99 Old Trees Durian Delivery Service - A fully transparent process
99 Old Trees started out as a pure durian delivery service company in late 2017
A brief history about us
Many customers did not know this, but 99 Old Trees really started out as a 100% durian delivery service only during our beginning days.
We started in late 2017, launching our website www.99oldtrees.com
Customers would place their orders via our website and we'll deliver their durians the next day.
Back then, we did not have a physical shop in Singapore. And guess where we packed our durians? Yup, you are right, all the way in Raub district, at Fook Gor Durian Farm itself. (Fook Gor durian farm is our very own farm located in Raub, west Pahang).
The durians are picked daily from around 5.30am till 8am. The durians are quickly sorted and graded and sent to a small processing facility located 5 minutes away from our farm in Sungei Klau.
They are then weighed, dehusked, and packed in vacuum-packed boxes.
We had to rush the packing process in order to catch the lorry leaving Raub at 10.30am. Everyday it was a mad, but fulfilling rush.
The durian lorry will leave Raub around 10.30am or latest 11am for Singapore.
Usually, without a jam, the lorry will arrive cross the causeway by 4pm to 5pm. We will receive our stocks in Jurong and I will be doing the last mile delivery to our customers from 6pm till 10pm.
Why we decided to set up a physical store in Singapore?
The decision to set up a physical shop came after we had a few incidents when the durian lorry got stuck in a jam at the customs.
Sometimes, the jam can get really bad and we'll receive our stocks at only 8pm.
We then had to call up all our customers and apologise to them profusely to seek their understanding and hope that they will be gracious enough to receive the stocks.
Sometimes, we weren't that lucky. Some customers will ask to cancel their orders because they were ordering for a private party and the durians were no good being delivered late. We understood their concerns and had to absorb the costs.
As the business grew, we are more and more exposed to this risks. And so we made the decision to open a physical shop and never looked back.
A fully transparent & comprehensive Durian Delivery Service in Singapore
As more and more people are beginning to shop online, many durian vendors have also jumped onto the bandwagon and added durian home delivery as part of their service provided.
And in this current Covid crisis, offering delivery is not just to offer convenience to our customers, it is an absolute necessity for survival.
Many customers do not trust online durian sellers.
There are also many vendors who partner with established e-commerce platform such as Q10 and Lazada and list in their products on these platforms.
However, durian delivery does come with its own set of problems.
1. Many customers still do not trust online durian vendors.
In our experience, many customers still do not trust online durian sellers.
Many cite weight cheating as a primary concern.
Some customers I have personally asked told me their experience that when they order from the shop physically, the nett weight of the durians are consistently more than those ordered online.
The Facebook post on the left was posted by a disgruntled customer. You can click into the post to understand more.
These fears are not unfounded.
2. It's just too easy to cheat
Now, to be absolutely fair, as a durian retailer ourselves, we must say that it is really easy for people like us to cheat (if we want to).
Who's gonna watch us during the packing process?
What's stopping us from siphoning off a seed or two from each durian? How will you ever find out? You won't.
The truth is, it's just too easy and tempting for us to cheat. It will take someone with an extremely high morale standing not be tempted when put in a position like this.
3. So does 99 Old Trees cheat on weight?
But the answer is an outright no. We'll never do that. We've got too much skin in the game to even think about that.
If ever we get caught, even just once, it's game over in this era of social media.
We won't risk it. Never!
But it's my words against yours. How to prove it?
4. So how does 99 Old Trees prevent ourselves from cheating?
In order for us to be perfectly transparent, we introduced a Nett Flesh Weight model. Meaning, you will be told explicitly, the nett flesh weight that will be given, at a fixed price.
The price or quantity will be adjusted along the season according to durian price fluctuation.
The average durian Flesh to Gross weight ratio (FG ratio) is around 28% for Mao Shan Wang. Meaning to say, if the whole durian (with husks) weighs 1kg, you should be expecting around 280grams of flesh on average.
FG ratio differs from cultivar to cultivar.
Currently, we pack our MSW in packs of 560gram (small pack) and 880gram (large pack). 880gram will come from a gross weight of around 3kg.
Individual durian differs widely in its flesh to gross weight ratio. I have encountered case where the FG ratio is a whopping 38%. But such cases are rare.
There are also cases where the ratio is only 18%, especially those elongated shaped Mao Shan Wang.
But customers should take note: FG ratio does differ from season to season. All else equal, a ripe durian weighs lesser than an unripe one.
We will adjust the ratio according to the season variance. As we process tonnes of durians in our facility in Raub, we will know what the FG ratio is on a daily basis.
5. I don't believe in your FG ratio
Sure, we understand that there will still be sceptics. In such cases, you can always head down to our outlet to purchase physically. Our guys will weigh and dehusk the durians in full view.
In special cases where you require us to pack before hand, we will try our best to video record the whole process for your referencing. There will be no cuts to the video to ensure 100% transparency.
6. Exploring technologies to help prevent cheating cases
We are currently exploring some technologies like dynamic CCTVs, that can be integrated into our packing procedures.
Our goal is to make transparent, every step of our packing process to set our customers' minds at ease. Once we found that piece of tech, you can trust us to deploy it immediately.
The most accessible technology so far that we can deploy, is Facebook Live. We are currently simulating and testing different scenarios. We are in the midst of ironing out some teething issues. Once done, we will do a trial during the upcoming main season in May 2020.
We'll update real soon.
Durian delivery, like any other delivery, should be made convenient for customers in Singapore. The issue of quality and trust should not stand in the way.
But this is easier said than done.
In practise, it involves ripping up some of our established SOPs, and will require a whole total working style with a strong guiding hand.
But rest assured, we're on it!