In this mobile era, convenience is truly at our fingertips — but it comes with a price.
Many Singaporeans are willing to pay more to get food delivery firms to ‘dabao’ their favourite food and deliver them to their doorsteps.
As the hunger for convenience drives demand, it’s no surprise that the food delivery scene in Singapore has seen a boom in recent years.
WhyQ specialises in hawker food delivery, while Porterfetch only delivers supper, operating between 9pm and 3am.
The last we caught up with WhyQ, it has since expanded beyond just serving hawker lunches in the CBD and is now delivering islandwide all-day — while still maintaining a low delivery fee of $1.50.
On the other hand, Porterfetch has not shared with us any business updates despite promising to “offer the full lowdown” nearer to their 2nd anniversary, which falls on July 7.
In our last email correspondence on May 30, co-founder Daniel Chan said that “a lot has happened since” we last featured them in August 2017.
In fact, we are on the verge (of) some major shifts as well that may be happening in the next two months as we approach our 2nd anniversary.– Daniel Chan, co-founder of Porterfetch in an email to Vulcan Post
What Happened To Porterfetch?
When asked to share future business plans in the 2017 interview, Chan said that Porterfetch is planning to roll out a mobile app (they finally launched it in March this year), expand into a 24-hour operation, and go beyond food to deliver anything “from convenient stores to hardware, electronics and other essentials”.
A quick search for Porterfetch on Google Play revealed that Porterfetch has indeed expanded its supper delivery service to also include the delivery of essentials.
However, it is unlikely that Porterfetch has expanded into a 24-hour operation since their Facebook’s cover image shows that they deliver from 8pm to 3am.
While it’s not round-the-clock, delivery hours might have been adjusted to start from 8pm instead to 9pm (Porterfetch previously said they deliver from 9pm to 3am).
Porterfetch’s website is currently down and on its Facebook page, the last update posted on June 11 notified users that its app is “currently unavailable for maintenance”.
There has been no updates from Porterfetch since, and fans have been flooding the post with comments saying that the app is still down.
Many also speculated that they have “closed shop” and are probably “gone for good”.
One user also commented that “their app (is) not even showing at any app store”. I tried to re-download the Porterfetch app on Apple App Store, but was greeted with an ‘error’ message instead.
A colleague of mine, who is a big fan of Porterfetch, is saddened by its sudden hiatus and potential exit.
She used to order from Porterfetch every week to satisfy her late-night cravings and it served as a convenient option when other food delivery firms stop delivering after 10pm.
The last time she attempted to use Porterfetch was 2 to 3 months ago, but the app refused to load because it was “updating” and it has been unavailable ever since.
While Porterfetch charges a higher delivery fee (it starts from $5 and goes up depending on the delivery distance), she was willing to fork out more because it offered a variety of food options, which “ranges from convenient stores to hawker stalls”.
Another One Bites The Dust?
Many food delivery firms have been battling it out for a slice of the pie, aggressively pushing out promo codes and discounts, but it’s unfortunate that a few of them have fallen out of the race.
Meanwhile, homegrown startup honestbee has exited the food delivery market in Singapore in May 2019.
It recently applied for a moratorium, and court documents seen by Vulcan Post cited that it faced stiff competition from rivals like Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood.
Honestbee added that the food delivery market in Singapore is “heavily saturated”.
“This meant that the only way to be profitable was to be able to provide the services on a very large-scale to enjoy cost savings, but such a scale takes time to build.”
Could this be the same reason for Porterfetch?
Porterfetch is a niche food delivery service that operates only at night. While this meant lower operating costs for the startup, it is hard for them to sustain the business and eventually grow it into a “24-hour operation”.
They would have to increase their delivery fleet and lower their delivery fees to better rival its competitors and this would mean burning more cash.
Question is, why would you fix things when it’s not broken?
Porterfetch is already doing well. Its late-night food delivery service is a novel business idea as it is the first of its kind in Singapore.
Moreover, it has garnered a loyal user base within its two years of establishment. In its first month alone, Porterfetch has received over 1,000 orders and seen many repeat customers.
If it wants to capture a bigger market share, it has to be willing to spend more on marketing efforts to get its name out.
Millennials, who are the most savvy generation, will definitely embrace Porterfetch with open arms — they often stay up late, and are willing to spend on food and convenience.
Porterfetch is unfortunately not on the top of consumers’ mind when it comes to food delivery now, but it has a strong differentiating factor from the ‘big three’.
If the firm chooses to play on its strengths, I do believe that a time will come when foodies in Singapore will think of Porterfetch when hunger pangs strike at midnight.
Featured Image Credit: Porterfetch