Hawkers Digitalise Amid Covid-19

Hawkers, and businesses who were previously opposed to digital transformation, have had to modify their attitudes in order to deal with the problems posed by the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Singapore’s food hawkers are among the most traditional enterprises, and they are notoriously adamant about clinging to their old traditions. But dwindling sales amid the pandemic and government restrictions have forced many hawkers to go digital.

The challenges of going digital

HawkerFoodDelivery.com was created to assist these food business operators in gaining access to internet platforms. The local company offers a hand-chosen list of prominent local hawker centres and food stalls, as well as ordering and delivery services to assist clients get food orders picked up and delivered to their homes.

Attempting to change the attitude of hawkers was a significant problem for HawkerFoodDelivery.com, said co-founder Peter Seow. In contrast to restaurants, which generally had a formal infrastructure in place such as a POS (points-of-sale) system and wait staff, hawkers frequently managed their company on their own.

According to Seow, the hawker is already taking up the role of a cook, order taker and cashier. Having to manage internet orders as well is a huge burden. He pointed to the various websites that had sprung up as a result of the epidemic to help boost sales for hawkers, noting that these small business owners, too, required assistance to deal with any rise in demand.

Furthermore, hawkers must be able to receive orders digitally, whether through an app like WhatsApp or an Android device. Whatever technology you give them, they must be ready and prepared to adapt. How much can you expect them to do as a one-man show? They must react to online consumer inquiries while also guaranteeing that the order is picked up by the delivery driver. It’s not going to be simple.

Government Support

Maintaining public health and safety is a major concern in these exceptional times. Government authorities have stepped in to ensure the adoption of the SGQR, an uniform e-payment system, to assist stallholders in reducing physical interaction with their consumers.

Enterprise Singapore (“ESG”) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) are collaborating with the Housing and Development Board (“HDB”), JTC Corporation (“JTC”), and the National Environment Agency (“NEA”) to increase the speed and exposure of the implementation of the Unified e-Payment Solution in hawker centres as well as canteens.

Hawkers will be incentivised to embrace a contactless payment option in this next phase of the program by displaying a distinctive SGQR sticker at their stand. Stallholders will be able to accept payments using almost 20 kinds of payment systems, including DBS PayLah!, GrabPay, and Singtel Dash, by using an SGQR.

To assist these business owners, NETS even offered a $3 cash incentive for every 10 transactions to all hawkers that accepted NETS payments until July 31, 2021.