Start Singapore : E-grocer offers 1-month paid holiday in Japan

Honestbee co-founder Joel Sng says the two picked will have to work in Niseko supermarkets.
Honestbee co-founder Joel Sng says the two picked will have to work in Niseko supermarkets.

E-grocer offers 1-month paid holiday in Japan

Singapore e-grocer Honestbee is looking for two candidates to enjoy a one-month all-expenses-paid holiday in Niseko, a well-known Japanese ski resort in Hokkaido. Each will also earn US$10,000 (S$14,150).

Co-founder Joel Sng told The Straits Times this trip is to let people take time off to "refresh themselves, and re-ignite their passion to enhance their lives".

The two candidates will have to work in some supermarket chains in Niseko.

"We want them to have work experience in Japan because the conditions there are different. For example, when it is snowing, cars can move only at 30km per hour which slows down grocery delivery times."

They will also have to post their experiences like skiing and enjoying a Japanese hot spring or onsen on Honestbee's Japanese Instagram account.

Founded in June this year, the e-grocer does not hold inventory. Instead, it has experienced shoppers who will pick the freshest products on behalf of customers. The orders can be delivered on the same day.

Submissions for the World's Coolest Job (iconosquare.com/contests/worldscoolestjob) close on Dec 18.

Honestbee is looking for social-media-savvy applicants who are aged at least 21. The two successful applicants will be in Japan for a month from Jan 4. After that, they could be employed by Honestbee here or at any of its operations in Thailand, Malaysia or other regional countries.


uParcel enters race with disruptive technology

Online shopping is huge in Singapore. Consumers are expected to spend $4.4 billion on e-purchases this year, according to a recent e-commerce study by PayPal and Singapore Management University.

Ms Mabeline Xie of local logistics start-up uParcel said that in a mature market such as the United States, the average order size could be $100.

If the same order size is applied here, it could work out to 44 million parcels this year, she added.

With such a potentially vast market, she set up uParcel last September, knowing that it is up against current market leader SingPost and courier firms like DHL.

uParcel is disruptive, she said, because it does not need to build large warehouses - unlike SingPost. "SingPost just did its groundbreaking for a $182 million regional eCommerce Logistics Hub. Every time a traditional courier expands, it has to invest in warehouses, sorting systems and fleets of vehicles."

These are expensive capital investments, she said, adding that they will need to have business volume which will come from big online retailers.

uParcel, which targets small online vendors, has no such assets. It uses mobile technology to bring together online vendors and delivery agents. Online vendors will post delivery requests with the pick-up and drop-off locations. uParcel agents near these locations will be automatically selected based on their mobile GPS location. Once the agent accepts the assignment, he exchanges details with the vendor. Last-minute changes can be accepted because the vendor can contact the agent. Vendors can also track delivery status on uParcel's mobile app. uParcel also provides insurance on every delivery.

Ms Xie said the agents could be anyone who wants to earn an extra income. But the start-up vets them to ensure, for example, that they have valid driving licences. uParcel now has 300 delivery agents. Ms Xie aims to levy a commission on each delivery in future.


Living labs for testing innovative products

Singapore start-ups can test their new products and solutions next year in Barcelona, Spain. And Spanish start-ups will be able to do the same in Singapore.

This is the result of an Infocomm Investments (IIPL) contract with Barcelona Activ, the local development agency of the Barcelona City Council.

IIPL chief executive Alex Lin said this exchange programme will enable the most innovative start-ups to use Singapore and Barcelona as living labs for their new products and solutions.

Interested start-ups can write to IIPL or Barcelona Activ.

Grace Chng

•Send start-up news and developments to chngkeg@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'StartSingapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe