As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to lead people to shift their lives online, new e-businesses have sprung up to fulfil their needs during these tough times.
David Ghani, the founder of newly-launched beverage delivery service Drinks on Wheels, has a background in alcohol distribution spanning 15 years in several countries including China and Thailand.
He sat down with The Post’s May Kunmakara to talk about the business and discuss the current state of the local business community.
Can you tell me about Drinks on Wheels? What made you decide to start it up?
Drinks on Wheels was launched two weeks after most businesses in Phnom Penh started split-shifts, working from home, or closing indefinitely. While not being a pioneer in the field – many countries around the world already have successful online drinks delivery businesses – it is a first in the capital and in the country.
Taking inspiration from online supermarket platforms in Cambodia, I saw a niche in the online market that had yet to be filled and created Drinks on Wheels to serve both the local and foreign community in Phnom Penh.
We are the first dedicated alcohol delivery platform in Cambodia, boasting an inventory of over 400 products. Our goal is to eventually have every beverage available in Cambodia on the website, as well as promoting responsible drinking and general education of the effects of alcohol consumption.
What is the scale of your operations?
Drinks on Wheels is planning to not only become a go-to drinks delivery service in the capital of Cambodia, but throughout the Kingdom too, with a nationwide rollout planned before the end of the year.
With such an emphasis on catering for the public’s elixir needs and with our tagline ‘Rolling the good times to your doorstep’, it should only be a matter of time before we’re wheeling our products all around the country.
How has Covid-19 affected businesses in the Kingdom?
Covid has had a significant effect across many businesses in Cambodia, particularly in the food and beverage industry. There have been closures of many small restaurants and bars across the country due to either having a lack of customers or being shut down as a government directive.
It is an extremely difficult time for our industry and it will likely take years before it returns to how it was pre-Covid, if it ever does.
How have altered consumer behaviours during these times changed the market trend of the industry?
According to the Kantar Covid-19 barometers, there has been a reduction in alcohol consumption in Cambodia which has mainly been due to the closure of places where alcohol can be consumed such as bars, nightclubs and KTVs.
Most alcohol consumption now is taking place in restaurants or at home, so Cambodians are currently using supermarkets and marts more regularly to purchase their drinks.
What specific steps will you take to promote safe and responsible drinking?
There is currently no minimum legal drinking age in Cambodia so we will actively try to promote responsible drinking as we understand that this is a serious problem.
Although there is no legal requirement for health warnings, we plan to promote these warnings through our marketing campaigns to ensure that our drinks are consumed safely.
We are also aware of the current need to social distance and keep things clean. All our drivers are provided with masks, and hand sanitiser is at their disposal. If a customer prefers contactless delivery, they can request that through their order.
Do you plan to continue the business after the virus situation is under control?
E-commerce is the future of business globally. This has been accelerated due to the Covid situation and has pushed many businesses into the online market that perhaps hadn’t focused on this before.
Our business is no exception and we will continue to develop our online business once the Covid virus has dissipated.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.