Thousands of warungs are already enjoying the fruits of a digital transformation initiative before it is even fully launched.

In Indonesia, small family-owned kiosks or stalls retailing food and sundries at affordable prices survive on the rent savings from operating within self-owned premises.

However, these ‘warungs’ have limited cash flows and inventory space, and in the COVID-19 pandemic 87.5% suffered even more such problems. Also, 93.2% had also experienced a sales declines, according to Indonesia’s central bank.

Also, many warung owners live in rural areas that supply internet connectivity only intermittently. They also often use pay-as-you-go data plans or low-cost smartphones with limited storage capacity. So, when inventories are low, warung owners must sometimes close their stalls (losing income) and travel to wholesalers or markets (losing time) to buy fresh supplies.

So how can such important local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) be given a boost through digital transformation?

Riding on the public cloud

First, leverage a digital platform to create a one-stop virtual hypermart supporting warungs from 28 provinces and 3,071 districts.

Then, provide warung owners with a reliable and smooth internet access experience so that they can access the digital hypermart on their mobile phones. Next, a warung owner can browse and order from hundreds of competitively-priced groceries and fast-moving consumer goods and even enjoy same-day delivery from a stock point located within a 10-kilometer radius, at no extra cost.

The digital platform providing this useful service, Aksesmu, leverages the public cloud to support the warungs. They use the application development platform, load balancing and caching capabilities, advanced relational databases, content delivery network and team collaboration tools from Google Cloud to run the virtual hypermart.

Said the firm’s Commercial General Manager, Yosef Risdianto: “We have designed a digital platform that is easily accessible and addresses warung owners’ most urgent needs. We will continue collaborating with Google Cloud to enhance and scale our platform, so that we can accelerate digital inclusion for all 3.6 million warungs scattered across the Indonesian archipelago.”

Besides the hypermart, the digital platform also helps warung owners with cash flow management by supplying book-keeping and pay-later services from local fintech players. Then, to give warung owners new revenue streams, Aksesmu interoperates with providers of prepaid mobile top-up services and electricity tokens to allow warungs to sell e-vouchers to customers via its platform.

More warung DX on the horizon

As part of the next phase of its collaboration with Google Cloud, Aksesmu is exploring the use of data analytics, AI and ML to provide even better services to warung owners. Possible use cases include understanding the warung customer base’s buying behavior to recommend new inventory, or displaying targeted ads more prominently to increase sales.

Another possibility is to help make the warung discoverable by nearby consumers using Google Maps or Search.

According to Megawaty Khie, Country Director, Indonesia, Google Cloud: “Indonesia’s MSMEs are the lifeblood of our communities, and Aksesmu contributes significantly to our country’s goal of integrating 30 million MSMEs into the digital ecosystem by 2024.”

By tapping scalable, open source and secure infrastructure to design and delivered an accessible and feature-rich platform that is benefitting 100,000 early adopters in a soft launch, Aksesmu’s continuous innovation efforts “will not only help to protect more warung owners’ livelihoods and improve their competitiveness, but will also create a robust retail distribution ecosystem to aid Indonesia’s economic recovery and long-term growth,” Khie said.