Imagine pressing a fast-forward button and you might have a sense of how quickly this hamper maker works. His actions are so well coordinated that it seems like he has more than two hands.
Mr Ding Wei Qing, 24, has been a product arranger for five years with Humming Flowers & Gifts, an online company that has a factory at Tai Seng Drive, near Ubi.
“Each and every item must stand out and cannot be partially blocked by another item,” he said, explaining the challenges of his job. He packs about 30 gift baskets and hampers a day and to relax after a busy day, he soaks his hands in very warm water, he said.
The company has about 25 packers, who work in morning and afternoon shifts. They work nine hours a day and churn out up to 3,000 hampers, which cost from $88 to $1,388.
Before the packing begins, a dedicated team gathers every item for each hamper. As the hamper designs are unique and contain different types of items, Mr Ding follows a checklist so that nothing is left out. With his experience, he is sometimes allowed to create a new hamper design. He gets first dibs at packing the hamper, which will be a sample for the other product arrangers to follow.
Packing a new hamper for the first time takes skill and creativity. Each item’s size and weight must be considered. Larger, heavier items must be placed at the bottom.
For Chinese New Year, delicacies have to be included, such as abalone and wine. Clear adhesive tape is used to hold them all together. With his nimble fingers, Mr Ding decorates the hamper with ribbons and flowers easily. As a final touch, he sticks a flower-shaped ribbon on the top.
Humming’s business is up by about 10 per cent compared to last year. Its customers range from housewives to business owners. “Homemakers often look to decorate their home to give it a festive feel," said sales manager Joyce Yuen, who is in her 50s. “Business owners give hampers to express gratitude and appreciation for their own customers’ support throughout the past year.”
Three of four other hamper stores that TNP spoke to also said business is on the rise this year. Angel Florist Singapore has so far sold twice the number of Chinese New Year hampers compared to last year, while Noel Gifts International has seen a single-digit percentage increase in the value of hampers sold.
Ms Chantel Seet, advertising and promotions executive of Noel Gifts International, said: “Chinese New Year is in February this year, so we had more time to take orders and fulfil them.”
Last year, Chinese New Year was on Jan 23 and24. At Eden Cottage, hamper sales have remained the same as last year’s, but the owner, Mr Robert Neo, is not complaining. He said: “When I spoke to the press last month, sales were quite bad. So I initially expected a 20 per cent drop in sales. But the market has improved since.”
– Additional reporting by Karen Gwee
This article was first published in The New Paper on February 8, 2013.