SINGAPORE — As more food and beverage businesses here work towards getting halal certification, a bold new enterprise in the online sphere is looking to leverage on the seemingly untapped market of consumers and businesses interested in halal certified products, coupled with a keen focus on premium products that do not require halal certification.

At the official opening of its Singapore office this month, the Aladdin Group, helmed by Malaysia’s first astronaut Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie, announced that its Singapore partner will be the world’s first premium quality products and halal e-marketplace when it launches at the end of the year. Catering to both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets, Aladdin Street Singapore (http://www.aladdinstreet.com.sg) is one of the companies in 29 other countries the Group has since entered into joint ventures with. The network covers a global population footprint of approximately four billion consumers, across countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and America.

The announcement comes after the launch of its domestic site in Malaysia, which boasts more than 10,000 premium quality products, in April.

Aladdin Street Singapore co-founder and president Dr Grace Kong said Singapore’s excellent business environment and infrastructure will help the Group be one of the world’s most profitable e-commerce platforms. This plan includes a S$2 million investment by Aladdin Street Singapore to support the country’s efforts to strengthened the brand.

But unlike its Malaysian partner, the Singapore platform will not have a decidedly large offering of food items, said Andy Yun, chief marketing officer of Aladdin Street Singapore. Instead, it will offer a variety of products, from fashion to furniture to food, while keeping its focus on supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including companies that are ready for a more global market.

He pointed out the significant advantages of investing in e-commerce in such a challenging economic climate, particularly for Singapore’s retail sector. “It would be an additional channel of sales for them,” Yun said, while highlighting the difficulty in finding a logistic provider and payment gateway. “Which bank or payment gateway will take you if you are a small player? But we are a group of 30 countries and that is why our payment gateway is UOB (United Overseas Bank).”

For a start, the company hopes to launch its Singapore portal with a line-up of at least 50 merchants. “We’ve only just started recruiting (and) these companies have to fit our positioning,” said Yun, which he explained is to be “the first premium quality products and halal e-marketplace”.

As such, the site will focus on halal premium quality products and services, and those that do not require halal certification, such as products by local fashion and furniture designers.

“When you go to Aladdin.com.sg, it won’t be like HipVan, where there will be a lot of items. We have less items but more premium and unique (ones),” said Yun, who added that there will also be a select group of trusted food brands that could include Sam Goi’s Tee Yih Jia Foods.

More Halal services

Speaking of leveraging on the connectivity and convenience the Internet affords, The Halal Dining Club website (http://halaldiningclub.com/) is billed as a one-stop solution for diners looking to discover, book and review halal restaurants. And last month, it simultaneously launched an app in Singapore and London to provide consumers even better access to the growing plethora of suitable dining options in both cities.

“You would think finding a place to dine out would be easy, but for the 427 million Muslims living in non-Muslim countries it is not,” said Siddika Jaffer, the Muslim entrepreneur behind the launch of The Halal Dining Club. “Our research shows that halal diners typically have to spend up to 90 minutes to find and book a suitable place, and this involves trawling multiple websites, blog and reviews; messaging friends and calling the restaurant itself,” she added.

In an exclusive partnership with online restaurant reservation service Quandoo, the app, which is available free from the Apple App Store, is targeted at the fast-growing and relatively underserved global halal food market, which The Halal Dining Club estimates to be worth US$2.6 trillion (S$3.5 trillion) by 2020.

This will also include more business-to-business prospects, which Yun said is an area Aladdin Street Singapore is particularly keen to explore.

He elaborated on how the local platform will also help many halal-certified restaurants and caterers, by “providing extra channels of sales and promoting their brand and food on a premium platform”.

Quayside Quality Food, he said, was one of the first to come on board. “(Its) prices are probably 15 per cent higher than the standard market rate, but it is premium stuff and that’s what we want.”

 

Originally published on www.todayonline.com

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