Digitalization at Saigon's oldest market

Many traders at HCM City's Ben Thanh Market have started to sell online as the number of customers has sharply decreased due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Số hoá ở ngôi chợ lâu đời nhất Sài Gòn

Many stalls in Ben Thanh market are closed. (Photo: Hai Dang)

According to a trader, Ben Thanh Market has about 1,400 stalls. However, because of Covid-19, the market lost a lot of foreign tourists and overseas Vietnamese customers. As a result, half of the stalls have closed in the past months. As demands rise when Tet nears, some traders reopened their stalls and about 20 traders moved their shops online.

"Ben Thanh Market mostly serves high-income customers and foreign tourists so it has various kinds of high-quality products. There are some things that you can only find at Ben Thanh," Oanh, a trader who has been working at Ben Thanh Market for nearly 30 years said.

Tran, who has been selling candies and jams at the market for nearly 30 years, said this was the hardest time as the market was so empty. More stalls may be closed after Tet. "We have not seen many regular customers this time, only a few retail customers and wholesale customers," she said.

Chan, another trader said in order to find more customers, she and several other traders opened online shops. She receives four to five orders each day via shopping apps. An employee was sent to the market to collect goods and bring them to the shipper waiting outside.

Số hoá ở ngôi chợ lâu đời nhất Sài Gòn

Tran, who has been selling candies and jams at the market for nearly 30 years, said this was the hardest time as the market was so empty. Photo: Hai Dang

"I've started selling online over a month ago and only uploaded the pictures of a few of my goods so I don't have too many customers yet. I'll upload more products to attract more customers," she said.

Oanh also said she had only received small orders online. Most of her income is from restaurants and wholesale customers. She often receives four to five orders a day. During peak times, she would receive 11 orders.

 

"I think the customers are also only trying out, seeing how buying traditional products via mobile apps is like," she said.

Nguyen Thai Van, director of Grab Vietnam, said by bringing traditional markets online, traders will be able to find more customers while the customers will have more options to choose from. There are some difficulties with several traders who didn't know how to use mobile apps smoothly enough, and how to deal with return goods.

Many traders in other markets like Hoa Hung, Ba Chieu, Tan My and Tan Binh markets have also moved online. The traders in Thanh Cong, Ngoc Khanh, Huu Tiep, Linh Lang, Cong Vi and Buoi markets in Hanoi and the traders in Han and Con markets in Danang have started selling online. The aim is to move at least 20 stalls of each market online.

Many firms have shown interest in Vietnam’s traditional markets which are worth an estimated $10 billion.

Hai Dang

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