Before the pandemic even hit, Jone Chuan knew online is the future. 

“Going online was inevitable – the pandemic just sped things up and forced people to see its importance.”

He’s the Director of Extra Natural, a distributor that imports and supplies frozen fruits, vegetables, snack food and natural sweeteners. The company has grown significantly since it opened its doors back in 2007, a time when they sold only one product: sweet potato fries.

Due to consumer demand, Extra Natural has expanded their product range extensively to include fruits and vegetables. 

Today, it caters to people from HORECA to food industries in Malaysia to reduce reliance on labour and improve production efficiency, as well as the supply consistency. 

The team at Extra Natural.

A big advocate in digital transformation, Jone listed Extra Natural on Dropee to not just reach new customers, but also to tap on the world’s growing reliance on technology. 

“When I first found out about Dropee, my first thought was ‘it’s a great platform’, because the future will be online, and everyone’s going to adopt technology in their lives.”

Stepping out of the traditional mindset

“The younger generation is adopting technology at a rapid pace in their day-to-day life,” he says, and for businesses to survive, they have to step out of their comfort zone. 

He joined Extra Natural in 2012, a time where business-as-usual was still just business as usual. He recounts how businesses would send their salesmen to manually service customers, a common practice amongst distributors. In fact, the lack of personalisation was the biggest reason given for their hesitancy to move online. 

“That was the norm before the pandemic.”

But it gets tricky when the salesperson has a lot of customers to service. Jone believes that with that many customers, it can’t “be that personalised as well”.

Another issue quickly crops up too: human errors. Sometimes, salespeople can be too busy and miss out on critical orders, or they can slip up and make the wrong ones. If they’re away, or worse, unresponsive, it causes unnecessary delays in placing orders and providing updates to customers. 

“If you don’t adapt, you’ll get smoked out. So it’s always wiser to keep up with the rest. It’s like a marathon, and if you stop, you won’t be able to catch up.”

Jone Chuah, Director of Extra Natural

By moving online, processes are much more efficient. There is less communication breakdown, and more transparency between retailers and suppliers.

Suppliers can easily see their order history and how much stock is left, while retailers know where their orders are, without having to needlessly follow up to get an update.

This was something Dropee provided Extra Natural with. “From safety of digital payment collections, to speeding up sales ordering and fulfilment cycles, there are many ways to do things more efficiently online with Dropee.”

Pivoting during the Pandemic

When the pandemic hit, the bulk of Extra Natural’s focus was still on businesses who weren’t online. 

“We were focused on business-to-business at that point of time, and with all the F&B businesses that were forced to close down, orders stopped coming in. It affected our sales tremendously.”

Not one to despair, Jone and the team sprang into action. They noticed that their eCommerce sales channel started growing – even though it was the smallest portion of their business. 

“It wasn’t that people stopped purchasing altogether, it was just shifted. We saw our e-commerce retail segment grow by 300-400%,” says Jone. “So we pivoted fast.”

Similarly, Extra Natural’s sales on Dropee grew steadily too. In April of 2021, at the height of the lockdown, their sales tripled in just a matter of months. 

Looking back, Jone is grateful that they moved fast and successfully shifted online. 

Built on Trust 

When it comes to online purchasing, trust is an important factor – something Jone likes about Dropee. 

“If I’m a small business, I have limited my choices. I don’t have a big pool of data to source from, and I can’t get better pricing, either. On top of that, I have to verify every individual supplier ourselves. Dropee removes that process completely – and it makes things so much easier.”

That’s because all suppliers are verified on Dropee. An internal team checks for the eligibility of each and every supplier, and ensures that they are genuine businesses. 

The Importance of Adapting

With Dropee, Extra Natural is able to boost their journey of digital transformation – and stay agile in a competitive landscape.

Because for Jone, excelling in the business is adapting. 

“If you don’t adapt, you’ll get smoked out. So it’s always wiser to keep up with the rest. It’s like a marathon, and if you stop, you won’t be able to catch up. I always encourage my team to stay humble, learn more, and be aware of our surroundings to adapt consistently.”


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