A family-owned fresh seafood store took a dive into digitalisation to stay afloat in a competitive industry.
By Tan Wen Qi
Sin Chwee Mini Mart can be described as a familiar landmark in the Bukit Batok East area.
Mr Jimmy Goh is the second-generation owner of the wet-market storel which, since 1990, has been offering residents the pick of fresh seafood from Singapore’s Jurong Fishery Port.
Business was good, to say the least.
Mr Goh said: “However, in recent years we have noticed the changing patterns in consumer behaviour, with less people coming to the wet market and more opting for convenience through supermarkets and online grocers.”
Realizing that they had to look into new ways to keep their market share, Mr Goh reached out for help to digitalise his business.
Now on a fresh path of building Tankfully Fresh, an online seafood retail platform complementing their physical stall, Mr Goh walks us through the process of going from disrupted to disrupter.
As second-generation owners, what were your expectations for the business?
With my parents’ business knowledge within the fresh seafood sector, they had already grown Sin Chwee into a one-stop trade business that imports and exports fresh seafood. However, with the physical stall, we inherited a business that was greatly affected by the changing trends of consumer behaviour.
Our expectations were that of finding new ways to grow our business and continuing the family legacy.
Can you describe the process of deciding to start an online business?
We sought help from the SME Digital Tech Hub as we had no prior experience of setting up an online business. After understanding our business requirements and the possibility of offering fresh fish and seafood delivery to consumers, we were introduced to Firstcom Solutions to help us with e-commerce development.
Firstcom Solutions was able to help us with creating our logo, brand and website, as well as set-up the e-commerce platform for the online business, which we named Tankfully Fresh. Their assistance was valuable because they had the experience to help us, and their pre-approved e-commerce solution from the SMEs Go Digital programme was a good fit for us.
Their advice and willingness to walk us through the entire set-up journey was also reassuring to us first-time users.
We also tapped on the Project Management Services under the SMEs Go Digital programme. We received help from digital project managers in re-engineering our business processes, redesigned job roles and responsibilities to cater for digitally enhanced e-commerce processes and meet online customers’ requirements.
You started Tankfully Fresh in April this year. How has it been so far?
Yes, even though it has only been a few months, we have noticed huge benefits to our business. First, the online business has reduced stress to a large extent. With just our physical stall, we do not know when customers will arrive because the peak periods are unpredictable. It is thus difficult to hire workers for such short stressful shifts.
With Tankfully Fresh, we have the orders in advance and can plan for purchase and manpower more effectively. The fulfilment of orders is better paced and the employees appreciate it.
There is also less cost because we only order what is required.
The other development is that we are able to attract new employees to the business. Because the work is no longer manual, using the e-commerce platform to track orders, complete administrative tasks and learn digital marketing skills have become opportunities that attract employees to join the business.
Now that you have started the journey of going digital, what are the possibilities you see?
We have also explored using a content management system (CMS), implementing a branding exercise as well as social and digital marketing.
With the CMS solution, we are able to consolidate our picking lists and easily pre-pick fish during less busy periods, which helps to reduce errors and time spent. It also helps us to analyse the buying patterns of our customers.
The branding exercise, as well as social and digital marketing has enabled us to expand our brand to the whole of Singapore and beyond.
We are also open to exploring the idea that Tankfully Fresh can become a one-stop shop offering products from the various stalls in our wet-market. With this, the same customer can purchase chicken, fish and other products easily!
In our future plans, the next possibility is to expand our B2B operations through e-marketplaces for seafood traders, such as SeafoodXchange by vCargo Cloud.
ABOUT SMEs GO DIGITAL PROGRAMME
The SMEs Go Digital Programme makes going digital simple for SMEs.
Under the programme, SMEs can gain access to a number of pre-approved solutions to take their businesses to the next level. There are pre-approved solutions for a range of sectors, including environmental services, food services, retail, security, wholesale trade and logistics.
Also, there is funding support for SMEs that adopt eligible pre-approved solutions.
Visit the SMEs Go Digital Programme page to find out more about the SME Digital Tech Hub and Project Management Services today.
For more information on pre-approved solutions supported under the Productivity Solutions Grant, visit Tech Depot at SME Portal.