Potboy Groceries held its second 50% storewide sale on 11 December 2021. We had a chance to observe first hand how this penned out in one of the 50 stores Potboy operates across the Klang Valley region that day.
Potboy started out as an online only grocery store in 2016 selling everyday groceries from known household brands on its platform www.potboy.com.my. It moved into the exhibition space with Malaysia’s first online to offline sale in 2018 to showcase offline retailing to online customers. Since then, it has opened 50 brick-and-mortar outlets mainly in the Klang Valley with the first one at TTDI.
The promotion-driven Potboy held its first round of 50% storewide discount in November 2021 with huge publicity and reception but also negativity surrounding the lack of crowd control.
On 11 December 2021, the rule of the game was changed where only 5 individuals would be permitted to enter the outlet on a given session. The allocated shopping time did not include the time taken to process the payment. But the key problem remained. Potboy did not impose a limit on the number of items each buyer could purchase. At most outlets including the ones we visited, the first 10 buyers bought most all of the popular and expensive items on shelves including powdered Milo, edible oil, rice and alcoholic drinks.
For us, it was a spectacle of human greed on full display on the early hours of 11 December 2021. These buyers, where some had waited since 3am, were not wrong because they played by the rules. But for those turned up late, they missed the opportunity to enjoy the deep discounts for the highly sought after products.
For Potboy, the 50% sale helps to deepen the image of Potboy as the destination for deep discounting of essential items. For that, the generous 50% sale had done the trick.
Potboy challenges the existing chains like 99Speedmart on price and the convenience of fulfillment through online delivery. The power of Potboy lies in the way it encourages consumers to purchase in bulk. However, the question is the sustainablity of such a business model.