RedMart launches new marketplace platform for groceries

SINGAPORE - Small businesses keen to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon now have one more platform to tap on, with the launch of online grocer RedMart's new marketplace on Friday(July 24).

More than 100 businesses have already started selling products over the last four months on a test version of the RedMart Marketplace, which currently offers over 5,000 items, mainly food, grocery and household items.

More than half of these companies already see daily sales from the platform. Popular products include craft beers and black chia seeds, which are said to be very nutritious.

RedMart's new marketplace adds to other online marketplaces such as Qoo10, Rakuten and Lazada, which offer a wide variety of products including electronics and fashion apparel and have grown popular here in the last two years.

At the launch on Friday, RedMart also announced that it will roll out a six-month programme to train around 400 local businesses to use e-commerce from this September to August next year(16). This is in in collaboration with enterprise agency Spring Singapore.

"RedMart is working with Spring Singapore to support more local SMEs to come onboard the marketplace platform, as part of efforts to uplift the e-commerce capabilities and competitiveness of local retailers," said Mrs Kee Ai Nah, group director for the industry and enterprise group at Spring Singapore.

Small and medium enterprises often face challenges in online operations due to factors such as the manpower crunch and logistics costs.

Ms Kareen Lai, 32, founder of homegrown firm Nuts About Butter, which sells premium nut spreads, said: "The main problem for small businesses in e-commerce is logistics. We have to do deliveries ourselves as it is difficult to find delivery men who would commit to just a few drop offs in a week."

RedMart manages the logistics of delivery and sellers give them a commission fee from each item sold in return.

Said Ms Gaya Subramaniam, who runs a Nordic food and specialty product business Fine Life by herself: "It might be cheaper to set up my own web store but if I put a salary on the time I spend on deliveries and all... using RedMart Marketplace would amount to 30 to 40 per cent savings in the long-run."

Mr Roger Egan, chief executive of RedMart, expects sales from the company's marketplace platform to grow rapidly.

He said:"The marketplace platform might grow much bigger than the other part of RedMart's business. I am hoping that the marketplace business will eclipse our regular business.

"It can grow much faster - it is less work and it doesn't require extra warehouse space from us... SMEs get the know-how. It is a win-win situation."

cherylw@sph.com.sg