LESS IS MORE WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCT PACKAGING.
Last year, packaging materials formed one third of the 1.67 million tonnes of domestic waste generated in Singapore. Besides placing strain on the environment, this surfeit of materials eats into a company’s bottom line.
Florence Tay, owner and co-founder of zero-waste grocery store Unpackt, believes that businesses are not the only party that stand to gain from shedding excess packaging materials. Consumers, too, get to make purchases at a lower price point. At Unpackt, 2g of bay leaves retail at 10 cents, while the same amount is sold for $4 at supermarkets. “Shoppers ask if I have priced my goods wrongly as they are so cheap,” says the 36-year-old. In a market dominated by price-sensitive consumers, the ability to offer quality goods at a reduced price puts Unpackt in an advantageous position.
While her business enjoys economies of scale by purchasing supplies in bulk, she has had to tweak her retail operations to ensure that edible products remain fresh at the point of purchase. “We’ve downsized our (display) containers and we top them up more frequently,” says Tay, who forecasts the demand for each product before pacing the replenishment rate accordingly.
It’s laborious, but all that effort has paid off . Backed by the support of a loyal customer base, Unpackt has managed to double its product mix in a span of seven months. Last month, it opened a second outlet at OUE Downtown Gallery.
Next on Tay’s agenda is the retail of highly perishable goods such as milk and yogurt – two products demanded by customers. “We have a cow and goat farm in Singapore. If we can revive the old milkman system, we can save quite a fair amount of milk bottles,” says Tay. However, given stringent food safety regulations in Singapore, realising this pint-sized dream will require more than just a throwback to nostalgia.
TEXT DENISE KOK PHOTOGRAPHY DARREN CHANG ART DIRECTION DENISE REI LOW CHAIR FUGU CHAIR AVAILABLE AT ATOMI