By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter
E-COMMERCE startup Growsari is eyeing to have 300,000 partner stores by 2023 as part of efforts to boost its presence and transform small physical retail stores such as sari-sari stores across the country into comprehensive service hubs of their communities.
Maimai Madrid-Punzalan, Growsari chief marketing officer, said in a round table discussion on Thursday that the startup is aiming to reach the underserved areas outside metropolitan areas.
“We hope to reach 300,000 stores by early next year. We’ve shown we can go beyond the Tier 1 and now getting into the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, really reaching even the further underserved outside of the metro,” Ms. Punzalan said.
“We’re trying to stretch beyond the outskirts. Growth will remain continuous,” she added.
Growsari Co-Founder Reymund Rollan said that the startup has expanded into cities across Visayas and Mindanao such as Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, and General Santos. With this, the startup’s presence is now in 20 key cities and 400 municipalities across the Philippines.
He added that the expansion to Visayas and Mindanao aids in helping the digital transformation of the small stores served by the startup.
“As we get farther out into the provinces, a lot of sari-sari store owners are underserved given the challenges of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) distributors to physically reach them. Digital inclusion in these areas has also been lower. So, we see this as a huge opportunity where Growsari can come in to make a difference in the lives of small physical retail store owners,” Mr. Rollan said.
“This 2022 is quite significant for us because this is our first time [that] we venture out of Luzon. We felt that it was time to also build presence in other provinces outside Luzon. We want to be able to solve the inter-island logistics challenge. We felt that it was also the time for us to build that muscle and the playbook is strong enough so that some of the risks are properly studied before we expand,” he added.
Mr. Rollan said that the startup’s store partners will also be able to offer services beyond the selling of FMCGs with the use of Growsari’s application. The added services include telco credits, money remittance, bills payment, e-commerce, WiFi, and other electronic services.
“Through our platform, store owners have access to new revenue streams, which allow them to maximize their capital. In addition, we are doubling down on our capabilities to improve the overall customer experience and look to expand our ability to provide access to credit and basic financial services, which is a key pain point for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) who have limited access,” Mr. Rollan said.
“We’ve raised $110 million over four rounds of funding. We’re able to get support from local conglomerates. We are happy that there is validation even at a global investment scale that sari-sari stores have a role to play and that’s why they are investing in this business,” he added.
Growsari started in 2016 as an ordering platform that serviced around 1,000 sari-sari stores. By end-2021, it reached over 100,000 sari-sari stores across Luzon.