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Business Advice

Bakery chucks out paper catalogues

By launching an electronic version running on in-store tablets, the Swee Heng Bakery chain can add new creations instantly to its list.
The Straits Times - October 31, 2012
By: Tan Chong Yaw
| More
Bakery chucks out paper catalogues Swee Heng Bakery general manager Jason Ng holding a Samsung Galaxy Tab on which the chain's electronic catalogue is displayed. The tablets are secured on stands in each of the 20 outlets for customers to browse. -- ST PHOTO: TAN CHONG YAW

After years of crumpled paper and manually updating its cake catalogues monthly, the Swee Heng Bakery chain has gone digital.

No longer does the company need to wait for enough updates on its products - its catalogues sometimes extended to 200 pages of designs over three to four files - before sending out stacks of paper to its 20 outlets across Singapore.

Any new appetising creation is now added wirelessly - and instantly.

"It used to take two to three days to update the catalogues; now it's done at the push of a button at our headquarters," said Mr Jason Ng, the bakery chain's general manager.

The electronic catalogue, launched this month, is now in every outlet of the bakery's chain.

It is run on Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablets, each with a 10.1-inch display. The gadget is mounted, with an anti-theft cable, on a stand for customers to browse.

The tablets are logged onto the secure Wi-Fi networks in each outlet and linked to the chain's headquarters at Senoko Crescent.

Big display for cake designs

Each cake is now exhibited in its full palatable glory on the large screen rather than having to share display space with three other cakes on a coloured photocopied page.

Details, such as minimum weight for an order and pricing, are now on the same screen.

"The tablet screen makes our cake designs look more attractive.

"Even the aunties have learnt to use the tablet despite the device being new to them," observed Mr Ng, 37.

The company also has a website, which was launched earlier this year, and a Facebook page, which it started last year.

The electronic catalogue system was developed by local app development company B-Secure Technologies. The $38,000 package included the development of an Android app and content management system, hardware and installation of anti-theft display showcases.

The project, which took two months to complete, could have been done in one month but "we were busy with the Mid-Autumn Festival", explained Mr Ng.

Small first shop

The family business began almost 23 years ago in a small 650 sq m shop - a little larger than a shoe-box apartment - at Yuhua Village, an HDB neighbourhood centre in Jurong East. That original shop is still in operation.

Three years later, a second shop opened in Choa Chu Kang. The company opened its most recent branch in the National University Hospital (NUH) this year.

All the cakes and most of the work for the bread are done in the company's 15,000 sq ft factory at Senoko Crescent.

The factory operates round the clock with a crew of about 70 working in shifts. The rest of the bakery chain's 200 employees are in the outlets.

The company is continually introducing new products to its repertoire of about 1,000 items of pastries and bread, which include polo egg tarts and fresh durian buns. Newer products include tiramisu, mousse and Taiwanese-style steamed cakes.

Swee Heng Bakery's bestseller is not found in the digital catalogue though and it is not a cake.

"It's a traditional product - our six-piece bun set with tau sar (red bean) filling.

"Satisfying and great value at $2," said Mr Ng.

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