Wet market store goes digital to reel in younger customers

Mr Jimmy Goh, owner of Sin Chwee Mini Market's e-commerce arm Tankfully Fresh, said that when the online business first started, there was about one order every two days. Now, Tankfully Fresh receives three to four orders a day, and customers buy on
Mr Jimmy Goh, owner of Sin Chwee Mini Market's e-commerce arm Tankfully Fresh, said that when the online business first started, there was about one order every two days. Now, Tankfully Fresh receives three to four orders a day, and customers buy on average 8kg to 10kg worth of fish. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Seeing fewer customers at his family's wet market seafood store in Bukit Gombak, Sin Chwee Mini Market second-generation owner Jimmy Goh decided to swim with the tide and digitalise the business to reach out to customers of his generation.

In April, Mr Goh, 28, rolled out an e-commerce arm of the business called Tankfully Fresh that allows customers to order fresh seafood online and get it delivered to their doorsteps islandwide the next day.

He is confident of being able to carve out a niche in the grocery delivery space that includes the major supermarket chains here and online supermarket RedMart.

"We called it Tankfully Fresh because it is the feeling we want our customers to have when they open their package, like 'heng ah, it is fresh'," said Mr Goh, using the Hokkien term for "thankfully" or "luckily".

Tankfully Fresh's website works in a similar way to most online marketplaces, with customers placing their desired items into a virtual cart and paying upon checkout. Each item comes with a photo, a short description and suggestions for how it should be stored and cooked.

Customers then choose one of two delivery periods the next day, either from 9am to noon or 2pm to 5pm. They can also ask for the fish to be prepared or cut in specific ways.

From about one order every two days when it started out, Tankfully Fresh now receives three or four orders a day. Customers on average buy about 8kg to10kg worth of fish, and they pay for delivery. For now, Mr Goh delivers most of the orders himself, taking the opportunity to introduce the brand to customers.

Since 1990, Sin Chwee Mini Market has been selling fresh seafood from its store in Bukit Gombak, but in a bid to reel in younger customers, its owners have digitalised their business. Yesterday, Mr Jimmy Goh (left), owner of its e-commerce arm Tankfu
NET A FRESH CATCH ONLINE: Since 1990, Sin Chwee Mini Market has been selling fresh seafood from its store in Bukit Gombak, but in a bid to reel in younger customers, its owners have digitalised their business. Yesterday, Mr Jimmy Goh (left), owner of its e-commerce arm Tankfully Fresh, showed Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann (second from left) how the business has changed. With them are Mr Goh's wife Madeline Choo, and his parents, Madam Chua Bee Hong and Mr Goh Thiam Chwee, who co-founded the store. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann visited Sin Chwee yesterday, where she was shown the Tankfully Fresh platform.

She said its journey serves as a positive example of a traditional business going online and transforming itself, and hoped more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in traditional trades would follow suit.

 
 
 

Sin Chwee was founded by Mr Goh's father Goh Thiam Chwee and mother Chua Bee Hong in 1990. His father, 56, started thinking last year about doing something to address customer traffic which had fallen by 20 per cent in the past three years. Weekly revenue for the physical store can reach up to $10,000.

Mr Goh was then running a coffee shop near his parents' store with his wife Madeline Choo, 26.

Mr Goh said: "My dad was the one who did a lot of groundwork at first, approaching Enterprise Singapore, which put him in touch with the SME Digital Tech Hub.

"But he knew he wasn't very tech-savvy and thought I might be able to understand our needs better, and that is how my wife and I got involved."

The SME Digital Tech Hub provides specialist consultant services for SMEs, and is a subset of the Infocomm Media Development Authority's SMEs Go Digital programme. Through the Tech Hub, the Gohs were introduced to digital solutions provider Firstcom Solutions, which helped design and implement the Tankfully Fresh e-commerce platform.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Wet market store goes digital to reel in younger customers'. Print Edition | Subscribe