Gig Economy: Encountering drama and queue experts in the line for baking supplies

The Straits Times | John Lui

SINGAPORE – You meet the most interesting people waiting in line for baking goods.

There is Ms Do You Hear The People Sing. Ejected after she was caught sneaking in line without a queue number, she delivers a two-minute speech audible to everyone in the line – and, I think, to people in the next building – about how our system had failed her and everyone in it. She exits, stage left.

Under social distancing rules, only ten persons are allowed in the store and another ten in the queue. The rest have to wait for a text message allowing them into the line. It is a decently long wait. People get upset. They cheat. They are ready to revolt.

After a short intermission, Ms Sing is back for part deux. In my head, she is Jean Valjean from Les Miserables: She wanted bread, but found injustice. She makes another rousing call to arms, but I guess no one feels like joining her at the barricades, so she leaves.

It has been extraordinarily busy at all RedMan and Phoon Huat baking product stores during the circuit breaker period. Stuck at home, visions of homemade rustic loaves and brioches danced in everyone’s heads. Mine included. Two weeks ago, I baked bread for the first time in a decade. And I absolutely did take and share pictures of it. I’m not a psychopath.

My heart sinks when Ms Sing appears a third time, here on a Saturday morning at the RedMan store at Heartbeat @ Bedok where I am helping to control traffic.

With theatrically deep regret, she informs me – and everyone within a 10m radius – to delete her name from the waitlist because she could no longer tolerate the mistreatment of honest citizens. I write her wish on a sheet of paper, using slightly larger arm movements so people in the back can see.

She finishes singing the song of angry men and leaves. For the last time, I hope. I am not sure I can take another rendition. Just my luck, Mr Zero Stars For You takes over. He has deliberately parked himself within earshot of me.

He is the Asian Parent of grumblers. He doesn’t shout. He is not angry, just disappointed. He quietly lists the areas where I have been found wanting as an employee and as a human being.

“Alamak. Look at that woman in there, taking her sweet time. No shopping list, just walking rooound and rooound,” he says, stretching the “round” in a singsong way that implies that she is lingering on purpose just to annoy him.

“You should chase her out. But you don’t want to. That’s your problem. Are you sure there are 10 people inside? I see eight. Did you check? Don’t you want to count?” he goes on.

I get an hour of this. He is my impostor syndrome given a voice. He is my anxiety internal monologue. Just before I reach the depths of despair, his number is called and he leaves to join the physical queue. Tonight I will dream of being called to the principal’s office.

Here at the RedMan store, there is a fairly simple queue system in place. Leave your mobile number, then wait for the text that tells you to join the line.

As luck would have it, Mr Zero Stars For You is only one of several queue-system scientists in line today. What are the odds that such a collection of experts would be in the same place at the same time?

They catch my eye and shake their heads and go tsk tsk, then tell me gravely that if their expertise had been sought before all this, there would be no waiting at all. Plus, world hunger will be abolished and all single persons will find true love.

The store opens at 10am but when I show up at 8.30am, staff are already there, tidying and restocking. Fresh stock arrives from the warehouse. There are cheeses and milk to be put away. And almonds.

Bakers, we need to talk about this almond business. I can handle sorting the packs by weight. But almonds come in blanched and unblanched, varied by whether they are whole, diced, sliced and, if I remember, subcategorised into unmassaged or massaged, then further sorted by Swedish, Shiatsu and Thai. Why? What unholy compendium of recipes are you using that is causing me to stare at a shelf for minutes wondering where a pack should go?

Anyway, I have to look the part of a RedMan employee and it fools some people. A customer shows me a sheet with “feuilletine” on it. I’m busy with almonds so I want to tell him, “sorry, she doesn’t work here any more,” but I think better of it so I ask my trainer for the day, the very patient and sweet Ms Lody Austria, the store supervisor.

As it turns out, feuilletine is a baking, er, thingy. Throughout the day, Ms Austria, an avid baker herself, as employees here tend to be, is not only a guide but also a dispenser of baking advice – yeast can be used past its expiration date if frozen, so no worries buying the bulk pack if you can’t get a small package. Milk with a few drops of lemon juice is a substitute for buttermilk, for example.

I head home just after lunch. I am happy for the experience because after working from home for the last three months, I miss being around people. Checking my smart watch’s health app, I see my resting heart rate has gone up, from its usual 70 beats per minute to 90.

