New site allows online shoppers to buy exclusively from Singaporean businesses and sellers

PHOTO: Screengrab / buylocal.sg

No doubt, all businesses have been majorly impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic. It might be even direr for local business operators, most of whom run their enterprises independently through various e-commerce platforms amid the heightened social distancing measures. 

Instead of rummaging through various websites, an initiative started by five local college students is encouraging Singaporeans to support businesses run by fellow countrymen. After crafting lines of code, the fruit of their labour is something called buylocal.sg, a cross-platform search aggregator that pulls in results from only local sellers. 

The website is the first of its kind, the team declared. Buylocal.sg allows buyers to search across Carousell, Shopee and Qoo10 for items sold by Singaporean businesses, ensuring maximum visibility for struggling local sellers during a time when they need it the most. 

Let’s say you need a new mug after your kid just smashed your favourite one. You could always go to Amazon or AliExpress to get one… or you could choose to help out fellow Singaporeans by purchasing from them directly. It could be a used one from a Carousell seller or a brand new thermal mug from a local merchant on Shopee. 

What the website does is basically collate all local product listings and put them in one place for easier discovery — the actual purchasing will have to be done on the respective e-commerce platform itself. 

Screengrab / Buylocal.sg

Raphael Yee, the project’s team lead and co-founder of local meme page Memedef, told AsiaOne that the site was built within a week after scraping data from the three platforms with an abundance of local sellers. It was an independent initiative too as the team carried out the project without reaching out to Carousell, Shopee and Qoo10, while server costs are being borne through their own personal savings. 

The origin story here is that the project members wanted to build a way to support local businesses and sellers — they realised that there was no readily available method to find results from local vendors while shopping online. 

Despite its name, BuyLocal.sg is not just about the pursuit of patriotic consumerism. The website features a “Give” section that displays items being given away for free to those in need. It’s a good way to clear unwanted stuff from the house and let someone else use them without contributing to the nation’s trash bins. 

Screengrab / Buylocal.sg

“We’re trying to extend the act of neighbourliness nationwide — choose to give the items you don’t need and give a new beginning to those who do,” Yee mentioned. 

Adding to the whole positive vibes of the initiative is a scrolling roulette of supportive messages by fellow Singaporean personalities and social media pages, including comedian Preetipls, The Sam Willows’ Jon Chua and cartoonist Highnunchicken among many others.

Screengrab / Buylocal.sg

Since the launch yesterday (May 13), the team has seen hundreds of users coming to the site, while a number of sellers have gotten in touch with them too, Yee told AsiaOne. 

“We created this platform to make it easy for anyone to support struggling local sellers — because during this time, they are the ones who need it the most.”

ilyas@asiaone.com

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