Bazaars and Tiangge in Philippine Retail

Bazaars in Philippine retail

We are all familiar with the ‘bazaar / tiangge’ phenomenon in Philippine retail. Especially during the holiday season, bazaars are part and parcel of the Filipino shopping experience. Growing up in the 90’s, a trip to Greenhills’ tiangge and night market was always part of my family’s shopping itinerary, particularly when looking for good bargains for bulk purchases. Many villages and subdivisions had also sought to capitalize on the bazaar experience by offering weekend tiangge events at the clubhouse to capture a more targeted market. Even college organizations organized bazaars with the objective of raising funds for their projects, and to provide an avenue for selling for college students. For many start-up and small entrepreneurs of my generation, participating in bazaars could most likely have been the best way to introduce our creative concoctions to the market.

The rise of e-commerce and its impact on local retail

The emergence of e-commerce and social media paved the way for more budding entrepreneurs to find an avenue to introduce, sell, and market their wares. With one click of a button, one can easily sell their products to customers living anywhere in the world. Young start-ups no longer had to spend 10- to 12- hour days manning their booths at a bazaar, and having to spend for delivery, logistics, and visual marketing materials to spruce up their booths. The same way that online retail provide customers ample selection of merchandise and convenience of delivery, sellers also enjoy the opportunity to sell to a more diverse market and the convenience of not having to spend time and money on setting up a bazaar space. In my opinion, perhaps one of internet’s greatest contributions to mankind was to pave the way for an explosive growth in entrepreneurship among the younger generations. The availability of online retail has made it possible for virtually anybody with access to the internet to create, produce, sell, and market their goods and services, all at the comfort of their own homes.

Thoughts on Bazaars and Pop-Up Stores

So why are bazaars still existing? What incentive do we have to brave Manila traffic and spend a couple of our productive waking hours visiting a bazaar?

Interestingly enough, entrepreneurs who first launched their products online have now started to find offline spaces to sell their products. Despite the convenience of the internet, online retailers contend that many customers still prefer to ‘experience’ the product or brand that they intend to purchase. Online fashion retailers need to have customers fit / try on their products. Online food retailers want customers to taste their delicacies. And even online furniture and specialty goods retailers want customers to touch, feel, and properly visualize the items they are selling.

Smaller online retailers who want to avoid high capital expenditures for building a brick-and-mortar store contend that opening a bazaar stall (or the more fashionable term ‘pop-up store’) is a good strategic alternative. Bazaars and pop-up stores allow for flexibility in lease terms for retailers, as they can opt to stay for only weeks or months on end — potentially avoiding situations where retailers need to keep bleeding just to stick to their 3-year lease terms. Similarly, pop-up stores speak to a more targeted clientele as it allows retailers to choose the specific demographic or geographic location to set up shop. Most likely, the locations they choose reflect the customer and purchase information coming from their data analytics. Furthermore, bazaar / pop-up stores abroad have also acted as pick-up points for online purchases. Customers purchase online and have the option to pick-up the item at the pop-up store. Once in the store, retailers can now ‘upsell’ to the customer through their sales associates.

This year I have seen how many local shopping malls have started to embrace the concept of ‘pop-up stores’. Besides kiosks and carts, several malls have opened ‘bazaar’-type pop-up stores where several small stalls are housed in one lease space. Other malls have tapped the usual big-name brands to open pop-up locations as more of a marketing and advertising tool to highlight a specific campaign for their brands.

In conclusion, my advice to aspiring retailers would be to launch their products on both online and offline spaces. While online retail is less costly and quicker to implement, nothing beats having customers experience your products first hand.