Words by Julia Chan
At Global Optimal Trading, e-commerce makes life easier for workers and customers.
Have you experienced searching in vain for that particular brand of curry powder to cook your favourite curry dish? Understanding the demands and needs of local consumers, Global Optimal Trading was founded in 2018 to provide a one-stop solution for imported authentic Indian grocery and spice products in Singapore.
To serve customers looking for Indian groceries, vegetables and spices at affordable prices, Global Optimal Trading has set up two physical retail outlets under the name Sri Natraj Stores, supported by a warehouse at Defu Ave 10.
Currently, the Sri Natraj Stores are located conveniently at Race Course Road and Serangoon Road to serve walk-in customers (B2C) and Indian F&B operators (B2B) located in Little India.
In addition, Global Optimal Trading manufactures its own products such as dals, spices, masala powders, cold pressed oils, natural millets and noodles under the brand Go Easy Shop. This brand assures customers of a money back guarantee and aims to bring the best ingredients from around the world to Singapore customers.
In a short period of time, Global Optimal Trading successfully added more and more products to its line-up while managing increasing orders from customers.
However, this added some strain to the manual processes that its workers, mainly older workers, were using at that point of time to keep track of orders. As it had a lean workforce of 16 workers, the company decided to explore ways to improve its productivity.
What productivity challenges did Global Optimal Trading overcome?
Boominathan Valliammai, director of Global Optimal Trading, shared that the top challenges the company faced in the past were manual processing of order transactions, lack of transaction visibility between suppliers and customers, errors and delays in transaction processing resulting in higher costs, and trouble in co-operation between suppliers and customers.
In the past, its older workers took down orders for B2B and B2C clients via phone calls, documenting using pen and paper. Time was spent filing paper documents and communicating verbally to track orders, deliveries and inventory.
With e-commerce enabling minimarts to bring their businesses online to reach a wider audience, Global Optimal Trading saw the opportunities this new channel brought. The company worked with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to explore ways to overcome its productivity challenges.
Embarking on e-commerce to improve productivity
Under the e2i WorkPro Job Redesign initiative, Global Optimal Trading started Go Easy Shop’s online presence in 2020. Customers can visit Go Easy Shop via their website and mobile app to purchase groceries delivered directly to their doorstep.
This shift from manual order (via phone calls or WhatsApp) to online ordering has not only seen an increase in business, but also an increase in workers’ productivity by about 40 per cent.
Valliammai said, “Before the implementation of our e-commerce platforms, order taking and processing took up to about 30 minutes for B2B buyers on average. After we shifted to e-commerce, this duration was shortened to less than 20 minutes on average (or a 33% improvement). It’s a great pleasure working with e2i on the productivity enhancement solutions and thanks to e2i for the tremendous support given till the project was completed.”
With time saved, its workers no longer need to rely on tracking manual documents and can easily obtain consolidated electronic reports via the e-commerce system.
“Workers also have more time to communicate with our customers, allow walk-in customers to shop by appointment, and learn how to sell our products online,” said Valliammai. To share the productivity gains, the company gave its impacted workers a wage increment and one-time incentive to appreciate their efforts to achieve higher productivity.
Leveraging on e-commerce to overcome Covid-19
The timing of Go Easy Shop’s launch came just in time to overcome COVID-19, when many retail businesses suffered due to the reduced footfall to their physical shops.
Valliammai explained how Go Easy Shop enables the company to overcome the disruption caused by the pandemic so far. “We can post updates on our website, adapt our product offering, and promote sales through digital gift vouchers and discount promotions. The website enables customers to evaluate our products and pay via digital banking. Our staff learnt how to do contactless selling and sell on social media, which limits in-person contact too,” he elaborated.
Being an enterprising company, Global Optimal Trading is looking forward to more ambitious plans in the near future. In its roadmap, there are plans to expand its wholesale market share with a wider variety of grocery products, offer an expanded bandwidth of multi-range products in economy online shopping with speedy delivery, and further brand their Go Easy Shop with a range of products which are unique and healthier.
For more information on Go Easy Shop and Global Optimal Trading, visit goeasyshop.com.sg