PHILIPPINES – Popularly known for being an accessible form of retail owned by a family located in or near their homes, the sari-sari or mom-and-pop neighborhood store has become a relevant hallmark in the Filipino community and its economy. An estimated 84% of Filipinos purchase essential goods from over 1.1 million stores across the country, with 60% of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) shopper spending happening in such stores. Like any segment in the economy, the owners of these sari-sari stores have experienced bottlenecks when it comes to access and income especially during the pandemic. These challenges led to them discovering how they can better manage their businesses through innovation.
Tech-enabled B2B platform GrowSari saw the sari-sari store’s potential to be the biggest and most accessible distribution channel in the Philippines by driving efficiencies in route planning while collecting valuable insights on store behavior. Through the GrowSari app, sari-sari stores can double their earnings through access to better pricing for more than a thousand of fast moving sari-sari store stock keeping units (SKUs) from the largest brands across all the major FMCG categories.
GrowSari CEO, ER Rollan explains the GrowSari philosophy: “we want to use proprietary technology to accelerate financial health for Filipino sari-sari store owners, to help them to use, protect, and grow their business in the long run and transform sari-sari stores into comprehensive service hubs for the Philippines’ grassroots communities.”
Offering New Products and Services. Jerald Corpuz has been a sari-sari store owner for three years. When lockdowns were imposed last March 2020, his business was badly hit. The decrease in customers cut his daily income of PHP 4000 – PHP 5000 by 50%. He also had a hard time restocking products for his store since the lockdowns limited going in and out of the house. These hindrances led him to join the growing community of GrowSari. After being referred to by a friend, he instantly saw a huge difference in his way of handling the business.
Through Growsari, Jerald was able to expand the products he offers such as repacked cooking oil and other cooking ingredients, which he could now sell at a cheaper price and have become his bestsellers. “Napadali talaga yung pagpapatakbo ko ng tindahan kasi lahat pwede mo na gawin sa app ng GrowSari,” says Jerald (Managing my store became easier because you can do everything on GrowSari’s app). He also no longer sees restocking as a chore as he does this at the comfort of his own home along with paying his bills and offering prepaid load availed through Growcoins—GrowSari’s rebate feature.
Empowering store owners. Before fully transitioning to running a sari-sari store, Angel Ortiz, who has been a store owner for one year, was a production officer for a decade when she lost her job due to the pandemic. “Dahil sa pandemic, nahirapan na rin ako maghanap ng trabaho at kinailangan ko mag-alaga nung baby ko.” (Because of the pandemic, I had a hard time getting a job that allowed me to take care of my newly-born baby). She set up her own sari-sari store and looked for ways to stay on top of her business amidst the pandemic and while taking care of her family. Upon learning about GrowSari through social media, she tried the app and immediately she noticed improvements in the way she ran her business.
“Oras talaga yung naging benefit sa akin ng GrowSari,” Angel says. Before, she would roughly spend 4 to 5 hours buying products for her store and allocate 200 pesos for her commute going to the grocery stores. Angel adds that GrowSari has brought convenience to her with its free delivery with no minimum spend offer. Besides being able to restock her store at the comfort of her own home, through GrowSari’s credit feature “e-lista,” she has been able to better manage her family’s monthly budgets.
Providing better pricing. Sherlyn Hernandez has been a sari-sari store owner for eight months. Prior to this, she originally had a bigasan (rice store) and the income she collected there enabled her to start a sari-sari store. With PHP 30,000 as capital, she was able to start off with a wide array of products to offer.
As the pandemic hit, she drastically saw a decrease in her daily income to more than half of what she was originally earning. This led Sherlyn to try several grocery delivery apps before finally trying GrowSari because of its delivery benefits. “Yung iba po kasi may service and delivery fees at malaki pa rin po yung dagdag noon sa kabuuang gastos namin sa tindahan,” says Sherlyn (Other grocery delivery applications charge service and delivery that add to my spending.). Unlike other apps, GrowSari uniquely offers free delivery. She was also able to expand to selling eggs since GrowSari’s product prices offer the distributors’ list prices, which allowed her to maximize her earnings better.
GrowSari has grown from a base of 1,000 sari-sari stores in three cities in 2018 to more than 50,000 stores in over 100 municipalities across Luzon.