Southeast Asian Grocery Wars: RedMart vs. HonestBee vs. HappyFresh


In today’s busy, fast moving lives we have come to expect a certain level of instant gratification. And this applies to our grocery shopping as well. With the rise of e-commerce across Asia, grocery shopping can now be done online, further easing consumer experience and consumer demand for an ever more convenient and instant lifestyle.

In Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, for example, where there is a rising middle class and lots of young professionals, e-commerce habits are becoming a part of daily life. These countries are known for having busy metros round the clock, which heightens the dependence on digitalization. As a result, many online shops have emerged to address the growing needs of the citizens.

Online grocery services have been gaining popularity across Southeast Asia. While traditional brick-and-mortar grocery stalls are still practical, many residents find online grocery shopping an efficient way to make the most out of their busy schedules. Moreover, online grocery shopping also allows them to maximize their budgets with substantial deals.

Furthermore, most people in these countries do not have their own cars; their primary mode of transportation is via taxis, buses, and transits, which is why grocery delivery services save them from the hassle of having to commute and carry huge grocery bags. There are numerous grocery start-ups in Southeast Asia but the most popular ones include RedMart, HonestBee, and HappyFresh.

About RedMart

Founded by Roger Egan, Vikram Rupani, and Rajesh Lingappa in 2011, RedMart is committed to making grocery shopping faster and more accessible for today’s consumers in Singapore. It does not just provide a wide variety of items; RedMart also provides massive discounts and promotions every now and then. Nearly five years after its establishment, the grocery shop already has about 35,000 items in stock.

Some of its leading partners include Garena, SoftBank Ventures Korea, Visionnaire Ventures, LionRock Capital, Golden Gate Ventures, Northstar, Cast Ventures, Ambient Sound Investments, and Far East Ventures. RedMart also has a reliable advisory team composed of notable professionals who are faithful to always improve the services that the clients receive.

About HonestBee

HonestBee’s services are specifically compelling. While most online grocery shops only deliver from a single inventory, Singapore-based HonestBee allows users to choose from various stores in a single order and/or delivery. Its shoppers are trained to pick every customer’s goods to ensure that all items are fresh and of the best quality-a service the company touts often.

Presently, HonestBee serves the nearby countries of Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. For a company established in 2015, the expansion of HonestBee is escalating quickly. Late last year, the organization, founded by Joel Sng, Isaac Tay, and Jonathan Low received a $15-million funding from five investors.

About HappyFresh

Founded in Indonesia in 2014, HappyFresh is one of today’s fastest growing e-commerce grocery service providers. Having been around for just about two years, it already operates and serves in surrounding countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand. Presently, HappyFresh continues to seek expansion as it aims to become the biggest online grocery service provider in the Southeast Asian region.

HappyFresh already has more than 30 supermarkets in its network with more than 100,000 grocery items in its inventories. It also has trained shoppers who handpick every order to guarantee that only the best options reach the doors of its clients.

Delivery Services

With RedMart, customers can order grocery items anytime and anywhere using their mobile phone apps or through the website. As soon as they finish placing their orders in the cart, they can expect their groceries to be delivered within their chosen two-hour time slot. RedMart takes pride in its accuracy and timeliness as it operates seven times a week from 7 am to 10 pm.

HonestBee, on the other hand, has a one-hour time slot. Should a customer wish to change it, he or she just need to send an email to the customer care team. The new time slot shall be at least two hours ahead of the initial delivery time. Otherwise, a rescheduling fee of $15 shall be imposed. HonestBee also offers free delivery services for orders worth $30 and above. For transactions worth less than $30, a $10 delivery is imposed. Operating hours are from 11 am to 10 pm everyday, including weekends and holidays.

Meanwhile, HappyFresh can deliver orders within just an hour following completion. Customers can also select a one-hour time slot, depending on their preferences. The delivery hours vary on the operating hours of the partner grocery stores. However, the usual hours are around 10 am to 10 pm. For all delivery slots, the delivery charge costs IDR 20,000 on top of the customer’s bill.

Payment Methods

At RedMart, the payment options available include MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and PayPal. The company guarantees the safety of every consumer by protecting the information provided, as stated in RedMart’s Security and Privacy Policy.

In terms of payment, HonestBee ensures to protect the interests of its customers. The payments for every transaction are only deducted from one’s account after the items have been delivered safely to the doors of the customer. HonestBee accepts payments from MasterCard, Visa, and American Express credit and/or debit cards.

Likewise, HappyFresh accepts payments via major credit and/or debit cards. Cash transactions are also accepted. Customers will receive their e-receipts via email once their orders have been delivered. Like typical restaurants, HappyFresh charges cards temporary bills that are higher than the actual price of goods to account for other charges (i.e. items which price depend on the weight). The final amount of charges will reflect in a customer’s bank statement within three to seven days following the delivery.

Return and Refund Policies

RedMart customers are entitled to a seven-day return should they not be completely satisfied with the products they received. For cancellation of orders, a customer should inform the customer service desk at least 24 hours before the scheduled delivery for a full refund. However, orders can no longer be cancelled once they have been processed.

HonestBee also allows customers to submit their cancellation requests at least two hours prior the scheduled delivery to receive a 100% refund. Otherwise, they will be charged a $15 cancellation fee.

HappyFresh customers who are not 100% satisfied with their orders or feel like there is something wrong or missing with the items delivered to them, they can reject the particular items right at their doorstep. However, once the items have been accepted, they can no longer be returned. Similarly, once orders have been placed, they can no longer be cancelled. However, customers can report their feedback using a link that comes along with the e-receipt.

Special Deals and Promotions

RedMart, HonestBee, and HappyFresh offer discount coupons that can be used when checking out. Occasionally, some items are also marked down with their daily deals and special promotions.

For first-timers, RedMart entitles customers with a free delivery for their first purchases worth $30 and above. Daily deals are also offered exclusively for new customers. HonestBee, on the other hand, offers free grocery items worth $12 for first time customers who place first time orders worth at least $100.

Out of Stock Items

While all three online grocery delivery service providers offer all products ranging from beauty and hygiene items to all kinds of food products, it cannot be avoided that some items get out of stock at times.

With RedMart, customers can choose to be notified should a particular item is out of stock. This is ideal for grocery items that have a huge demand; hence the frequency of unavailability. However, if a customer has an item in his or her cart that is out of stock at the moment of checkout, he or she will have to remove it before being able to complete the process.

Meanwhile, HonestBee deals with item availability in a different way. With the replacement option feature, customers are asked to choose brand alternatives should a particular item not be available when the shoppers purchase their groceries. If both first and second options are not available during the purchase, the personal shoppers will contact the customers via text message or phone call to detail out other alternatives for approval. Should the customers not respond within five minutes, the particular items will automatically be removed from their carts.

HappyFresh, on the other hand, also allows customers to indicate specific replacement options after checkout. To help customers determine whether they have to specify alternative items, HappyFresh marks items that are usually out of stock with an “often out of stock” label.

Customer Support

Customer support is another vital aspect when it comes to the e-commerce industry. There is a need for clients to reach the help desks 24/7 to raise their concerns. It is what makes any business particularly competitive. In line with this, RedMart, HonestBee, and HappyFresh offers 24/7 customer support via email, live chat, mobile phones, and telephones. As a result, customers get the help they need as soon as possible, making the experience more user-centered and user-friendly.