Can technology digitally transform the street vendors in Indonesia? Source: Shutterstock

Can technology digitally transform the street vendors in Indonesia? Source: Shutterstock

How technology is transforming the smallest street vendors in Indonesia

ALTHOUGH Indonesia is going digital at an incredible pace, street vendors in the country have been slow to adapt and leverage technology to benefit or grow their business.

Technology companies in the country such as Warung Pintar and Wahyoo are changing that quickly.

Using closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV cameras), these technology startups are helping street vendors collect data about their customers, tracking their gender, approximate age, and choices, all of which are analyzed to improve how the vendor markets, distributes, and engages with customers in the future.

According to one of the firms who spoke to media recently, technology has helped about 1,000 street vendors so far and has the potential to transform thousands more in the coming year.

“We realized there was a data blind spot in warung [street vendor outlets]. A lot of things were happening there that we didn’t know about. There’s a lot of opportunities in warung [street vendor outlets] because the community and the economy are there, but there was no technology that empowered them,” Warung Pintar Co-Founder Harya Putra told media.

Thanks to the support of such technology firms, the street vendors are not only able to collect data and better interpret the needs of their customers but also increase foot traffic by renting out power banks, offering free wi-fi, and making it possible to buy train and plane tickets.

Since many Indonesians now use mobile devices and prefer mobile payments over cash, street vendors working with technology firms often choose to register to accept mobile payment via wallets such as Go-Pay and Ovo.

Wahyoo, who works with street vendors who sell food, claims it is helping 2,000 outlets in the country streamline and modernize themselves.

“We want to be the biggest digital warung [street vendor outlets] operator in Indonesia. In the future, we want to enable a point-of-sale system that will allow us to find out the bestsellers on the menu and identify consumers’ profiles,” Wahyoo Founder Peter Shearer told the media.

Wahyoo and Warung Pintar are both incredibly successful in Indonesia — which also means they have their hands full and cannot service applications as quickly as they’d like.

“We need to be fast. As of today, we have over 22,000 warungs [street vendor outlets] that have registered with us to be a smart warung, but we don’t have the capacity to process their requests in a prompt manner,” Warung Pintar’s Putra explained.

Given the accelerated rate at which the country is climbing the digital maturity curve, technology is bound to impact all areas of society. The willingness of small businesses to take up technology projects — however small — is a positive sign in any case.