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Kuala Lumpur, Feb 22: Did you know that Indonesian headquartered online grocery platform HappyFresh is headed by a Spaniard?
As the fastest-growing online grocery platform in Southeast Asia (SEA) with presence in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, HappyFresh is led by Guillem Segarra as its CEO since its inception in 2014.
The online platform aims to provide easy and convenient grocery shopping experience, with high-quality and freshly handpicked produce brought right to their customers’ doorsteps with free delivery provided at every order.
DailyStraits.com recently caught up with Segarra and asked him a barrage of questions such as why he chose to set up shop in SEA instead of his native Spain and much more. Without further ado, let’s read the interview below:
Who are the founders of this business and what was the reasoning behind starting this business?
HappyFresh was founded in 2014 by seasoned entrepreneurs. It has been operating since March 2015. Headquartered in Indonesia, HappyFresh now operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. HappyFresh was built to simplify people’s lives: grocery shopping is complicated! Going to the nearest supermarket in a congested city like Kuala Lumpur would require being caught in traffic for 15 to 30 minutes merely to shop and carry all the heavy shopping bags while returning home in the same traffic. It would have taken at least half a day, if not more, to complete this process. We wanted to relieve those aches and pains for ourselves and everyone else who felt the same way. Today, e-grocery is becoming the standard, and customers can utilise the time and energy they once spent on weekly grocery trips.
In which country did the business first get its start?
Founded in Indonesia in 2014, HappyFresh is headquartered in Indonesia and operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. At the moment, we’ll be focusing on these markets, increasing our reach into other 2nd tier cities and perfecting HappyFresh Supermarket’s operations. We strive to deliver the best to our customers, and want to ensure that we’re completely dedicated to the markets we currently operate in.
As a Spaniard, what made you want to come and start a business in Asia?
As an engineer, I got the opportunity to do my master’s in Asia – which I felt was a fantastic opportunity to learn and explore the world. I came across an operations internship position at Lazada Indonesia in 2013 after I graduated, and was extremely curious about Indonesia and the rest of the SouthEast Asian region. I did not hesitate and took that opportunity and stayed around the region since then. I feel – and like everything in life – that there are pros and cons. Southeast Asia presents the most exciting opportunity of all, fast-paced developments driven by the digitalisation of massive and traditional industries. The key is to be very conscious and intentional in your shortcomings – and ensure you build a system around you to mitigate these while doubling down on your advantages. The same concept applies to starting a company no matter whether it is in your home country or not. I like to believe that we live in a world where there should not be a deciding factor for success.
What are some of HappyFresh business expansion plans for this year?
As the fastest-growing online grocery platform in Southeast Asia, we’ve started 2022 with a bang by launching HappyFresh Supermarket, which is to extend fresh and dry grocery accessibility by significantly growing our warehouse presence in the region. HappyFresh Supermarket has launched in key cities in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, including Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok, and is rapidly expanding across the markets, with over 15,000 SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) that are stocked in three closely monitored temperature zones in our facilities to ensure the freshness of the products. We will continue to focus our efforts on providing a convenient and safe service, and we will be enhancing our existing operating model together with the partnerships we already have with supermarket retailers across the region. This will unlock the additional operational efficiency, higher service levels and quality controls to improve customer experience further. We want our customers to get all the groceries they need at the freshest condition and even faster speed, ensuring an effortless online grocery shopping experience.
How has business been so far?
After two years of the pandemic, we have doubled our fleet size, acquired new customers, and improved services in a short period. However, it is critical to note that the pandemic does not appear to be fading away. We believe COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact on consumer behaviour, and not just for online groceries, most retail businesses are accelerating their digital presence and offering. We evaluate every suggestion from consumers and try to always update and develop various features that can provide convenience and satisfaction for HappyFresh application users when shopping, such as Express Delivery, HappyFresh Rewards Program where consumers can collect points to be used as discounts on their next purchases on top of our daily promotions. The pandemic also caused supply chain problems, with delayed shipping affecting the supply of fresh produce, resulting in a grocery store shortage. We deal with various local suppliers at HappyFresh, and we apply strict quality control to all products to guarantee their freshness and quality, particularly for our fresh produce.
In Asia, people are very used to getting their vegetables at the wet market. How does HappyFresh aim to disrupt this scene?
We see a big shift in customers’ behaviour, retention and frequency rates have significantly increased while the overall basket size has been consistently growing. Long checkout lines, empty grocery shelves, lack of staff, plus the dread of contracting the coronavirus are all matters that would attribute to the surge of consumers’ high appetite in opting for e-groceries instead. The option to shop virtually also presents many benefits in these unprecedented times, as everything is just at the tip of their fingers. The adoption of e-wallet payments also contributed to this, as there are plenty of online payment methods to accompany the cashless society we are living in now. Consumers can survey the vast options available online. Digital consumers now play a larger role than offline channels. We aim to deliver our customer’s the same experience online, by providing only freshly handpick items that we’ve specially sourced out. Afterall, one of our company’s culture pillars is ‘Customer, customer, customer’ where we focus on what the customer is looking for in an online grocery shopping experience.
Is HappyFresh still looking for investments?
HappyFresh is always open for new opportunities to expand our business. This opportunity will enable HappyFresh to continue its focus on building a sustainably profitable company with primary markets in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Finally, why did you choose Indonesia as the business’ headquarters?
Indonesia was the beginning of the HappyFresh story. It started with the experiences of CTO & Co-Founder Fajar Budiprasetyo, after a series of weekly grocery shopping trips with his wife, which made him think whether he could simplify the routines. Long story short, Fajar and a few other co-founders started to build HappyFresh with 12 people and six developers for the app at the end of 2014. Since then, we have continuously evolved and delivered groceries to more countries, more cities, and eventually we want to serve the majority of households in Southeast Asia. We want to be on everyone’s top of mind whenever people think about groceries.
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June Ramli is the editor of DailyStraits.com. To stay in touch with June, look her up on Twitter @junesairaramli