A business like Bake With Yen would know all about adapting to changes over time.

Founded in 1987 by Madam Yen, Bake With Yen started out as a store selling baking ingredients at the Taman Tun Wet Market. From then, Madam Yen expanded the business with the help of her two sons – growing from one store to 15 outlets in Klang Valley by 2016.

After acquiring an investor in 2017, Bake With Yen grew to become a leading retail chain in the country – with 85 throughout Malaysia.

But even a powerhouse enterprise like Bake With Yen was not prepared for the challenges of Covid-19. We recently sat down with Phai Leng, the Head Of Retail Operations & E-commerce at Bake With Yen to talk about how the company overcame this difficult period.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was caught in shock because we have never experienced this.”

As a food supplier, Bake With Yen fell under essential services that were allowed to operate during MCO. Despite this, the company faced a shortage of manpower as staff refused to come to work. “We knew very little about the virus, so everybody was worried. People were scared and they dared not come out,” Phai Ling recounts.

The employees’ safety became a priority so they could work in a safe environment. Bake With Yen went the extra mile to secure face masks and sanitation products at a time when supply was limited. The company also rolled out strict SOPs, including limiting the number of customers in stores at any time.

While the manpower issue was resolved, there’s no denying that the pandemic had changed retail indefinitely. Businesses must adapt to consumers’ changing needs in order to grow – and Bake With Yen is no different.

Bake With Yen retail outlet. Image credit: Bake With Yen

Adapting to Market Changes

Every business has to reinvent itself over time to keep up with new trends. This was especially true during Covid-19, when online shopping became consumers’ preferred way to buy products.

Prompted by the market changes, Bake With Yen set up its e-commerce platform in May 2020 and started selling online. 

“I think to survive in any business – especially during this trying period – we need to be very versatile, try to adapt to the market changes and react really fast.”

It was a successful endeavour – the company was able to turn a profit after just a few months. But Bake With Yen’s e-commerce site is catered to B2C customers. When other businesses wanted to buy in bulk, Bake With Yen did not have the tools to serve them properly. 

“We handled wholesale customers separately through Whatsapp or email, but it was very tedious.”

From custom pricing to complex order management, B2B customers have unique needs that are difficult to manage manually. 

To combat this, Bake With Yen sought Dropee to create a seamless experience for its wholesale customers.

Customising the Wholesale Experience

Bake With Yen on Dropee

With Dropee, Phai Leng found what she was looking for: “An e-commerce platform that can actually handle the B2B customers.”

Phai Leng especially likes the customer registration feature, which saves the sellers from manually checking their customers’ backgrounds. When customers register on Dropee, all the information is automatically uploaded and sorted for easy reference. 

The chat feature is another favourite as it allows customers to make enquiries to a Dropee representative, who then liaise with Bake With Yen to resolve issues quickly, which improves the buying experience.

“Dropee is quite flexible because I can decide the price and upload products to react to market demands. There are features that are also available on other platforms but I think Dropee is more user-friendly.”

Customers that buy on Dropee also have access to financing options like grants and credit terms. These features are helpful to Phai Leng’s start-up clients, which in turn benefits Bake With Yen as the customers have more spending power.

Staying Agile in a Rapidly Changing Landscape

In the baking industry or F&B as a whole, product assortments and prices are dictated by what’s currently trending. And if we learned anything from the lockdowns, it’s that trends can change in an instant. Lotus Biscoff cheesecake and sourdough bread are just some of the baking trends that swept the globe, triggering sales and causing products to sell out in stores.

“Don’t push customers to buy what you have. Instead, stock up on what the customers want and sell them what they want to buy.”

Bake With Yen understands the importance of agility and keeps a close eye on market demand to spot new opportunities. Whether it’s uploading new products or trying out new pricing strategies, the company uses Dropee to react quickly to customers’ purchasing habits and give them what they want. 

Still Going Strong

As a people-oriented business, it was crucial for Bake With Yen to come out of the pandemic intact. 

“I always share with all my managers: ‘None of us is indispensable, and always remember that none of us is as good as all of us’. Even during this trying period, I always try to make sure that I am able to keep everyone – no one is left behind.”

When recounting the company’s growth since the pandemic, Phai Leng’s proudest achievement is that she did not lose any staff at a truly difficult time. And that would not have been possible if Bake With Yen didn’t act when it needed to by building an online presence and getting the right tools to serve its customers.

Categories: Case Study


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