Views and Visions: Group buys Part 1

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. fortnight / ˈfɔrtˌnaɪt / (n.) – a period of two weeks

    We spent a fortnight in Europe and toured different cities.

  2. flat / flæt / (n.) – a group of rooms that people can rent to live in, especially those found on the same floor or level

    Nicole moved to a flat near her office.

  3. take turns / teɪk tɜrnz / (idiom) – to do something, with one person starting after another person is finished

    Ken and I will take turns delivering orders next week. He’ll do Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I’ll do Tuesday and Thursday.

  4. tag on / tæg ɒn / (phrasal v.) – to add something

    I think they just tagged on this information at the end. It wasn’t there before.

  5. fuss / fʌs / (n.) – unnecessary complication, worries, or problems

    They finished the project quickly without any fuss.


Read the text below.

Once every fortnight, my friend Audrey has at least a few hundred eggs delivered to her doorstep. They sit neatly in trays, arranged according to weight and type. As you may have guessed, not all of them are for her family. After checking that the order has been correctly filled, she snaps a picture and sends it off with a text message: “Eggs are ready for collection!”

The message is to neighbours in her block and a few blocks of flats nearby. The group of about 70 households keeps in touch via a group chat on the WhatsApp messaging app. They take turns to host regular group buys — mass orders of anything ranging from frozen food to fresh bread. Everyone benefits from splitting the delivery costs. Sometimes they even get bulk-order discounts.

Audrey started hosting the group buy for eggs shortly after the pandemic struck. Instead of going to the market or supermarket, which could get very crowded, she ordered her eggs directly from a vendor, who delivered them to her doorstep. Audrey asked her neighbours if they would like to tag on their orders, and many expressed an interest.

It has been more than a year since Audrey started doing this, and she has now developed her own protocol for a fuss-free group buy. Her neighbours text her their orders, and she keys in the data on a spreadsheet before placing an order with the vendor. Upon delivery, she pays the vendor via bank transfer. Her neighbours transfer their own payments to her after collecting their eggs from her doorstep. (Tan Ying Zhen)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • About 70 households participate in the regular group buys hosted by Audrey and her neighbors. Do you think group buys would be popular in your area too? What products do you think people would most likely order this way (ex. rice, bread)? Why? Discuss.
  • The households keep in touch via a group chat on the WhatsApp messaging app. In your area, is it common for neighbors to have each other’s contact information like this? What group chats do you participate in (ex. coworker group chats, old friend group chats)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Audrey has now developed her own protocol for a fuss-free group buy. In your opinion, what kind of problems are likely to happen with group buys? What can hosts do to avoid these problems? Why? Discuss.
  • Audrey’s group members take turns hosting regular group buys. Do you think this is a smart system, or is it better for one person to be in charge of everything? Would you ever volunteer to be a host for a group buy? Why or why not? Discuss.