Singapore

New workgroup to help hawkers digitalise and boost sustainability

Hawkers, food delivery players and other stakeholders from the industry or community can weigh in on how hawkers can digitalise and boost business sustainability in a workgroup the Government plans to convene.

Discussions will focus on concerns hawkers face and ways that they may be incentivised to tap food delivery platforms.

The workgroup will be chaired by the Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.

Some of these concerns include the lack of tech savviness, the high commission rate of food delivery platforms, and the difficulties of managing both online and offline food orders at the same time, said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, yesterday.

She was speaking to reporters during a visit to Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre with Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development Tan Kiat How.

Dr Khor said around half of Singapore's 6,000-plus cooked food stallholders have already tapped food delivery platforms and online ordering services.

More than 1,300 hawkers have benefited from a $500 one-time funding from the National Environment Agency last year to help them tap food delivery platforms. Among them, 500 of the hawkers were aged 60 and above, she said.

She noted that one platform, WhyQ, which will participate in the workgroup, has employed captains in hawker centres to coordinate orders and food deliveries. This can help less digitally savvy hawkers.

Sixty of the 83 cooked food stalls at Tiong Bahru Food Centre are on WhyQ, while some of the others are on other platforms, she said.

Mr Tan said many hawkers are worried about the lasting effects of digitalisation on their current business model, an area which the workgroup aims to tackle. More details on the launch of the workgroup will be announced at a later date.

WhyQ co-founder Rishabh Singhvi told The Straits Times it now has 3,500 stall owners from 70 hawker centres on its platform - double that of pre-pandemic times.

He added that demand for hawker food deliveries have also increased by 25 per cent amid this period of heightened alert.

Acknowledging that profit margins for hawkers are thin, Mr Singhvi said WhyQ levies a commission fee on the end-consumer instead of the hawker, so that hawkers' earnings via the platform are the same as when they serve a walk-in customer.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES

Food & Drink