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Brunei's first online delivery grocery store to debut soon
Publication Date : 03-09-2013
Bruneians will soon be able to have their groceries delivered to their doorsteps.
Touted as the country's first online supermarket, SocialMart (socialmart.com.bn) allows customers in Brunei to purchase daily essentials through the website and delivered to their homes for purchases above US$30.
The project is developed by SocialBuzz, the ICT firm behind the online collective buying website SocialDeal.
The company's founder Hiro Tien said that SocialMart hopes to raise the bar for internet startup businesses in the country and the region by offering same day delivery and savings on grocery items, a sector that has long been known to be having razor thin margins.
Tien claimed SocialMart's delivery service is the fastest in the country in terms of delivery logistics by a locally developed online shopping website, promising instant delivery to customers' homes in hours instead of days.
This is made possible through its in-house logistics and warehousing, he explained, whereby the firm keeps stock of all items displayed on the website and hires its own delivery team.
"Shoppers can check out an order before 12pm and have the option to have their orders delivered on the same day from 2pm to 8pm, whereas checkouts after 12pm will see the products delivered the next day," he said, adding that the store charges a flat rate delivery fee of $5 as well as free delivery for orders above $75.
The online supermarket currently boasts some 700 products of popular brands in stock, ranging from food and beverage to household products to personal care and baby products.
Tien said that local distributors and wholesalers on board the service include Aliaa Trading, Kingston Beverages, Ben Foods, Tiah Trading and Lee Sin Trading, among others.
He added that the store is able to bring prices down due to lower overheads than of a physical supermarket. It leverages on the purchase with purchase (PWP) model that is widely practiced in supermarkets to offer discounts and savings to its customers.
"Without cashiers, sales attendants, aisles of shelves, rental and many other traditional retailing expenses to pay for, we are able to bring prices down, and we are able to go about with prices not seen before in local supermarkets for some items," said Tien, adding that the online shopping experience also takes its customers away from the constant car park wars and long checkout queues.
Tien said that SocialMart is part of his firm's diversification into retail and consumer packaged market in response to the growing online shopping activities in the country, particularly through its flagship product Socialdeal.
"We learnt from our SocialDeal venture that we have a very very active market for online purchases ranging between $30 to $300. We're talking about real card/bank transfer transactions online. There are times we face situations where too many customers are chasing too little deals and times where some deals do really well," Tien said in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
"We started thinking, what would happen if we could offer endless supply of products online," he added.
Tien said that the idea has been under cost benefit and risk analysis for over a year.
"We got even more serious over the last six months as we iron out the risks, loopholes and rewards, before we took the leap of faith," he said.
After months of research, the startup unveiled SocialMart at an ICT Gallery at the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Hari Raya Banquet Ceremony held at the International Conventon Centre last week, during which the company demonstrated the website's online shopping experience to visitors.
The launch of the project was officiated by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
The store will launch its first delivery to its customers in Brunei-Muara District on September 9. Currently the website is taking orders from its growing membership since it went online last week.
In the coming months, Tien said, the store will cater to residents in other districts, and its product range is expected to grow by 3,000 products by the end of the year.