What You Should Know Before Joining A Durian Group Buy
Group buys have been around for ages. The rise of the internet made these activities even more widespread in a major scale. Which was why companies like Groupon made such an impact during it’s heydays.
With how fast the prices of durians have risen in recent years, it’s no surprise that more and more consumers are exploring the idea of joining groups to purchase durians in volume so as to save a little money.
But as with everything, there are pros and cons in joining durian group buys. And you should know what you are getting into before putting your hard earned money on the table.
What is a group buy?
On the surface, when we see the word “group buy”, most people would intuitively think about a person organizing a big purchase from durian farms so as to maximize the amount of durians at a minimal price. Then distribute the purchase to the participants when the goods are delivered.
After all, these days, durian farms are easily sourced online. We can understand that they sell at low prices in high volume. Thus, it makes sense for consumers to pool up their funds to meet minimum purchase requirements to enjoy wholesale prices.
It’s not the same as a bulk purchase which is usually a term that describes a big order for something like a corporate event or durian party.
Frankly, if I’m invited to a durian groupbuy, the above scenario would be what I’m expecting.
But with how enterprising the durian industry is, durian sellers can actually organize these groupbuys themselves. Essentially playing the role of group seller.
In fact, if you just do a basic search of durian groupbuys online, whether it’s google or facebook, don’t be surprised to find that 9 out of 10 of such activities are run by sellers.
I mean… it’s fine if a seller is transparent and declare their status upfront. But if the commercial interest is not declared with the hope that participants assume that the organizer is a consumer himself, then it really defeats the spirit of group buys. It should be called a bulk purchase instead. Or from the perspective of sellers, a group sell.
You don’t need to be a genius to figure out why some sellers engage in these marketing activities.
“Group buys” enable sellers to move a lot of inventory. And it offers the opportunity to clear inventory that are of less value in retail price. For example, C grade musang kings and durians with defects. And under the shade and cover of a “group buy”, getting such lower quality fruits are supposedly part of the deal when you buy durian in volume.
So one of the first things that you should check for when getting involved in durian group buys is to find out who are the organizers, and whether they are linked to durian sellers. A consumer organizer would obviously be motivated to get as much quality durians that meet a certain standard as possible. While a business organizer might be more than open to sending durians without any quality assurances.
A durian seller being an organizer does not mean that some funny business is going on. But that you should ask more questions so that you get a better picture of what you are getting into.
For example, I’ve come across “group buys” that allow any number of people to participate. Even if it’s just a single consumer for a few durians. The consumer would be quoted maybe $2 off the retail price per kilogram. Such scenarios really raises the question of whether it’s really a groupbuy in the first place. I genuinely thought groupbuys only take place when a certain volume of purchase is met from the accumulation orders from many people…
What durians are you getting?
So let’s say that you have done your investigative work and is satisfied with the organizers. Whether it’s a direct order to farms or resellers.
It goes without saying that you should know what you are buying. The odds are that you would be buying musang kings since this is an expensive durian available in high volume.
The question now is what grades of durians will you be receiving?
Are they grade A? Grade B? C?
This really is a factor that determines whether the supposed lower price you pay is indeed a much better price than if you are to buy them yourself at retail.
If the retail price of grade A MSW is $25/kg, you might feel that you are getting one hell of a deal at $17/kg. But what if you are getting grade B MSWs?
The retail price of grade B MSWs should already be in that range. And what if the durians that arrive turn out to be grade C?
The thing with the durian industry is that you can never count your chickens before they hatch. Every supplier talks a great game. But you really cannot take words literally until you see the stock with your own eyes… and taste it with your own mouth.
And don’t think for a moment that asking a supplier to send pictures will verify quality. Surely you know that only the best pictures will be sent.
By the time the durians arrive, there’s really nothing much you can do except to accept it. You can’t send the durians back, and there’s no way you will get a refund.
If you think that a refund guarantee means you are safe, you are being naive. But I won’t blame you. Most durianers will only believe how questionable the practices in this market are when they get burned themselves.
So this comes down to who is supplying your durians.
Is it a reputable farm whose reputation is at stake? An unknown nameless farm who isn’t afraid to send you bad durians? A durian seller with a huge brand to live up to? A seller who don’t even have a proper shop front? A seller who already has a bad reputation online? A seller under the disguise of a bulk order organizer without commercial intent trying to sell high quantity?
The only way you can mitigate this as a consumer participating in such buying activities is to evaluate how trustworthy and credible the organizer is. Is he someone known to have extensive contacts? Has he been conducting GBs for a long time with a proven track record?
In general, consumers are more than willing to pay a fair value for durians. Many are happy to pay a high price for quality durians. The problem is that many have had the experience of paying high prices for durians in substandard quality.
Thus joining group buys. Lower prices means the lesser the risks when they get punched in the face. Which leads us to the question…
What is the price?
To be frank, when I join group buys for any products, I expect a discount of at least 40% off retail. Otherwise, what’s the point?
On top of that, the very term “groupbuy” brings about the thought that consumers would be getting products at wholesale price. After all, the pooling of resources and orders in group buys are meant to accumulate large orders to obtain wholesale prices from vendors.
The average pricing range that Malaysia farmers wholesale MSW to resellers at this time is RM30/kg-RM40/kg.
So if a group buy price is SGD $10/kg, that translates to about RM34/kg. I’d say that’s a pretty fair price. And it would deliver even better value if the fruits are grade A.
But if the price is $15/kg, it converts to about RM51/kg. It can still be a good deal if all the fruits are grade A. But if it’s anything below grade A, then it would appear to be an undesirable deal.
The numbers to work with, of course, will depend on what are the market prices at that particular moment in time.
Ultimately, if the group buy pricing is only $1-$3 below the retail price, you should ask yourself why get involved in them at all. Especially if you are only getting a few kilograms of durians. You might as well walk into a durian store and get your durians there. At least when the durians are bad, you get to have them replaced on the spot.