The growth of e-commerce and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant uptick in the demand for online grocery delivery services. And with it comes the emergence of a new player that is changing the landscape of grocery shopping and retail commerce as we know it: dark stores.
For some who are not yet familiar, “dark” stores are generally warehouses used to store products and items that will cater specifically to online grocery shopping. And leading this space in the Asia Pacific and the Philippines in particular, is pandamart, powered by online quick-commerce platform foodpanda.
According to foodpanda’s Director of New Verticals Karan Bhaskar, they are the pioneers of the dark store business model having been the first to introduce the concept in the Philippines. “When we first brought pandamart to the Philippines in 2020, we changed the rules of e-grocery shopping in the country. Two years later, we continue to be a leader in the industry as the biggest online grocery shopping platform with more than 40 warehouses all over the country.”
A pioneer and leader in the e-grocery space
“What separates us and makes us unique is not just that we are the first and the biggest – we also have control over the entire ecosystem. We have our own warehouses where we curate, store and pick inventory. In addition, the grocery platform is ours and we are also the ones who do the delivery.”
“We are committed to bringing much loved grocery products closer to our Filipino consumers and solidify our position as the biggest grocery delivery service in the country. That’s why aside from major cities in the Metro, we have also expanded the areas where our warehouses are located to include, Baguio in Luzon as well as Cebu and Davao in VisMin.”
Karan also shared that having access throughout the end-to-end ecosystem has allowed them to deliver quickly and efficiently. “In pandamart, what the customers see on the app is the actual inventory because we have a real-time overview of the stock-keeping units (SKU’s) in our warehouses.”
How does it work
Offering a one-stop shop for all food and essential needs, pandamart continues to dominate the grocery delivery scene with over 5,000+ daily essentials such as groceries, fresh produce, household items, beauty products, and more where you can have everything delivered in less than an hour after ordering.
Available in the foodpanda app under the “pandamart” tab, online shoppers can browse for items and products. Afterward, a designated person or what they call as “pickers” will get the items you selected. The order will then be received by your assigned Ka-Panda rider which will be delivered to your doorstep in as fast as 25 minutes.
Karan also noted some interesting consumer buying behavior that they have noticed. “Despite quick commerce being seen as mainly to fulfill consumers’ impulse needs like snacks, it’s interesting to see that there are orders like the ones you usually buy in physical retail stores such as fruits, vegetables, meat and baby/child and pantry essentials, among others .”
Supporting and empowering businesses
foodpanda’s Director of New Verticals also shared that pandamart currently houses hundreds of brands ranging from big names in the industry to small and medium enterprises. Some of their partners include leading brands from Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Universal Robina Corporation (URC). On the other hand, pandamart has also tapped into Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
“Some of the MSMEs that we have partnered with offer the not-so typical grocery items that you would get from an e-grocery platform. Those shops include Blooms Artisan where you can get beautifully curated dried flowers and Best Fresh for fresh fruits and vegetables,“ Karan says.
“Being able to house both big-time companies and MSMEs in the app allows us to provide a variety of choices that would fit whatever it is our shoppers are looking for. In the end, it is ultimately the Filipino shopper who should win with a choice that tailor fits for their preference.”
“We have also seen how assisting MSMEs can help them gain more exposure in our app so one of our goals moving forward is to partner with local jewels in the months ahead,” he added.
As the demand for safe and convenient access to groceries grew, they have also seen an increase in the usage of pandamart especially during the heightened pandemic restrictions. “We now get 5x as many customers compared to when we started back in October of 2020. What’s also noteworthy is that even with the easing of restrictions, consumers continue to believe in the benefits of groceries being delivered in the safety and convenience of their homes.”
Seeing as how the industry could still grow in the future, foodpanda is looking at expanding to include more warehouses in other areas and locations across the country as well as onboard more partners, especially MSMEs.
“We are seeing more and more consumers switching to online means for their grocery shopping. So yes, we would continue to work towards improving our offering in the efforts to make this a sustainable and rewarding experience for our consumers in the coming months. ”
Aside from being a businessman, Josh Austria has been working in PR and media industry for more more than a decade. From his years of experience as the Marketing and Advertising Head of Village Pipol Magazine, he has built strong relationships with creative people, brands, and organizations.