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    Loh Regular Member

    Oct 9, 2002
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    Singapore Also Can
    Live-streaming bargains: Online marketplace is the new wet market for seafood, poultry

    By Nabilah Awang

    Nuria Ling/TODAY
    Ms Joyce Leong, (left) who conducts live-streaming seafood auctions from the Ang Mo Kio store she works at, Freshcatch Seafoodbidding, owned by Madam Serene Leang (right).

    Published08 September, 2019
    Updated 08 September, 2019

    SINGAPORE — Ms Joyce Leong, 41 — or Sotong Joyce as she is better known — has become a minor celebrity in the increasingly popular world of online auctions for produce such as seafood and poultry.

    Ms Leong holds court on Facebook’s live-streaming service six mornings a week by setting up her smartphone over an ice bed stocked with the latest seafood catch at the Ang Mo Kio store, Freshcatch Seafoodbidding, where she works.
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    With hundreds of potential buyers online, one minute Ms Leong is cracking jokes about squid, the next she’s overseeing a fierce bidding battle for a lobster.

    With fewer people making the morning trip to wet markets, poultry and seafood sellers have taken to the online marketplace to sell their produce to a wider pool of potential customers.
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    The live auction trend is booming on Facebook, with sellers hawking items from fish to handbags — all from behind their phone or computer screens.

    Facebook users participate in the auctions by joining the live stream and bidding for items up auction by posting in the video’s comment section.

    It’s in this space that auctioneers will interact with viewers by greeting new “joiners”, answer questions about the product and so forth.

    Ms Joyce Leong live-streams a seafood auction six mornings a week, with hundreds of potential buyers online. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

    Madam Serene Leang, the owner of Freshcatch Seafoodbidding and Ms Leong’s employer, came up with the idea after she was introduced to Facebook live auctions through a friend who is active on the social platform.

    “I thought to myself: Since my family has been running this business for over 30 years, it’ll be a waste for people not to know about our offerings,” Mdm Leang said.

    So she set up her store’s page and suggested that Ms Leong conduct live auctions.

    Mdm Leang acknowledges that conducting live auctions in the morning might not be optimal as most people are at work but she has nevertheless built a customer base of young mothers.

    Meanwhile, Lian Huat Seafood employee of 10 years Kee Zhe Chong, also known as Max, starts his live auctions as late as 10pm — about the time fresh catch of the day reaches the fishery where he is stationed, at Jurong fishery port.

    The cheeky 36-year-old said he has an average of 300 viewers on a daily basis even though his live streaming auction starts late at night and usually ends around 1am.

    “I try to entertain them as much as I can … sometimes I tell them jokes about fishes and try to make them laugh,” said Mr Kee.


    Ms Leong said that being an auctioneer on Facebook is not as easy as people may imagine — there is more to it than meets the eye.

    She started off slowly with barely five viewers at her first live auction, as she was not sure how to engage people.

    But in the past year, Ms Leong has learnt the lingo auctioneers use, such as “LNS”, which is short for “like and share” and “+1” means customers want to add one portion of the item to their order.

    Mr Ryan Goh, who works at Seafood Boy, conducts Facebook live auctions every Friday from the stall he helms in Sengkang. He said he usually goes live for about three hours.

    “Talking for three hours is really no joke. People don’t realise how exhausting it is to conduct these auctions,” said the 34-year-old.

    Auctioneers use many tactics to build rapport with viewers, he said.

    Mr Goh shares his knowledge about the wild-caught fish he sells and gives out cooking tips to encourage buyers to make a bid.

    He also arranges payment and delivery which his company offers free of charge to those who make purchases above S$50.

    Ms Leong, who also offers free delivery for purchases above S$59, added that she reviews the video of the live auctions afterwards to make sure she noted every customer’s orders correctly.

    Mr Kee offers lucky draws to returning customers, especially those who like and share his live sessions.

    “I will put their names in the basket then pick one. The lucky guy will get whatever freebie we give out that day — maybe a set of prawns, scallops, a bottle of soy sauce or even coffee packets,” he chuckled.


    Asked why Facebook live has become such a phenomenon, the auctioneers said it combines two things Singaporeans love — online shopping and snaring a good bargain.

    They added that auctions can either make the item more expensive than the usual retail price or cheaper, if interest is not that high, a dynamic that makes the process all the more appealing to customers.

    Homemakers Ms Siti Afiqah Gunawan, 25, and Madam Chan Yen Ling, 51, said that the best part about live auctions is the thrill of striking a good bargain in front of hundreds of viewers.

    Mdm Chan started watching seafood live auctions after she was introduced by a friend. “I get interested when sellers post a ‘teaser’ of their catch of that day … after that I follow them and watch what they have that day,” said the mother of four.

    “They are usually very funny. They can talk and talk for hours and people will still watch them,” said Mdm Chan.

    Ms Afiqah, a mother of one who is a self-confessed live auction addict, said that even when she is not bidding, just watching people fighting over a product and outbidding each other is entertaining enough.

    She has bought items at less than half their regular price on Facebook live auctions. Recently, she scored baby clothing for less than S$10 when the retail price was S$60.

    “It’s all about having the fastest fingers,” she gushed before adding: “You get to shop and you get to laugh, this is probably why everyone is watching it.”

    #9661 Loh, Sep 8, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019

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