Online grocers step up their game

Delivery platforms are peddling exclusive brands, special services such as coffee bean grinding and promotions to snag a bigger share of the expanding pie

The online grocery scene here is headed for the fast lane, with food delivery platform Foodpanda being the latest to jump onto the bandwagon.

There are now no fewer than 20 online grocers battling for the consumer dollar in the bustling e-commerce market.

Online platforms range from those of the major supermarket chains to smaller niche grocers that specialise in fresh food or premium produce from countries such as Japan and France.

Businesses are reporting brisk sales that have been increasing year on year.

EAMart has seen a fourfold jump in sales since it launched in 2017, says chief executive Calvin Lee. Smaller speciality outfits like four-year-old fresh food grocer MarketFresh note growth of 3 to 5 per cent.

Since e-commerce site Lazada, owned by Chinese conglomerate Alibaba, moved RedMart to its platform seven months ago, the percentage of customers in Singapore who shop across both portals has doubled, says a Lazada Singapore spokesman.

Ms Kalpanadevi Vibin, founder of Indian grocer Pushcart, says the business' customer base has grown by 10 to 15 per cent year on year.

With so many players fighting for a share of the pie, how do they stand out from the crowd?

It is no longer enough to offer generic household items or common groceries.


Instead, online grocers are peddling exclusive brands, special services such as clothes ironing or coffee bean grinding, and promotions galore.

Shoppers can expect 11.11 sales tomorrow and pre-Christmas offerings.

Product variety aside, the user experience needs to be as simple, quick and convenient as possible.

RedMart - which marked its eighth anniversary last month - has rolled out new and improved features for the site. These include offering delivery as early as 7am the next day if your order is placed by 10pm, as well as a function to sort search results by the amount of savings available.

Deliveries will be even faster via the soon-to-launch Cold Storage Express, which offers deliveries within 90 minutes. Items that can be delivered within this time frame include ready-to-eat meals and sushi from the supermarket's deli. The service will be soft-launched in selected areas in town, followed by an islandwide rollout next year.

Other home-grown outfits such as Groxers and Purely Fresh are working on revamping their websites.

The Sunday Times compares 16 online grocers to see how they stack up in terms of pricing, delivery charges and key strengths.

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