Because it can take me up to 2 hours to cook something that is not instant noodles or canned food, I have not yet reached an adult level where I cook every day of the week . So for now, the chore is reserved only for weekends or a particularly productive weekday.
Abdulrahman Ahmed is a software engineering student who can relate to this. Often taking out, he rarely cooked for himself. But when he did, he found that the servings of ingredients sold in regular grocery stores were too large.
“[They don’t have] consumers like me in the lead, someone who only cooks once or twice every 2 weeks and has to buy more food than I need, ”Abdulrahman told Vulcan Post. This often leads to the throwing of leftover food after going awry.
Therefore, he took it upon himself to develop a service where individuals could shop in smaller portions, thus purchasing only the ingredients in the exact quantities they needed.
The tipping point was a single banana
Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, Abdulrahman came to KL to study at the Asia-Pacific University. Living alone, he sometimes craved home-cooked meals and wherever he could, he took them to take out.
“As Somalis we usually ate chicken or beef. biryani with a banana, ”he shared. “So I always had to spend too much money to buy a whole bunch of bananas when I just needed one. ”
Aggravated, he remembers telling his twin brother, “Why do I have to buy all these bananas I don’t want when I just need one?” I would like there to be a service that allows me to purchase the exact portion of food I need.
This was the trigger for Abdulrahman’s journey to launch the fractional market in October 2021, with half a banana as its logo.
Buy what you need
The Fractional Market Shop page is where customers will purchase portioned groceries. From here you can choose to add items to your cart and specify the weight or quantities of your desired quantity (eg 1 piece of banana or 100g of milk) from a drop-down menu.
The prices are reflected according to the portions you have chosen. The cost of portioned items is determined based on the existing price of the product in grocery stores, with an additional premium on them that serves as a service cost. This is how the fractional market monetizes.
In addition, shipping is free if orders exceed 20 RM. Otherwise it will be RM5.
However, the products listed on Fractional Market are limited, with no meat or frozen items available. When asked, Abdulrahman had a good reason for it.
During his market validation, Abdulrahman realized that people mainly wanted to buy fresh vegetables in smaller quantities because they would spoil faster.
However, the meat could be frozen. So, with meat and other frozen items being lower in priority, Abdulrahman has limited the items on offer, but is ready to add more in the future, and will do so as the business grows.
He doesn’t even have an inventory
Still operating on a tiny scale, the most economical and efficient way to do this is command-to-order. This means that once the order arrives, Abdulrahman will go to the nearest grocery store, purchase the products, split them up internally, and then deliver them to the consumer.
To maintain a level of food security, Abdulrahman, who sometimes ties up his brother, will wear face masks, gloves and cover all of his hair when working with the items.
“The repacking shouldn’t take more than 1 to 2 minutes, as we try to minimize external contact as much as possible,” he added.
Currently repackaged in plastic ziplock bags, Abdulrahman is also exploring greener options, as being environmentally friendly and sustainable is one of the company’s core values. It was also the whole point of the presence of Fractional Market, to hopefully reduce food waste.
Leveraging pop culture
One thing I found interesting about Fractional Market was also their promise to deliver a customer’s groceries within an hour of ordering, given the necessary repackaging. While I haven’t tested this myself, Abdulrahman was actually able to fill his orders within this timeframe.
Indeed, most of his current clients are neighbors of his apartment complex.
Being young, he also had some interesting marketing ideas that took advantage of pop culture. 2 weeks after the site launched, Squid Game was the talking point of the city.
So Abdulrahman and his brother made cards that looked like the ones in the show and left them on their neighbors’ doorsteps.
He printed 100 pieces and spent 2 hours cutting them into shape. He then woke up at 4:30 a.m. the next day and spent over an hour wandering around the building, selectively leaving cards outside the doors that featured the most shoes.
“For me, that meant there were more potential customers obtained by card,” Abdulrahman said. And out of the 100 cards distributed, Fractional Market recorded around 70 new visits to the site. (Well, thank goodness these cards weren’t an entry for Squid Games IRL.)
Although he did not see explosive results, he reported that he now receives 1 to 2 orders per day on average.
Will it work on a large scale?
For me, Fractional Market and the way it’s run now can work on a smaller scale when there aren’t many customers. If demand increases, however, a larger team would be needed to manage preparation and delivery.
So, I had to survey its founder on his longevity plan for Fractional Market.
“It’s a business that would benefit greatly from scale,” he envisioned. With more users, more data will be present on customer requests, which in turn will be valuable information for the team in managing their inventory that Abdulrahman also hopes to develop.
“I think this company has great potential and if I am able to weather the storm of the early days I can manage the growth from there.”
As he says, there is potential for demand growth, but it is likely that he will need to automate some processes in the future to meet increased demand.
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Of course, Malaysia has stores for buying portioned groceries: bulk stores. But from our previous analysis, we found that they cater primarily to the wealthy, which is less accessible for those who need to portion groceries cheaply.
Therefore, Fractional Market solves a small but effective problem that can help less privileged people looking for smaller portions when shopping at the grocery store. They include groups like college students and single households.
- You can find out more about the fractional market here.
- You can read more stories related to zero waste here.
Image Credit Featured: Abdulrahman Ahmed, Founder of Fractional Market
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