Being around people is great, but being around Singaporeans in a queue? I like helping people, but I don’t think my heart can handle the drama.

Link to article:

Phoon Huat Shoppers Can Now Enter Everyday, Odd/Even Entry System Removed On 2 Jun

Must Share News | 3 Jun 2020, 11:16 am

Over the course of the ‘Circuit Breaker’, many Singaporeans have picked up baking as their new hobby to pass the time.

Yet, getting baking supplies during the period proved to be somewhat of a challenge, thanks to long queues and higher demand, among a myriad of other reasons.

Well, if you’re planning on baking yourself some delicious bread or pastries this weekend, you might be in for some good news.

As we enter Phase 1 of reopening, popular baking supplies store Phoon Huat announced via a Facebook post on Tuesday (2 Jun) that it will be doing away with its ddd/even dates requirement.

In the Facebook post, Phoon Huat said the decision to abolish the system was due to shorter queues and the “easing up” of the current situation.

Despite the removal, they urge customers to follow other safe distancing measures so their store remains safe for everyone.

These include shopping alone, keeping shopping time to under 10 minutes and scanning of SafeEntry QR code before entering their store premises.

All of its outlets are open from 10am-7pm. Check out the nearest store near you via the website here.

Introduced entry restriction based on last digit of NRIC/FIN Earlier last month, Phoon Huat – as well as its subsidiary, Redman – introduced the ddd/even dates entry system in early May that only allowed access to shoppers according to the last digit of their NRIC/FIN.

The measure was aimed at cutting down the long lines seen outside the stores.

The removal of the Odd/Even Dates entry restriction at Phoon Huat will certainly come as great news for Circuit Bakers who picked up baking during the 2-month ‘Circuit Breaker’.

That said, please adhere to the measures put in place by the store to help keep everyone safe

Link to article:

Where has all the flour gone? Shops struggle to restock fast enough amid circuit breaker baking frenzy

The Straits Times | May 17, 2020, 5:00 AM | Eunice Quek

A handwritten piece of paper, stuck on a box outside baking supplies store Phoon Huat in Toa Payoh, states that ingredients such as baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder are out of stock.

The same ingredients are missing from many shelves in supermarkets and grocery stores across the island. Shops and retailers, however, insist there is sufficient stock.

The only problem: They cannot replenish shelves fast enough because of a baking frenzy brought on by the circuit breaker measures and Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which falls on May 24.

Meanwhile, at Phoon Huat in Toa Payoh, customers wait in line, getting their temperatures and identity cards checked before entering.

This is a typical scene at shops run by the Phoon Huat chain, which also owns the Redman by Phoon Huat outlets. As part of social distancing and contact tracing efforts, all 14 outlets have in place a queue management system and digital check-in system, SafeEntry.

The queue system requires an individual to give his or her mobile number to get a queue number via SMS stating the waiting time. Upon receiving a second SMS, customers can join a shorter queue to enter the shop.

But check the date before heading to a store. Entry is restricted by the last digit of one’s NRIC number. For instance, if it is an odd number, an individual will be allowed entry only on odd-numbered dates.

Since April 27, the stores have also had shorter daily operating hours of 10am to 7pm – regular operating hours vary across outlets – due to manpower constraints arising from split-team operations.

A Phoon Huat spokesman says: “We found the alternate visit dates effective for social distancing. The objective is to cut the number of customers by half.

Long queues at the Phoon Huat store in Toa Payoh on May 14. With more customers stocking up on baking supplies, the shop has run out of some ingredients.

“Our shops are small and with the limited (number of customers) allowed in each shop at any one time, we want to cut the queue and crowd (numbers) outside.”

Still, the measures have not stopped some of the stores’ baking ingredients from running out fast.

With more time on their hands, more people are turning to baking – from homemade bread to the trendy Basque burnt cheesecake – during the circuit breaker period.

Says the Phoon Huat spokesman: “We are unable to replenish stocks fast enough for retail customers. Whatever retail packs are produced daily are immediately sent to our shops twice a day.

“For basic baking ingredients like flour and sugar, the supply is enough. It is the retail packing process we are trying our best to increase capacity for.”

Phoon Huat’s production plant runs three daily shifts and it is looking to increase delivery slots with third-party logistics companies.

