SINGAPORE: NTUC FairPrice will increase its online capacity by 30 per cent in the coming weeks and will reinstate a service fee for all online orders.
In a media release on Thursday (Apr 16), FairPrice announced that a service fee of S$3.99 will be applied to all online orders from 8pm on Thursday.
Online orders have surged during the "circuit breaker" period, with people urged to stay at home as much as possible to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
READ: Family members of Pioneer Generation may buy discounted groceries at FairPrice on their behalf during COVID-19 circuit breaker
The service fee was first introduced in early March, said FairPrice, but was waived after.
“We adopt a transparent pricing approach - there are no hidden mark-ups on products themselves as our online platform maintains uniform prices with our brick-and-mortar stores," said FairPrice Group CEO Seah Kian Peng.
According to Mr Seah, the service fee only partially covers the total costs of processing, picking, and packing online grocery orders.
"This fixed token fee of $3.99 is a subsidised rate considering the costs involved in processing grocery products which involve cold chain management, transportation for bulk goods, manpower and stringent food safety and quality measures," FairPrice said.
A multi-tiered delivery fee structure will also be introduced "to provide more flexibility for shoppers to vary their basket sizes and optimise savings for their online purchases, making online groceries accessible to more households", it added.
FairPrice said that in the past two months, it has "invested heavily" to upgrade its online grocery infrastructure, and hired and trained about 150 members of staff to become skilled pickers and packers.
This resulted in an increase in the number of delivery slots available for online customers by 25 per cent.
READ: COVID-19: FairPrice expands purchase limits to include cooking oil, canned products; further caps on sales of toilet paper, poultry
In the coming weeks, FairPrice said it would continue to hire more people and further increase its online capacity by another 30 per cent, by converting a brick-and-mortar FairPrice store into another dedicated fulfilment centre for online orders, among various other activities.
The availability of delivery slots for orders will also be reworked due to the almost threefold surge in visits to FairPrice's website over the past two months.
Previously, slots were quickly taken up when released, leaving many customers with no opportunity to order their daily essentials, said FairPrice.
"To help mitigate this, delivery slots are released throughout the day to offer more opportunities for online customers to place their orders," it said.
PLEDGE TO DONATE S$500,000
FairPrice announced a pledge to donate to five organisations in need - Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, Metta Welfare Association, Assisi Hospice, Touch Community Services and Food from the Heart.
FairPrice Foundation will match the S$3.99 service fee for all online orders and donate up to S$500,000 to the five organisations.
“FairPrice continues to invest in our online grocery service to ensure more families in our community are able to have access to their daily essentials," said Mr Seah.
"As the COVID-19 situation impacts our lives, it is important also to look out for one another, especially those who may be most affected. We galvanise the community to share in our efforts to do good and play a part for the community."