Digitizing the Corner Shop

Indonesia’s corner shops—known as warungs—are vital to the local economy

Figure 1 Indonesia Figure 1 Indonesia

We spoke to 200 warung merchants and 200 of their customers. Here’s what we heard.

Photo 1 Indonesia Photo 1 Indonesia

The warung is here to stay: 98% of customers plan to shop as much or more

Figure 2 Indonesia Figure 2 Indonesia

The local market is still relevant: Most customers shop daily at their local warung, versus only 10% who shop online

Figure 3 Indonesia Figure 3 Indonesia

“I stop by the neighborhood warung every day. It’s nearby, affordable, they sell a wide range of products, and the owner always has a smile for his customers—I have known him for a long time.”

The warung plays a valuable role in the community, providing convenience, customer service, and credit

Figure 4 Indonesia Figure 4 Indonesia
Photo 2 Indonesia Photo 2 Indonesia

Shopkeepers are are adopting digital tools and are eager for more

Figure 5 Indonesia Figure 5 Indonesia

Photo courtesy of TaniHub

“I didn’t have many customers when I first opened, but I’ve been able to sell much more because of my online presence. I don’t have to go to wholesalers because I can buy online at a reasonable price. Digital apps have greatly helped me buy and sell goods, so of course I’ll use more of them in the future.”

Most shopkeepers have some comfort with digital tools, but barriers remain

Figure 6 Indonesia Figure 6 Indonesia

“I don’t have information about the digital tools that I might actually need. I might use more if there were salespeople who could introduce me to them and help me use them.”

Figure 6b Indonesia Figure 6b Indonesia

“I’m busy taking care of my physical store, and so I don’t have time to build an online store presence.”

35% of customers had no complaints with their corner shop, while others cited a desire for more product variety

Figure 7 Indonesia Figure 7 Indonesia
Photo 3 Indonesia Photo 3 Indonesia

Shopkeepers struggle to finance their stores and face difficulties purchasing and managing inventory

Figure 8 Indonesia Figure 8 Indonesia

“It often takes a full week to receive products, and I have to follow up to make sure that my goods arrive. Purchasing my products online will save time and ensure timely delivery.”

Quote 6 Indonesia Quote 6 Indonesia

Warungs accept a wide range of payments in their stores

Stats Indonesia Stats Indonesia
Figure 9 Indonesia Figure 9 Indonesia

Embedded finance can unlock opportunities that have eluded traditional financial institutions

Figure 10 Indonesia Figure 10 Indonesia
Photo 4 Indonesia Photo 4 Indonesia

Warung shopkeepers have ambitions to grow and improve their stores so they can continue to play a vital role in their communities. At Flourish, we believe digital platforms have an opportunity to support them in this journey.

Figure 11 Indonesia Figure 11 Indonesia

Merchant and Customer Voices: Who We Spoke To

200 Warung Merchants Across 5 Cities

41%  Female

59%  Male


36%  30–39
28%  40–49
14%  50+

Less than 1 year
1–2 years
2–3 years
3–5 years
5+ years

Less than 500
Not sure / prefer not to answer

200 Warung Customers Across 3 Cities

55%  Female

46%  Male


24%  20–29
29%  30–39
27%  40–49
16%  50+


Flourish Ventures launched this research to better understand corner shops across the globe and share learnings on how digital firms can serve their needs.

In partnership with research firm 60 Decibels and e-commerce platform TaniHub, we surveyed 200 Indonesian corner shop owners and 200 of their customers to learn firsthand about their business pain points, competitive threats, aspirations, and digital behaviors.

Authors: Smita Aggarwal, Stella Klemperer

Flourish is a global venture firm investing in entrepreneurs whose innovations advance economic opportunity and financial health for individuals and small businesses. We partner with industry leaders in research, policy, and regulation to better understand the underserved and help foster a fair, more inclusive economy.

60 Decibels is a tech-enabled social impact measurement and customer insights company working in over 75 countries. They combine deep impact measurement expertise, an integrated technology backbone, and a global network of 900+ researchers to make it easy for companies and organizations to listen to the people who matter most.

TaniHub is Indonesia’s leading agritech and e-groceries start-up that connects farmers to supermarkets, warungs, hotels and restaurants for supply for fresh produce and food products.