Supermarket chains are also racing to restock baking goods, for which there has been unprecedented demand.

At FairPrice outlets, sales of baking products “have increased about threefold” during the circuit breaker period compared with the same period last year, says a FairPrice spokesman. Sales have also jumped by 80 per cent in the weeks leading up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri, compared with the same period last year.

“This has resulted in periodic disruption for some of these products such as flour, baking soda and instant yeast,” adds the FairPrice spokesman. “We have ramped up supplies and are purchasing from a wider pool of suppliers to provide more alternatives.”

Since the tighter circuit breaker measures were announced on April 21, grocery store The Source Bulk Foods has been selling 25kg of flour daily – five times the usual amount – and seen more demand for vanilla pods.

Home bakers who are unable to get sufficient baking supplies have had to make do with ingredients they already have.

Housewife Patricia Tan, 52, who bakes for family and friends, looked in vain for Philadelphia cream cheese for weeks and was unable to fulfil an order for a birthday cake.

She says: “I did not want to use other brands because I cannot guarantee the quality.”

The avid baker of sourdough bread has been hunting for flour at different supermarkets and baking supplies stores, and has tried using flour from Vietnam which she bought at a FairPrice supermarket.

She says: “I don’t need yeast because I have a sourdough starter, but I can’t do without flour. And for bread, you usually need bread flour that has high protein content.”

Cream cheese, baking chocolate and chiffon cake tins were missing from Mrs Michelle Wong’s delivery from Phoon Huat’s Redman online shop last Friday.

Only seven of her 15 items arrived. She was informed via e-mail that the rest were out of stock and she would receive a refund.

The mother of two children, aged eight and 11, ordered online as she did not want to leave them at home to go to the supermarket, especially since she would likely have had to stay in the queue for a while.

She says: “I will just have to make do with whatever I have.”

Link to article:

【2019冠状病毒】烘焙材料店购系统管控人流 阻断措施期间生意减半

Channel 8 News | 2020年5月10日 20:44 | 文: 萧歆怡


8视界新闻早前报道我国全岛不少烘焙材料店在阻断措施期间大排长龙,随后本地烘焙材料店奋发(Phoon Huat)以及其旗下Redman的所有分店实施身份证尾号单双日限制,即身份证号码为单数的公众只能在单数日前去购物,而身份证号码为双数者则只能在双数日前去购物。


奋发告诉8视界新闻记者,为进一步减少店外排队等候的人数,他们已投资订购了电子排队管理系统(Queue Management System),让顾客可以通过手机取号排队。在该系统下,获得电子排号的顾客将能按自己的序号收到短信提醒,告知他们何时可回到奋发的分店购物。


分店外排队队伍短了 但仍超过十人


对此,奋发业务发展总经理Tan Siew Shuen回应表示,工作人员会尽最大的努力快速帮助顾客取号,并鼓励顾客先去做其他的事情,收到短信后才回到店外加入少于十人的较短排队队伍。







斋戒期马来顾客多 但奋发销售额整体仍跌逾50%



尽管两周后就是开斋节,前往奋发购物的马来族同胞增多,但奋发奋发业务发展总经理Tan Siew Shuen却告诉8世界新闻记者:“我们还没看到开斋节对今年的销售有任何积极的影响。与去年的斋戒月相比,也没有看到任何积极的影响。”

Tan Siew Shuen也透露,由于餐饮业受创,奋发主要的餐饮行业客户需求下跌,奋发的销售量也随之下滑,在阻断措施期间已下跌逾50%。



Link to article:【2019冠状病毒】烘焙材料店购系统管控人流-阻断措施期间生意减半.pdf

烘焙原料热卖 专卖店只限10人排队

XinMing | 2020年5月2日 3:19 PM | 摄影 / 徐颖荃









Link to article:烘焙原料热卖-专卖店只限10人排队-_-早报.pdf


XinMing | 2 May 2020


本报记者到奋发位于元兰31街第302座组屋分行观察,工作人员在检查民众身份证尾数是否可按单或双数,允许入店后就会在平板电脑的软件,输入民众电话号码 ,发出手机短信注明需等待时间与排队号码.




