He earns $4,000 a month doing your grocery shopping
Former construction safety officer finds satisfaction as a personal grocery shopper
Think of him as the Uber-X of grocery shopping.
For a small delivery fee, he will take your grocery shopping list that you have specified online, visit the store, call you if the products are not available, and deliver on the same day.
Mr Achmad Sobirin Suhaimi, 31, is part of a new wave of service providers taking online shopping to a new level.
The former full-time construction safety officer used to squeeze in grocery deliveries before or after work to earn some extra bucks.
His clients were from start-up Market9, an online platform where customers can order their groceries from most major supermarkets under one site and have the items delivered to their doorstep within three hours.
Mr Achmad was paid $8 per grocery order and delivery he fulfilled.
Two months ago, Mr Achmad quit his construction job to go into grocery shopping full-time.
He started his own company, and today, earns $3,000 to $4,000 a month helping clients - both individuals and businesses - do their day-to-day chores such as dealing with couriers, and personal grocery shopping.
He thinks demand for personal grocery shoppers will "definitely grow and surpass my delivery business".
"There will always be demand for this," he said.
He noted that there are several such businesses in the US although it is still a novelty here.
He said: "Anyway, I like to shop. I do it for my family and it is a leisure activity for me. I don't mind doing it for others and it is fun."
The father of three children aged one, four and six owns a Suzuki Swift hatchback. He said: "I live near a supermarket too.
"I'm very fast as I'm familiar with the supermarket so everything is done in a jiffy. I shop there for my own groceries, so I know where the items are located."
For fewer than 10 items, he can shop and check-out within half an hour.
For more than 20 items, he needs about an hour or more, depending on the crowd in the store.
He is also familiar with the peak hours at supermarkets and chooses to shop during less busy hours to expedite his work.
"Even if I know an item is priced cheaper elsewhere, my instruction is to get the item from a particular supermarket," he said.
"If an item is not available, I'll inform the client. Based on experience, they usually ask for another brand or to drop the item."
He delivers the items immediately after paying for them and gets reimbursed for the them later.
He said: "I don't keep the items. Some of them are fresh items, such as butter."
Although customers have the option of shopping online from most major supermarkets, Mr Achmad thinks his service is still relevant.
He said: "Some customers may not be Internet-savvy. They like to speak to a person who can respond to them immediately, rather than sending e-mails and waiting for replies.
"They want the personal touch and someone to attend to them fast. They like the idea of someone shopping for them, where they put us on speed-dial to call anytime."
Despite being at his client's beck-and-call, Mr Achmad derives satisfaction from his work.
He said: "When people are so busy and I help them to shop, they have one less thing to do so they can have more family time with their kids."
"Some customers may not be Internet savvy... They want the personal touch and someone to attend to them fast."
— Mr Achmad Sobirin Suhaimi on the demand for personal grocery shoppers
Grocery concierge services set for growth
GROWING BUSINESS: Founders of Market9, Mr Chua Junjie (left) and Mr Syed Haniff Othman Alkaff, who were university classmates, are enjoying success at their grocery shopping start-up credit. TNP PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Call it online grocery shopping on steroids.
Not only will personal shoppers get the items on your list, they will call you when any items are not available and suggest alternatives.
The icing on the cake: delivery in as little as three hours' time.
Customers pay a delivery fee of $8 or $10 per order.
We spoke to two grocery concierge services here and they both reported growing demand.
One, honestbee, said its number of users soared after it ran a two-month promotion with a local bank.
Its spokesman said: "We (have already) achieved our 2016 goals in four weeks. The scale is like climbing a rock wall."
While he declined to give specific numbers, he said the orders were in "several thousands".
But it could not cope with the sudden increase in demand then as all delivery slots were taken up, and some deliveries did not arrive at the stipulated time.
"Every minute, we had about 200 people waiting to check out. As a start-up, we are very excited," the spokesman said.
"We are still growing. We are quickly improving our delivery slots. We are working hard to bring our service level up.
"We are doing a lot of backlog and we are fulfilling the orders. We are now back to our normal operation."
Customers can choose from close to 20,000 items from supermarkets such as NTUC FairPrice and Cold Storage, as well as speciality stores like Pet Lovers Centre, Gastronomia, and The Butcher's Dog.
Items are selected by trained personal shoppers with the promise of delivery within an hour of items being picked from the stores.
A similar success is another start-up, Market9, which promises to deliver within three hours of orders being placed.
Market9 is a crowdsourced platform, a community-based service where groceries are delivered by someone in the area or neighbourhood, said its co-founder, Mr Syed Haniff Othman Alkaff, 26.
Customers can shop from across supermarkets like NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong and Giant.
The idea for Market9 was born in January and it was launched in June.
When an order comes in, Market9 broadcasts it to a pool of personal shoppers - currently it has about 200 - who would bid for the order.
Once the order has been picked up, the shopper would head to the nearest supermarket to shop, pay, and deliver the items to the customer.
The shopper will be paid $8 per order fulfilled and any payments made for the groceries will be reimbursed.
At the moment, Market9 is focused on areas in the east of Singapore.
Their rival, honestbee, has more than 600 shoppers stationed at various supermarkets.
Whenever an order comes in, a shopper picks the items, check-outs and passes them to a delivery man who takes them to the customer. The shopper earns up to $14 per hour.
Said the honestbee spokesman: "We provide specialised training to the shoppers to pick the freshest groceries. We shop for dry items first and fresh items last.
"If an item is out of stock, someone will call you to ask if you want it replaced. We will coordinate with the shopper to replace the original. It's as though you're pushing the physical cart in the physical store."
The company is working on a mobile application for customers to place their order.
Market9 also has changes planned, such as extending services to include speciality stores.
"We provide specialised training to the shoppers to pick the freshest groceries... It's as though you're pushing the physical cart in the physical store."
- A spokesman for personal grocery shopping service provider honestbee