Kudo is targeting rural residents to get them online

A new breed of startups are trying to tackle rural ecommerce in Southeast Asia, reports Tech In Asia.

Kudo agents source products from a number of ecommerce stores. The agents typically sit in mom and pop stores in rural Indonesia and install the app to sell a wider variety of goods without having to stock them.

The agents will help customers to pick items from the app’s product channels, place an order, and take cash in return.

From countries such as Cambodia to the Philippines, this is a common problem for ecommerce companies; most people are not familiar with the tools that would help them shop online.

Most  importantly, people need a bank account to make payments. In Indonesia, more than half of the population over the age of 15 do not have one. As a result of this, less than 1% of Indonesians actually shop online.

The untapped window of missed opportunities is large, especially for people living in remote areas. Agung Nugroho wants to solve that problem by working with small town shopkeepers and turning them into ‘agents’ that help others make online purchases. This is how his new startup, Kudo, was born.

Kudo’s network of agents grew from just hundreds in May last year to over 100,000 currently. 50% of agents are in Java, while the remaining 50% are spread out across other provinces, to Aceh to Papua.

Maybe you don’t trust the online seller, but you would definitely trust the owner of the small shop next to your house, who happens to be a Kudo agent. – Agung Nugroho.

The startup also plays a role in last mile delivery. Trusted shopkeepers who are familiar with the neighborhoods can fill that gap.

One of the best selling items is gold. People buy gold from certified merchants on ecommerce marketplace Bukalapak, which is one of the shops connected with Kudo’s app. It is considered a safe way to invest for the future.

Kudo’s next goal is to have one million agents spread across the country. Agung hints that the startup is making several million US dollars in monthly transactions.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on August 10. Read the full version here

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