Home delivery of obscure products: From baby food to kelong seafood

Home delivery of obscure products: From baby food to kelong seafood

Companies here say it's worth investing in delivery services, despite some drawbacks

Many businesses, even traditional fish farms, are raising their game by offering delivery options.

It's a strategy that is happening worldwide. In the US, coffee chain Starbucks recently announced they would start a delivery option.

Locally, many businesses too are vying for a slice of the market.

Foodpanda and its affiliated brands, hellofood and Delivery Club, have recorded five million downloads of its native mobile applications since the first app was released last year.

Companies The New Paper on Sunday spoke to highlighted different reasons for providing online ordering and delivery services.

Petit Bowl, which provides preservative-free baby food, invested about $20,000 in e-commerce infrastructure in 2011 after it moved out of its mall space.

Besides streamlining its operations, its founder Josephine Koh, 37, says delivery services cut waiting time for customers.

"Nobody buys a few flavours each time. They usually buy a variety, so the packing time keeps customers waiting," she says.

Delivery service also ensures that the frozen chain is not disrupted and thus ensures food safety, especially when customers do not head home immediately after buying its products, she adds.

Pizza chain Spizza, which introduced online ordering in April 2012 and launched its mobile app a year later, has seen a "significant increase" in its orders, says its spokesman.

These services were added as "another alternative to customers who prefer the use of their smartphones and laptops" and to cater to customers who are on-the-go, she adds.

Local fish farm Ah Hua Kelong started offering a home delivery service in May this year.

Mr Bryan Ang, 25, its creative and marketing manager, says they want to open up "multiple marketing channels".

He says: "Initially, we sold to Hong Kong ships that come on a regular basis. But we are at their mercy. If they don't come, the fish will overgrow and it will be harder for us to sell them.

"We also want to have a higher turnover of fish so that we can maintain the size of the fish."

Sales has been incremental. "At least we are going somewhere," he says.

But there are downsides too.

The fish farm says there's a limit to how much they can deliver as it prefers to make the deliveries personally or rely on only experienced seafood handlers.

"Besides delivering the fish, we also want our customers to enjoy the experience. We guide them on how to store the fish and how to cook the fish properly," says its business development manager, Mr Wong Jing Kai, 25.

Another local farm, Hay Dairies, which produces fresh goat milk and has been delivering them to households for over 20 years, found that it could no longer cope with the logistics.

Instead of expanding its home delivery service, it has scaled back and stopped delivering to certain locations.

Its operations manager, Mr Leon Hay, 36, says: "After some of our drivers retired - two due to health issues and one due to the children's request - we have had a hard time looking for drivers.

"Whether young or old, they couldn't do it. They gave up after working for half a day."

He says this is because there's a time constraint when dealing with fresh produce.

But he has overcome it by partnering retailers, such as local supermarket chain Prime Supermarket.

Another downside is also the possibility of getting bogus orders.

Spizza, which receives about one of such orders in a few months, says that the delivery person would realise that the order is fake only when he arrives at the doorstep.

"There was one bogus order in which the customer hurled vulgarities at our rider. However, the rider was very professional and managed to calm the customer down," says its spokesman.

While there's no verification process for small orders, customers are required to call the hotline and provide their credit card details for orders of $200 and above, she says.

She adds: "For small bogus orders, the food will be sent back to the outlet and thrown away."

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