Agrome Market’s online store has enabled the greengrocer to maintain sales during the pandemic despite closing their doors to customer walk-ins during the ongoing second wave of COVID-19.

Agrome Market stopped customer walk-ins the same week the partial lockdown was announced on August 7 and 9. They converted their storefront at the Beribi Industrial Park fully into a fulfillment center instead, channeling sales through which they launched during the first wave of COVID-19 in April last year.

The decision to maintain their online store after they opened their first storefront in October last year has enabled Agrome Market to avoid any decrease in sales after the second outbreak, said its founder Vanessa Teo.

“We peaked at around 100 orders a day (since the second wave) which we either deliver to customers’ homes or have them pick it up outside the store,” she said.

“This arrangement is under our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and enables our staff to operate safely. As most of our products are considered essentials (fruit and vegetables) sales has been consistent (compared to before the second wave) and for some periods there has even been an increase.”

Agrome Market is the retail arm of the agritech startup Agrome IQ, who focus on providing smart farming solutions and training to local farmers.

Agrome Market stocks over 50 types of fruits and vegetables as well as healthier options of packaged food including locally made sauces and imported cereal, drinks and snacks. Customers make payment after placing online orders either through bank transfer or cash on delivery.

Orders on the website are fulfilled in under two days, with a delivery fee of $5 for Brunei-Muara and $8 for other districts, regardless of order size.

Vanessa shared that they have also stopped offering freshly baked items and brewed coffee from other small businesses until the pandemic subsides.

Agrome Market’s local supply comes from 20 different farmers, including aggregators or distributors who collect local produce from different farmers to supply in bulk. Vanessa said individual farmers are also welcome to sell their produce to Agrome Market on a consignment basis and subject to quality checks.

“Generally we don’t limit the type of produce they can supply, different varieties are welcome. However we do share with them the type of produce that is most demanded by customers,” she added.

Agrome Market currently employs eight Bruneians, a third who currently help deliver orders. Vanessa also outsources deliveries to freelance runners when demand incases.