‘We don’t always get it right’: Grab Singapore’s managing director on meeting consumer expectations & More News


Change seems to be a constant at Grab. The COVID-19 pandemic threw “a lot of curveballs”, requiring the company to transform from a transport app to a food delivery platform overnight. 

“Just over the last two years, the number of merchants that came on board our platform has increased tremendously. A lot of the merchants see the value of online platform deliveries,” said Mr Yee. 

When Grab first started as a transport app, it was a “two-sided marketplace”, he recalled. 

“And now with food, it’s a three-sided marketplace. It gets a lot more complicated. … There’s always the biggest challenge, which is to balance out. Whatever we do here on one side impacts the other side and the other side may be unhappy, and so it’s always a challenge to try and balance that,” he added. 

“Even with our app, we used to have two apps: Consumer and driver. Now (there is a) consumer, driver and merchant app.” 

But Mr Yee sees data as a way to continue creating affordability and value for consumers, while rewarding their partners enough so they can join the platform.

“That is the hardest question. We listen to both sides. We do a lot of data analysis and try to calculate what’s the right amount when certain prices go up, what’s the right amount for the driver fee, what would we require for our drivers to have a take-home and what is the additional amount we need to put in so that their take-home is not affected,” he said. 

“For drivers, I think it’s easier to estimate or calculate because their earnings are their take-home. We know the cost, the COE going up and rental rates. So we have very good data.”

Where consumers are concerned, “you just need to know at what point they would just drop off the app and just walk out and buy food themselves”, added Mr Yee. 

“As a consumer, it’s about convenience. You’re paying for convenience. If a restaurant is very nearby and you are willing to wait, go and queue up, there must be a value to that. And how do we put that value to the consumer side? But there’s no easy answer.”

Mr Yee highlighted GrabUnlimited, a newly launched subscription package for food delivery, which allows regular users to get a discount on their delivery fee. 

And there is good news for merchants too. The GrabMerchant Centre will expand its merchant support for the Singapore market, announced the company on Thursday.

This support will include “bespoke, one-on-one consultation” for merchants; direct operating assistance, such as how to run their business more efficiently and reduce downtime; and upskilling workshops and networking events for them to mingle and meet other business owners”, shared Mr Yee.  

In light of the small- and medium-size enterprises coming online for the first time during the pandemic, many are now “ready to scale (up) from the deliveries online platform”, he added. 

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