Views and Visions: Group buys Part 1

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Once every fortnight, my friend Audrey has at least a few hundred eggs delivered to her doorstep. They sit neatly in trays, arranged according to weight and type. As you may have guessed, not all of them are for her family. After checking that the order has been correctly filled, she snaps a picture and sends it off with a text message: “Eggs are ready for collection!” The message is to neighbours in her block and a few blocks of flats nearby. The group of about 70 households keeps in touch via a group chat on the WhatsApp messaging app. They take turns to host regular group buys — mass orders of anything ranging from frozen food to fresh bread. Everyone benefits from splitting the delivery costs. Sometimes they even get bulk-order discounts. Audrey started hosting the group buy for eggs shortly after the pandemic struck. Instead of going to the market or supermarket, which could get very crowded, she ordered her eggs directly from a vendor, who delivered them to her doorstep. Audrey asked her neighbours if they would like to tag on their orders, and many expressed an interest. It has been more than a year since Audrey started doing this, and she has now developed her own protocol for a fuss-free group buy. Her neighbours text her their orders, and she keys in the data on a spreadsheet before placing an order with the vendor. Upon delivery, she pays the vendor via bank transfer. Her neighbours transfer their own payments to her after collecting their eggs from her doorstep. (Tan Ying Zhen) To be continued… This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

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