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."

Next page: The products

Health, beauty and personal products

GUARDIAN

Delivery: Islandwide

Order: Online at www.guardian.com.sg

Minimum order: None

Delivery fees: $8 for orders below $20. Free for orders above $20

This is handy if you want to buy certain products. You know, the ones you may not want to be seen holding in the queue. For example, relief from constipation is just a click away.

You can now have non-prescription medicine such as Dulcolax Contact Laxative (left, $29.00 for 200 tablets) sent directly to you. There are also basics like paracetamol for fever and pain relief.

And if you don't want people to see that you are concerned about the lines on your face or that you are losing it on top, you can also get products like Rodial Glamoxy Snake Serum ($239 for 25ml) or Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo ($12.90 for 250ml).

For prescription medicines, you will still have to visit the stores.

Meals for babies

PETIT BOWL

Delivery: Islandwide (except Pulau Ubin, military areas, Sentosa and Jurong Island)

Order: Online at store.petitbowl.com

Minimum order: None

Delivery fees: $13 per standard delivery to one destination, free delivery for purchases above $220 in a single order.

Feeding a growing baby or a hungry toddler is no mean feat, especially if you're trying to ensure the picky eaters have a balanced diet.

Each meal at Petit Bowl is created preservative-free and immediately frozen after cooking to preserve its freshness.

There are over 100 different flavours, designed for babies from the age of four months to six years.

There are basic flavours like Apple. But you may want to try giving your fussy toddler Cod Fish, Spinach & Pasta ($8 for 170g) or the more exotic Thai Tom Yum Vermicelli ($7 for 170g).

The price is higher than those of brand-name baby food in the supermarket, so it really depends on how much you want to indulge Junior.

Army supplies

HOCK GIFT SHOP

Delivery: Islandwide except military camps, Jurong Island and Sentosa

Order: Online at www.hockgiftshop.com

Minimum order: None

Delivery fees: Dependent on weight since shipping is via SingPost. $10 for items weighing between 1.5kg and 2kg. Orders above 2kg are delivered personally

Located just outside Nee Soon Camp, this retailer has been selling army and camping products since 1981.

It has been selling its goods to camping enthusiasts online via its website since May 2010.

It offers options for glamping (glam camping), such as the Safari Camping Bed ($45) and Swiss Army knives like the Victorinox CyberTool 34 ($165.90), which even features tools for computer repair.

National service recruits can also get gear to tide them through their NS. The site supplies checklists for Basic Military Training, field camp and jungle survival.

The downside is that you have to plan your purchases as they will only reach you in three or four days. So don't leave it to the last minute.

Next page: Fresh produce

Fresh local produce

AH HUA KELONG

Delivery: Islandwide

Order: SMS 8655-3074 or online at ahhuakelong.com

Minimum order: None

Delivery fees: Free delivery for purchases above $40

From the sea to your doorstep within 12 hours. That's what Ah Hua Kelong's creative and marketing manager Bryan Ang, 25, says it provides.

The fish farm, located near Changi, specialises in farming grouper, seabass and golden pomfret. It also harvests flower crabs and large green mussels.

When your items arrive, strike up a conversation with the delivery person. Chances are, he will be able to recommend you the best fish to buy and even impart some cooking tips.

HAY DAIRIES

Delivery: Selected locations

Order: Call 6792-0931 or online at www.haydairies.com.sg

Minimum order: 1.6 litres

Delivery fees: None

For over 20 years, this dairy farm has been delivering fresh goat milk directly to homes.

It is a niche market but perfect for those who are lactose-intolerant.

While UHT goat milk in cartons and powder form are available at supermarkets, Hay Dairies' operations manager Leon Hay says milk from his farm is free from preservatives.

But with only select delivery locations, this option won't work for everyone.

You can get a dollar off the usual price of $9 for an 800ml bottle if you pick it up directly from the farm at Lim Chu Kang.

JURONG FROG FARM

Delivery: Islandwide

Order: Call 6791-7229 or SMS 9763-9077 from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5.30pm, or e-mail sales@jurongfrogfarm.com.sg

Minimum order: $75

Delivery fees: $15 for delivery to CBD, $10 for same day delivery

If you are looking for a fix of frog leg porridge, a visit to this site can provide you with locally farmed frog meat.

For those who believe in the unusual restoratives or are a touch more adventurous, the frog farm also supplies locally produced and packaged crocodile bones, which are apparently good for chronic coughs.

If you are not particularly squeamish, there is hashima, which is the more exotic name for a frog's fallopian tubes. Available as a pack-of-four concentrate ($29.90) or in dried form under the even more delightful name of Snow Jelly ($19.50).

While it is well known that pizza, pet food, books and groceries are just a phone call away, CHAI HUNG YIN (chaihyn@sph.com.sg) sniffs out some more obscure products that can be sent to your home

chaihyn@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 09, 2014.
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