doorstep from 5pm to 6pm for a single delivery fee of $4.50.”
Pasarpbg.com’s ability to offer customers products from multiple vendors with a single collection point or a single delivery fee is relatively unique in Brunei’s booming food takeaway sector, which typically charges one delivery fee for each vendor the customer orders from.
Meanwhile long-time PPBG vendors C-Boboy Burger and Gerai Sri Bunka welcomed the setting up of an online channel for orders, after seeing their revenue drop by more than half since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Suzilawati Julahia – whose set up a makeshift C-Boboy stall with her family on her front porch in STKRJ Mata-Mata – said sales was already in decline before the market’s closure.
“We open up many channels to try and help us overcome (losses due to COVID-19); we rent out a stall in Madewa, do deliveries/meet points, pick ups (from home) and online (on pasarpbg.com) but we are still seeing a loss of about 50%,” said Suzilawati, whose food stall is best known for their roti john sandwiches.
Gerai Sri Bunka said with online orders they are able to avoid wastage. “We have receive (upwards of) 40 orders a day (through pasarpbg.com),” said Hjh Siti Khadijah Hj Zulkarnain whose family has rented a food truck to operate at the HB National Stadium for Ramadhan.
Her father added that they look to continue being on the platform after Ramadhan, as well as Beep’s proposal to enable the vendors to accept Alipay from tourists when travel restrictions are lifted.