Dim sum eatery goes big on online sales as queues vanish

Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant's sales from food deliveries went up significantly during the circuit breaker period, from less than 1 per cent to around 60 per cent of its average monthly revenue.
Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant's sales from food deliveries went up significantly during the circuit breaker period, from less than 1 per cent to around 60 per cent of its average monthly revenue.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

When Singapore entered the circuit breaker in April, Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant, which often had snaking queues outside its Jalan Besar outlet pre-pandemic, saw its sales plummet by around 30 per cent and profits by about 40 per cent.

To minimise losses from dine-in sales, it turned to online sales using food delivery services, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said yesterday during a visit to the home-grown restaurant.

The eatery also stepped up its digital marketing and tapped additional food delivery platforms to reach more customers, with support from Enterprise Singapore's Food Delivery Booster Package to subsidise delivery costs, said Mr Chan.

The package, introduced in April, covered part of the commission charged by delivery firms Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood.

Mr Chan said these efforts helped to significantly increase Swee Choon's sales from food deliveries during the circuit breaker, from less than 1 per cent to around 60 per cent of its average monthly revenue.

"While dine-in has resumed, food delivery sales continue to contribute about 25 per cent to 30 per cent of their monthly revenue," he added.

Adopting digital technologies has also helped Swee Choon understand where its customers order from, so that it can make better decisions about opening future outlets, said Mr Chan.

Mr Ernest Ting, the third-generation owner of the 58-year-old Swee Choon, said the plan is to open two more cloud kitchens, in addition to the first one which opened in Tampines last week.

"There are plans to go north to the Sengkang, Punggol area, and to the west. So these are three clusters we have identified in the last few months where we want to have cloud kitchens," he added.

Cloud kitchens are centralised kitchens where two or more restaurants are located in the same space for delivery services.


  • Facts and figures

  • WHAT IT IS
    The food service sector comprises establishments from foodcourts and coffee shops to cafes, snack bars and restaurants. Food caterers and canteens are also included.

    NUMBER OF WORKERS
    199,300, or 5.5 per cent of the total workforce.

  • CONTRIBUTION
    1.1 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product.

  • GROWTH
    Total food and beverage sales fell by 29.9 per cent in September, compared with the same month last year. Sales in September were also down 1.2 per cent from August this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2020, with the headline 'Dim sum eatery goes big on online sales as queues vanish'. Print Edition | Subscribe