Forum: Digitalisation does not work for all hawker stalls and patrons, Forum News & Top Stories

Digitalisation may be a good initiative by the Government, but should not be pursued single-mindedly to apply to every area of life in society. Hawker food is one area. (Hawkers worry about costs of hopping onto online delivery platforms, June 7).

People patronise hawker centres for convenience, to save time and because hawker food can be enjoyed freshly cooked or piping hot, and is very affordable.

At hawker centres, only a few stalls see snaking long queues. These are the exceptional ones.

Online delivery platforms are not going to benefit most other hawkers whose customers go to them only to skip the queue at the more popular stalls, or for a quick meal, and not because the food is fantastic. Hence, not many people are willing to pay the extra cost for delivery of an average bowl of noodles or kaya toast.

Besides, not all food tastes good after a delivery time of 30 minutes or more. Char kway teow, fried carrot cake and oyster omelette, to name a few, are dishes that do not taste great when they are bought as takeaway or delivered, no matter how good the stall is.

The people who may not mind paying an extra $2 to $4 for delivery charges are mainly white-collar workers or those who are tech-savvy.

Blue-collar workers and the elderly, for example, who benefit the most from hawker food, will feel the pinch even if the delivery charge is an extra $1, as this will affect their budget.

In addition, having to navigate the delivery platform apps is bound to kill the appetite of many of the elderly.

Although help is available for hawkers to adopt food delivery services, they may not be sustainable because, over time, digital upgrades become necessary, and this would incur costs and delivery costs will also rise.

Unless hawkers are going to receive brisk businesses from online delivery platforms, digitalisation for many hawkers may not end up being that useful.

Grace Chua Siew Hwee

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