Let him do your groceries

Think of him as the Uber-X of grocery shopping.

For a small delivery fee, he will take your grocery shopping list that you have specified online, visit the store, call you if the products are not available, and deliver on the same day.

Mr Achmad Sobirin Suhaimi, 31, is part of a new wave of service providers taking online shopping to a new level.

The former full-time construction safety officer used to squeeze in grocery deliveries before or after work to earn some extra bucks.

His clients were from start-up Market9, an online platform where customers can order their groceries from most major supermarkets under one site and have the items delivered to their doorstep within three hours.

Mr Achmad was paid $8 per grocery order and delivery he fulfilled.

Two months ago, Mr Achmad quit his construction job to go into grocery shopping full-time.

He started his own company, and today, earns $3,000 to $4,000 a month helping clients - both individuals and businesses - do their day-to-day chores such as dealing with couriers, and personal grocery shopping.

He thinks demand for personal grocery shoppers will "definitely grow and surpass my delivery business".

"There will always be demand for this," he said.

He noted that there are several such businesses in the US although it is still a novelty here.

He said: "Anyway, I like to shop. I do it for my family and it is a leisure activity for me. I don't mind doing it for others and it is fun."

The father of three children aged one, four and six owns a Suzuki Swift hatchback. He said: "I live near a supermarket too.

"I'm very fast as I'm familiar with the supermarket so everything is done in a jiffy. I shop there for my own groceries, so I know where the items are located."

For fewer than 10 items, he can shop and check-out within half an hour.

For more than 20 items, he needs about an hour or more, depending on the crowd in the store.

Busy hours

He is also familiar with the peak hours at supermarkets and chooses to shop during less busy hours to expedite his work.

"Even if I know an item is priced cheaper elsewhere, my instruction is to get the item from a particular supermarket," he said.

"If an item is not available, I'll inform the client. Based on experience, they usually ask for another brand or to drop the item."

He delivers the items immediately after paying for them and gets reimbursed for the them later.

He said: "I don't keep the items. Some of them are fresh items, such as butter."

Although customers have the option of shopping online from most major supermarkets, Mr Achmad thinks his service is still relevant.

He said: "Some customers may not be Internet-savvy. They like to speak to a person who can respond to them immediately, rather than sending e-mails and waiting for replies.

"They want the personal touch and someone to attend to them fast. They like the idea of someone shopping for them, where they put us on speed-dial to call anytime."

Despite being at his client's beck-and-call, Mr Achmad derives satisfaction from his work.

He said: "When people are so busy and I help them to shop, they have one less thing to do so they can have more family time with their kids."

This article was first published on October 19, 2015.
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