When Covid-19’s safe-distancing measures drastically reduced dine-in traffic at local food haunts, many hawkers were undeniably worried about their sales. Mdm Jennifer Tan who ran Stall No. 25, a drinks stall, at Chomp Chomp Food Centre was one of them. But she was determined not to let this get her down.
A big believer of moving with the times, Mdm Tan and her husband Mr Patrick See thus decided to take their first step into the food delivery space and try GrabFood. When Grab rolled out its mix and match function, the duo soon found customers ordering their sugarcane with main dishes, just as they would if they dined in. While they report up to 30 percent of increase in revenue, they are especially happy about an unexpected outcome — a new set of fans who discovered their sugarcane drink through the app, and then showed up in person at the stall.
Mr See said: “We got to know a lot more new customers through it. They’d come by our stall and tell us, ‘I’m actually your Grab customer!”
What was the digitalisation process like for you and how did you adapt to it?
Mr See: “When we first started using the app it was a bit difficult. Orders would come in while we served dine-in customers. This would get us flustered. So we made minor mistakes, like accidentally leaving out lemon, or adding it when we didn’t need to. Or not adding ice, that sort of thing.”
Madam Tan: “When we got it wrong, we’d immediately let customers know. We told them we’d give them a free sugarcane drink to make up for it with their next order. Our customers were very understanding, they accepted it.”
What’s the biggest benefit about going online?
Mr See: “We now have regular online customers using the app, and we faithfully do our best to remember their preferences. For instance, if they don’t want too much ice, or ask us to add a couple more longans to their longan-drink order.”
Madam Tan: “We know all our best customers. When their orders come in, we recognise their names. Using the app is good; it really helped us a lot.”
Do you also encourage your fellow hawkers, especially older ones, to join food delivery platforms?
Madam Tan: “Chomp Chomp’s older generation of hawkers don’t really like these apps. We tell them, the benefit is that customers get their orders, we just prepare it, and we don’t have to worry. And the money goes directly to our accounts, we don’t need to manage that. But some are still very resistant. So I tell them, even in a rainstorm you can have customers — in fact business might even be better! Nowadays, it’s very common, everyone is using the platform.”