Exec: Honestbee’s growth here faster than that of Manila market
Have you ever needed to buy something at a grocery store or the public market but immediately cower at the thought of going out and braving horrendous traffic and long lines at the stores?
Now, you won’t have to be as honestbee, Asia’ leading online grocery concierge service, has expanded its operations in the country to Cebu.
Imagine browsing through aisles of grocery products; buying from more than one store at the same time; and even satisfying your midnight cravings from different local restaurants all at the convenience of your mobile phone app.
“We just have a very simple mission: to make your lives easier so that you have more time for other things that matter,” said Crystal Gonzalez, honestbee Philippines’ country head during the app’s launching yesterday at Summit Galleria Hotel.
What makes honestbee unique is they employ in-store concierge shoppers who are the ones that do the actual grocery shopping for you and your items will be delivered right at your doorstep by their delivery personnel.
There are two main categories in honestbee – groceries and food.
They have close to twenty local supermarkets and boutiques which include Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Selections, Ministop, Seaworld, JN’s Best, Visayan Educational and Office Supplies, Echostore, Life Med, and even public markets like Carbon and Tabo-an which is famous for their dried fish as pasalubong but also infamous for its odor which sticks to your clothes even after you visit the area.
Gonzalez said they are trying to partner with more local groceries and will soon feature Gaisano Country Mall’s grocery in the mobile app by next week.
On the other hand, honestbee has also partnered with close to a hundred local restaurants which include some of Cebu’s homegrown brands like Handuraw Pizza, Kusina ni Nasing, and Ilaputi among others.
Other popular restaurants available in the app for Cebuanos are SnR, Casa Dos, Mr. A Bar, Seafood Island, Sumosam, Señor Kimchi, Sunburst Chicken, tablea Chocolate, Toniq, Bucket Shrimps, and Tsim Sha Tsui among others.
“We also want to empower businesses here especially the smaller businesses. We want to invite a lot of the businesses here,” Gonzalez said adding that those interested to be part of the app can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aside from the businesses on board, honestbee is also tapping the local workforce to be part of their team either as a shopper or delivery personnel.
Currently, honestbee has around 80 employees for their Cebu operations which include 15 office staff.
They have around 40 riders or delivery personnel and around 30 shoppers.
“Because of our expansion, we want more delivery bees and shopping bees and we really train them well,” Gonzalez said.
She explained that shoppers are extensively trained to pick groceries for customers as if they are picking it for themselves to ensure fresh and best quality meat and produce.
They are also trained to take note of expiration dates and possible substitutes if a requested item is not available. Even proper grooming and English 101 are taught to them.
In the Philippines, honestbee started operations in Metro Manila in the middle of 2017.
The mobile app was already available in Cebu as early as November 2017 and they had a prelaunch last month during the Sinulog Festival while yesterday was their grand launching.
Although honestbee is currently available for deliveries within Cebu City and Mandaue City only, Gonzalez said they will be expanding their coverage very soon.
Gonzalez said they target to make the deliveries available in majority of Cebu in the next three months.
They expect it to include Talisay City and Minglanilla by March and later on Mactan Island in the second quarter of 2018.
Cebu has been the only city outside Manila where honestbee is operating but they also plan to extend in other major cities in the country. But before doing so, Gonzalez said they want to test it in Cebu.
“The Cebuano market is always different, sometimes it’s more advanced. I find it faster for people here to adopt and try. The growth of honestbee here has been very fast, even faster than Manila,” she said.
They hope to expand operations in Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and even in more areas in Luzon within the next three months.
Honestbee was first launched in Singapore back in 2015 where their headquarters is located. They have since expanded in key cities in Asia such as Hong Kong, Taipei, Niseko and Tokyo in Japan, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Bangkok.
According to Gonzalez, the name “honestbee” was coined from the premium need for honesty in dealing with food and groceries to ensure fresh products.
On the other hand, the term bee was added as they likened how they operate to how bees work in colonies and for being community-based.
Gonzalez said their main target markets include mothers, xennials, millenials, and yuppies although honestbee caters to everyone who needs groceries and food.
For the next three months, honestbee is waiving the P49 delivery fee for groceries and food but users will have to pay the P99 for the concierge fee for those who shop for them, which Gonzalez said, is still so cheap considering the hassle, stress and traffic you will be able to avoid.
They also do not require minimum purchase although the additional fees are fixed.