Indonesia's sprawling archipelago has long been a headache for logistics companies, but there's no lack of brave challengers. Jarkata-based Astro, which provides 15-minute grocery delivery, has recently closed a $60 million Series B financing round, lifting its total funding to $90 million since the business launched just nine months ago.
The Series B round was led by Accel, Citius and Tiger Global, with participation from existing investors AC Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Lightspeed and Sequoia Capital India. The company declined to disclose its post-money valuation.
The speed at which Astro is attracting investment goes to show the need for hefty upfront investment in the grocery delivery race, which is about establishing a logistics infrastructure quickly and locking in loyal customers ahead of rivals. Founded by Tokopedia veteran Vincent Tjendra, Astro plans to spend its funding proceeds on user acquisition, product development and hiring more staff to add to its current team of 200.
As in many countries around the world, on-demand delivery got a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. But e-grocery penetration in the country remains low and is estimated to be just 0.5% by 2022, compared to China's 6% and South Korea's 34% in 2020.
That means there's a huge opportunity for companies like Astro that are trying to prove the convenience of online grocery ordering over brick-and-mortar visits. The e-grocery delivery market in Indonesia is projected to reach $6 billion by 2025.
Astro offers 15-minute delivery within a range of 2-3 km through its network of rented "dark stores," which are distribution hubs set up for online shopping only. The company has opted for a cash-intensive model, as it owns the entire user journey going from inventory sourcing, supply chain, mid-mile to last-mile delivery. The benefit of this heavyweight approach is that it gets to monitor the quality of customer experience.
Astro currently operates in around 50 locations across Greater Jakarta, an area with 30 million residents, through a fleet of about 1,000 delivery drivers. Revenues grew more than 10x over the past few months and downloads hit 1 million, the company said.
The startup is competing with incumbents like Sayurbox, HappyFresh and TaniHub to win over users. Its customers range from working professionals to young parents at home "who seek convenience," said Tjendra.
Grocery delivery is notoriously cash-burning, but Tjendra reckoned margins will improve as the business scales. The company's main source of revenue is the gross margin it earned from the goods sold and delivery fees customers pay. A large chunk of the business's costs comes from delivery, which the founder believed "will come down over time as we deploy for hubs and subsequently reduce the delivery distance areas."