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KedaiSayur – or “vegetable kiosk” in Bahasa – is an Indonesian agritech startup that uses technology to modernize street vendors selling fresh produce. Vendors can book their orders via an app and KedaiSayur aggregates them to negotiate better pricing to the suppliers than they would otherwise get as small sellers. KedaiSayur also provides a financial float that allows the vendors to upsize their usual order and pay later once sold. Vendors can also upgrade their mode of transport to a branded three-wheeled vehicle called Komo (Kedai on Mobile) with a chiller section to keep produce cool. They are also exploring future opportunities in distribution and logistics. For example, consumers can pre-order certain goods and have it delivered by the vendors. Launched only six months ago, KedaiSayur recently raised USD 1.3 million seed funding from East Ventures, and already has more than 2,000 hawkers on the platform.

Irrelevant? Third world? Quite the opposite! Here’s what we can all learn from this startup:

Empower vs eliminate. KedaiSayur’s strategy is similar to that of Alibaba and – empowering traditional mom-and-pop stores to conquer the fragmented, offline retail market in China (which still accounts for a whopping 80% of the country’s total retail!). Empowerment is a smart strategy, especially in the grocery sector where scaling a pure online play is hard even in the most logistically developed markets. Local vendors are well-placed to deliver the on-demand expectations of customers, something we talked about last year in our FOOT SOLDIERS Asian retail trend.

So here’s food for thought: instead of simply trying to eliminate smaller players, can you identify what benefits they could potentially bring for your business, and therefore how you can empower them to meet today’s customer expectations?