A few weeks ago, we shared the first half of our Q&A session with the Head of Commercial for Direct Import at Dairy Farm International (DFI) Retail Group (Cold Storage Singapore) during Fine Food 2023. In the first half, we covered key insights including:
- Consumers’ high level of cultural awareness
- The food and beverage categories presenting the strongest growth prospects
- Key and growing supplier nations for food and beverage products
- And, the importance of in-store promotional activities.
With that said, let’s take a look at part two of the Q&A session now!
Q&A Session Insights
Question 5: You mention that you directly import some brands, and others through a consolidation partner. What is the process of that?
Currently in Australia alone I manage between 8-10 vendors. 8 of the brands I manage are a direct-owner relationship, whilst the other 2 vendors are partner consolidators, who carry multiple brands.
Whether I deal with a brand owner or consolidator, I base my decision on the following:
- If I can fill a container, I will buy directly from the brand owner.
- If I cannot fill a container because of the cost or very niche, I will use my partner consolidator
The process begins with me reviewing the brand to determine its suitability. If I elect to work directly with the brand owner, all day-to-day communication will be with me. I will also be in charge of payment and vendor account administration. However, if I introduce you to my partner consolidator, they will become your primary point of contact. They will manage payments, and I will assist them as needed.
The next step in the process is to provide pricing. Additionally, you will also need to provide me with sales ranking of your SKUs so that I may analyse which products are likely to be the best sellers, using this as a benchmark.
Once these SKUs are confirmed, I will forward them to my Quality Assurance team, who will thoroughly inspect all of the products to ensure they are suitable for import into the Singapore market. Singapore has stringent laws; for example, we cannot import products with hemp or poppy seeds.
Question 6: If the suppliers deal directly with Cold Storage, what do you expect in return?
In the case of direct indent, there are no listing fees. This approach typically results in the best pricing arrangements. Through my 16 years at the company I have grown many brands. However, it’s important for you, as a brand owner, to provide support as well. Even when working through a consolidator, it is imperative to discuss the promotional support you can provide as we do run advertisements weekly.
I’ve mentioned exclusivity several times, and we strongly encourage it whenever possible. When we enter into an exclusive agreement, we work closely with the brand to execute a variety of promotional activities aimed at increasing the visibility, success and growth of your brand.
Question 7: What are the biggest challenges and barriers for Australian food and beverage exporters seeking to enter the Singapore market?
When we initially assess a brand, we need to determine whether there is sufficient shelf space available. As a result, it is important for a supplier to present their best price and for us to determine whether this price is reasonable. Following this, I will then calculate the landed cost, factoring in freight etc. Oftentimes, pricing is a barrier to entry for many suppliers.
In addition, when I review pricing, I consider two factors; minimum order quantity and shelf life. In terms of shelf life, I analyse the shelf life of products from the time of production to the arrival in Singapore. Typically, I aim to secure products with at least 80% of their shelf life remaining.
Question 8: Now that everyone has an understanding of Cold Storage and how it operates, how do suppliers actually work with you?
When there is a brand that I believe can meet the minimum order quantity, fill an entire container, and engage in an exclusive partnership, I have the capacity to work directly with them. However, with a direct brand owner relationship, it is important for suppliers to understand that there is a lot of work to be done.
Not only will I be your main contact, you will also need to work directly with my colleague who will assist in handling various tasks. Working directly includes creating vendor and new item accounts, as well as coordinating the launch of your products. As mentioned above, we will need adequate promotional support.
On the other hand, if I direct you to our partner consolidator, all the orders and payment is managed through them, streamlining the process.
We hope you’ve found these insights on the Singaporean market helpful. As always, if you’ve got any questions or want to discuss export opportunities for your company, feel free to drop us a line at Export Connect – we’d love to hear from you.