When the price difference of a cake can be as much as $8.50, depending on where you order it

Some restaurants and hawkers are trying to reach more customers by joining multiple delivery platforms.
Some restaurants and hawkers are trying to reach more customers by joining multiple delivery platforms.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Buying food from your favourite hawker stall or restaurant has never been easier, thanks to the wealth of food delivery apps and websites available.

Yet, the price difference on these apps or websites when ordering the same food from the same shop can vary by as much as $8.50, as The Sunday Times found when we tried to get a cake from Awfully Chocolate recently.

Customers can buy Awfully Chocolate cakes on the GrabFood app or directly from the cake shop's website.

GrabFood's delivery fee was $6.50, while Awfully Chocolate charges a flat fee of $15 for deliveries that are made between 10am and 6pm.

The price of the cake is the same on both platforms.

Ms Lyn Lee, who owns Awfully Chocolate, said the $15 fee customers pay when ordering from her website goes entirely to independent delivery drivers whom the company has been working with over the years.

GrabFood is able to charge a lower fee by taking a 25 per cent commission from the cake shop.

Some restaurants and hawkers are trying to reach more customers by joining multiple delivery platforms, where the prices of their food can differ markedly.

The Sunday Times randomly picked four items from four stalls at Old Airport Road Food Centre that are available on the WhyQ app and Buy4u website.

We chose special chicken cutlet curry rice from Jack's Kitchen, Famous Old Airport Fried Oyster, Kim Satay and wonton noodles from Cho Kee Noodle.

Three of the four items were cheaper on the WhyQ app.

For example, WhyQ charged $4.60 for the special chicken cutlet curry rice from Jack's Kitchen, but the same item was $5.80 on the Buy4u website.

The only item that was cheaper on Buy4u was the satay from Kim Satay - 10 sticks of satay were $7.50 on Buy4u, whereas they were $7.80 on WhyQ.

But WhyQ later added a $1.50 delivery fee to each of the items we ordered.

The total cost for having the four dishes delivered to this reporter's home was $29.40 on WhyQ.

Buy4u charged $28.60, including a $4.50 delivery fee.

 
 
 

Buy4u co-founder Alex Ng said that the prices of the food items were higher on his platform because the firm does not take a commission from hawkers, so he marks up the food prices to help cover his costs.

The actual price of the special chicken cutlet from Jack's Kitchen was $3.80, but Buy4u added its own $2 fee.

WhyQ's hawker platform derives revenue from a combination of a delivery fee of $1.50 for each item, paid by the customer, and a cut from the hawkers.

If the hawkers cannot pay a commission, WhyQ marks up the prices to be paid by customers, said chief executive and co-founder Varun Saraf.

Mr Ng, who has a pool of 17 freelance riders and drivers making Buy4u's deliveries, said he pays them between $7 and $12 for each trip, even when he charges a lower delivery fee of $4.50.

Buy4u does not impose a minimum-order fee for some hawker centres, such as Old Airport Road Food Centre, so a customer can order one fried kway teow for $6.50 and still pay a delivery fee of $4.50, even if he lives nearby.

"No choice. Nobody would want to pay a high delivery fee for hawker food. The price of the delivery cannot be more than the food. But the majority of our customers don't order just one item," said Mr Ng.

He added that he would need a minimum order of $20 to cover his costs to make a 10 per cent profit from the deal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 07, 2020, with the headline 'What you could pay for the same dish on different platforms'. Subscribe