Grab has launched a new B2B marketplace service on its platform, Grab Merchant, to help Southeast Asia’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grow and manage their online businesses.
During an online media briefing on Monday, Grab shared that SME merchants will be able to source wholesale supplies and build and execute ads through the newly-launched service. The Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant also expects to roll out financial services dedicated to SME merchants in the coming months via its financial arm, GrabPay.
Food and beverage merchants (F&B) which had previously been using GrabFood’s merchant app will be diverted to this Grab Merchant app, consolidating Grab’s merchant base across F&B (GrabFood), groceries (GrabMart) and existing merchants which currently adopt GrabPay as a payment solution. According to Grab, the firm has seen about 120,000 new merchants join the platform over the COVID-19 season from March to May.
“COVID-19 has accelerated change. We have seen dependency on online services grow exponentially almost overnight. This is spurring innovation in Southeast Asia, but is also putting us at risk of widening the digital divide…We hope to help small businesses navigate this new normal. We will draw on our technology and reach to find new ways of doing business that can inclusively support everyone,” said Hooi Ling Tan, co-founder, Grab.
The launch of Grab Merchant indicates a growing focus by Grab in areas where it sees growing consumer demand as Southeast Asians avoid public or shared transport due to lockdown measures and fears of contracting the COVID-19 virus. This has impacted Grab’s core ride-hailing business significantly.
Russell Cohen, Grab’s group managing director of operations, shared that more than half of the company’s gross merchandise value (GMV) comes from non-transport related areas, which include food and groceries delivery. He did not share details on Grab’s growth projections or how this breakdown between its transport and non-transport businesses will evolve in the coming months.
The launch of Grab Merchant also places the Southeast Asian decacorn in direct competition with several smaller startups like GudangAda and Ralali which are also B2B marketplaces targeted at Indonesia’s SMEs and warungs.
Indonesia’s e-commerce unicorns like Tokopedia and Bukalapak also provide similar services that cater directly to SMEs, including allowing them to set up a digital storefront and applying for financial services such as SME loans.