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A kiosk in Jakarta serving as a Bukalapak "agent." Its owner buys his daily supply of goods through the company's smartphone app. (Photo by Erwida Maulia)
Startups in Asia

Indonesia's Bukalapak connects kiosk shoppers to the web

Unicorn uses mom and pop shops to reach archipelago's poorest

WATARU SUZUKI and ERWIDA MAULIA, Nikkei staff writers | Indonesia

TOKYO / JAKARTA -- On a narrow street behind towering office buildings in central Jakarta, Mulyono has been running a small kiosk for the past four years. Until recently, the 31-year-old small-business owner had been procuring his daily supply of goods -- grocery items like instant noodles, coffee sachets, shampoo and soap -- from local distributors. That started to change in June, when a salesman from Indonesian e-commerce startup Bukalapak showed him how to purchase his supplies on its smartphone app.

"Now I buy everything via Bukalapak ... cellphone credits, cigarettes, instant noodles, even sandals," said Mulyono, sitting under a sign at his store that reads "Bukalapak agent." Like many Indonesians, Mulyono goes by one name. "Everything is cheaper, and the delivery is free." He even receives cash back for buying the goods through the app's electronic payment service and penalty payments if the morning order does not arrive by the end of the day.

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