Online agri-grocery shopping startups gain traction

While many businesses in Indonesia are struggling to tame the impact of Covid-19, ARIEF FACHRUDIN learns that online agri-grocery shopping startups are riding a growth wave and expanding.

Etanee’s online transactions increased sevenfold after the government announced social restrictions to mitigate the disease spread. Sayurbox, meanwhile, recorded a five-fold increase in orders. Similarly TaniHub, Meyer Food, Brambang and AgRetail gained online traction and orders.

Expansion

To keep in step with growing demand, Etanee targeted to expand its distribution reach to all regions in Jakarta and South Tangerang by end April. Its services are now available in Bogor, Depok, Cibubur, South Jakarta, Cianjur and Bandung.

In addition, Etanee recently partnered with Quiks Frozen, a South Korean startup focusing on refrigerated box technology. Through this, Etanee wants to preserve the quality of their agri-commodities during delivery and maintain the cold chain system from stockiest to customer.

With services now only available in Jakarta and South Tangerang, Sayurbox will expand to areas in and beyond Greater Jakarta. The startup has also increased its capacity for sourcing, processing, packing and warehousing.

TaniHub recently raised USD 17 million to expand its services. The capital will be used to strengthen market position, accelerate expansion of service and geographical coverage, and implement automation solutions in its new processing and packing center.

Etanee recently partnered with Quiks Frozen, a South Korean startup focusing on refrigerated box technology. (Photo courtesy of Etanee)

Product diversification

Besides competitive prices, diversified products are the key to attracting and retaining customers online.

Realizing that, Etanee which before Covid-19 only offered chicken meat, beef and processed meats, now also sells ready meals, fish, processed seafood, rice, vegetables, and fruits.

Likewise, Meyer Food with earlier offerings limited to only chicken meat, chicken offal and further processed chicken, currently also offers marinated chicken, native chicken, eggs, beef, sugar and cooking oil.

Both Etanee and Meyer Food are linked to integrated poultry groups and earlier offered more poultry products.

On the contrary, before Covid-19 Sayurbox, TaniHub, Brambang and AgRetail were strong in vegetables and fruits, but now they continue to add more fresh and processed animal protein to their cart options.

Collaboration

In mid-April, the Agriculture Ministry signed agreements with Grab, animal protein suppliers and online agri-grocery startups to ensure smooth distribution of animal protein products during Covid-19 restrictions. The startups include etanee, TaniHub and Sayurbox.

This spirit of collaboration should be adopted by broiler farmers who have been hit hard by the pandemic. They should open communications with startups because the latter’s mission is to shorten the supply chain and help farmers sell their produce online.

Since the startups do not sell live birds, broiler farmers should also talk with members of the Indonesian Chicken Slaughterhouses Association to help process their broilers.

The three-party collaboration can materialize if they start the conversation now. This could work also with other poultry and livestock farmers.

TaniHub will soon automate its new processing and packing center. (Photo courtesy of TaniHub)

Looking ahead

Post Covid-19, the online agri-grocery shopping startups are expected to continue to grow with a good customer base harnessed during this period.

Juan Permata Adoe, Vice Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce for processed food and livestock industry, said due to Covid-19, consumer behavior has changed. He believes and has seen that technology can mitigate supply/demand issues.

Post Covid-19, consumers will see a new norm where convenience offered by tech-based startups become familiar and useful. Startups then should evolve and innovate to grow their business and remain relevant.

The online agri-grocery startups aim to shorten the supply chain of agri-commodities by helping farmers sell their produce online. (Photo courtesy of Sayurbox)