Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Oct 19, 2015

Honestbee expands grocery service to Hong Kong

HONG KONG - After three months of operations in Singapore, tech startup Honestbee has launched its on-demand concierge grocery delivery service in Hong Kong, with Taiwan and Japan being next in line.

Head of products Isaac Tay and CEO Joel Sng
Head of products Isaac Tay and CEO Joel Sng

The company offers one-stop-shopping on the its website, and roving concierges who shop on behalf of customers and deliver the groceries to their doorsteps within one-hour delivery windows.

Why the name Honestbee? "Firstly, we want to do business honestly," said Shane Chiang, VP and head of marketing and communications. "Secondly, we are just hardworking creatures, like bees." While the name is not terribly relevant to groceries or supermarkets, unlike fellow startups MySnappyCart, RedMart or HappyFresh, the plan is to expand Honestbee's delivery business beyond groceries in the future, Chiang said.

"Time is something everybody does not have enough of," he said. "We wanted to find a way to help solve that time-crunch problem. Even if supermarkets are just a few steps away, it takes at least four hours [at least in Singapore] to shop for the whole week."

For starters, and to uphold its one-hour turnaround promise, Honestbee will limit its initial delivery areas to Central and Mid-Levels in Hong Kong, and its premium grocery partners to Anything But Salads, Liquor & Liqueur, Gateway Supermarket and Great Food Hall. 

It's unknown whether Honestbee will partner with mainstream supermarkets like ParknShop and Wellcome, which already offer online shopping on their own. New partners will be announced over the next year, said Honestbee co-founder and CEO Joel Sng. 

Honestbee's value proposition, like its peers, is convenience and time saved, though Chiang pointed out that its business model is based on the sharing economy concept. "We’re not putting the traditional supermarkets out of business," he said. "Instead of them setting up an infrastructure for online retail, we’re helping them be the middleman and their 'new best friends' as another retail channel. We actually help use up the supermarkets’ inventory."

Direct marketing via sponsored social-media (Facebook, Line, WeChat, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) posts and search-engine optimisation will help the startup get customers, with minimal effort on above-the-line activities (apart from "one or two small ads in the papers" and "shopping mall events").


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