本报记者观察,有民众分散站在店附近草地,电梯与楼梯口,虽然没了 长长人龙,但有少许混乱。

COVID-19: Public urged to bring along NRICs to supermarkets, malls

Yahoo News Singapore | 29 April 2020 | Amir Hussain

SINGAPORE — Amid enhanced circuit breaker measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, more supermarkets and malls will be scanning patrons’ National Registration Identification Cards (NRICs) or asking them to enter the NRIC numbers via an online national visitor registration system as part of their contact tracing regime.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that a number of malls and NTUC FairPrice and Dairy Farm Group Singapore outlets have begun scanning customers’ NRICs or asking them to use the government-developed cloud-based check-in system SafeEntry, alongside taking their temperatures.

Among them are NTUC FairPrice outlets at Whitesands, Junction 8, Tanjong Pagar Plaza and Serangoon North Ave 1, Cold Storage outlets at Great World City and Takashimaya, ION Orchard and NEX.

By scanning a QR code, patrons can authenticate their visit to a supermarket or mall on SafeEntry via SingPass Mobile or by manually entering their name, NRIC and mobile number.

Last Tuesday (21 April), the authorities announced that temperature screening will be conducted at all supermarkets and malls. Additionally, patrons visiting a list of 16 malls with supermarkets in them and four other non-mall supermarkets with high traffic will also be required for provide their particulars for contact tracing.

When contacted on Wednesday (29 April), a spokesperson for Enterprise Singapore told Yahoo News Singapore, “We are glad to see that many malls and supermarkets have since implemented temperature screening and contact tracing, and understand that the rest will do the same in the next few days.

“We therefore advise customers to bring along their identification card when visiting the malls and supermarkets, so that they will be allowed to enter,” the spokesperson added.

When contacted, an NTUC FairPrice spokesperson said, “The latest initiative to facilitate contact tracing at our stores is in compliance with the latest precautionary measures set by the authorities.”

The spokesperson added, “FairPrice continues to work closely with the authorities and support various measures such as safe distancing, personal protection, as well as enhanced cleaning schedules to protect the well-being of our staff and customers during this period.”

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to Dairy Farm Group with queries on the NRIC scanning and contact tracing procedures.

Visit malls, supermarkets alone whether it was considering limiting the entry of customers to supermarkets and malls by the last digit of their NRICs, or whether it was considering limiting the frequency of customers’ entries to supermarkets and malls.

Last Friday (24 April), popular baking supplies chain Phoon Huat said it will limit entry to its and RedMan shops based on NRIC or Foreign Identification Number (FIN) number.

The announcement came after the National Environment Agency said last Tuesday that it would restrict access to four popular markets – where long queues were still seen – based on NRIC/FIN numbers: Geylang Serai Market, Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road (Chong

Pang Market), Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane, and Block 505 Jurong West Street 52. Patrons with an even last digit (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) in their NRIC/FIN numbers can only visit these markets on the even dates of the month, and those with an odd last digit (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) can only visit these markets on the odd dates of the month.

As of Wednesday (29 April) noon, a total of 15,641 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Singapore.

A total of 14 people have died from complications of the virus here while another fourpatients who tested positive for the virus have died from causes unrelated to COVID-19.

Link to article:


Channel 8 News | 2020年4月26日 19:39 | 文: 谢欣宁












Link to article:【冠状病毒19】泡泡茶和烘焙原料需求增加.pdf

奋发专卖店首日限号限时买烘焙品 人潮不减

Zaobao | 2020年4月25日 2:29 PM | 摄影 / 严宣融


在家烘焙风气旺,奋发(Phoon Huat)近日门口常有大排长龙的情况。该公司分别于前天和昨天发面簿贴文通知公众,旗下14家分店将按照身份证尾号配单双日的形式,把顾客错开,并限制顾客每人10分钟的购物时间。




Link to article:奋发专卖店首日限号限时买烘焙品-人潮不减-_-早报.pdf

在家烘焙大热 材料用品专店 也得限号入内

Zaobao | 2020年4月25日 3:30 AM


奋发有限公司(Phoon Huat)分别于前天和昨日发出面簿贴文通知公众,各分行将按照身份证尾号配单双日的形式,把顾客错开。



奋发也提醒公众,每人在店内只有10分钟的购物时间,建议顾客独自购物,以减少店里人数。各分店目前已采用免触式电子结账方式(contactless payment)。

Link to article:在家烘焙大热-材料用品专店-也得限号入内-_-早报.pdf



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