SINGAPORE - Seeing fewer customers at his family's wet market seafood store in Bukit Gombak, Sin Chwee Mini Market second-generation owner Jimmy Goh decided to swim with the tide and digitalise the business to reach out to customers of his generation.
In April, Mr Goh, 28, rolled out an e-commerce arm of the business called Tankfully Fresh that allows customers to order fresh seafood online and get it delivered to their doorsteps island-wide the next day.
He is confident of carving out a niche in a grocery delivery space that includes the major supermarket chains here and online supermarket RedMart.
"We called it Tankfully Fresh because it's the feeling we want our customers to have when they open their package, like 'heng ah, it's fresh'," said Mr Goh, using the Hokkien term for thankfully or luckily.
"We recognise that customers today value convenience and they also want to eat healthy. So our proposition is why buy frozen seafood when you can buy fresh and have it delivered to you."
Tankfully Fresh's website works similarly to most online marketplaces, with customers placing their desired items into a virtual cart and paying upon check-out. Each item comes with a photo, a short description and suggestions for how it should be stored and cooked.
Customers then choose one of two delivery periods the next day, either from 9am to noon or 2pm to 5pm. They can also ask for the fish to be prepared or cut in specific ways, as if they were speaking to a vendor in person.
From about one order every two days when it started out, Tankfully Fresh now receives three or four orders a day. Customers on average buy about 8kg-10kg worth of fish, which costs slightly more than at the store, and they pay for delivery. For now, Mr Goh delivers most of the orders himself, taking the opportunity to introduce the brand to customers.
Orders that are further away are outsourced to third-party delivery riders.
Sin Chwee was founded by Mr Goh's parents Goh Thiam Chwee and Chua Bee Hong in 1990. His father, 56, started thinking last year about doing something to address customer traffic which had fallen by 20 per cent in the past three years.
Weekly revenue for the physical store can reach up to $10,000.
Mr Goh was running a coffee shop in the vicinity of his parents' store at the time with his wife Madeline Choo, 26.
Mr Goh said: "My dad was the one who did a lot of groundwork at first, approaching Enterprise Singapore who put him in touch with the SME Digital Tech Hub. But he knew he wasn't very tech-savvy and thought I might be able to understand our needs better and that's how my wife and I got involved."
The SME Digital Tech Hub provides specialist consultant services for small- and medium-sized enterprises and is a subset of the Infocomm Media Development Authority's SMEs Go Digital programme.
Through the Tech Hub, the Gohs were introduced to digital solutions provider Firstcom Solutions, which helped design and implement the Tankfully Fresh e-commerce platform.
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann visited Sin Chwee on Tuesday (Aug 20), where she was shown the Tankfully Fresh platform.
"In my conversations with many SMEs, I find that they do want to transform (digitally) but I think they are a little bit concerned about what that means," she said.
"For them to see somebody take that first step is critical and I feel that Tankfully Fresh is an example that can inspire many other companies and trades on their own transformation journey."
Mr Goh said a digital shopfront helps address the problem they faced of many younger people put off from patronising wet market stalls by the earthier environment.
Others could have had a bad experience being overcharged for substandard goods because they do not know how to pick a good fish or how to haggle for a good price.
"A lot of people in my generation don't really know what to do in a wet market. For example, when you come to a stall it's normal to shout loudly to get the vendor's attention, to 'cut queue' and get served faster," he said.
"But young people will just quietly stand there, end up waiting for 20 minutes and get angry. So our website is very straightforward. Leave it to us to pick the best fish for you. No hassle, no wet floors and no haggling."