Keeping Bangkok’s street food culture alive
A new food delivery app built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping small food vendors in Thailand affected by the pandemic to stay in business, and increase their profits
For schoolteacher Papaporn Montreecharoen, who lives in Thailand, starting a business in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity.
She set up her coconut water brand Hom Mapraw, which means ‘aromatic coconut’, to generate an additional source of income to support eight family members, including two elder siblings, and her young nieces and nephews.
Montreecharoen—who produces fresh juice and other food products from the coconuts on her family’s land outside central Bangkok—is one of thousands of street food vendors in the region that have been able to expand their customer base in tough times thanks to Robinhood, a new delivery app created especially for small businesses like hers.
Developed by AWS customer Purple Ventures, part of the Siam Commercial Bank Group (SCB Group), Robinhood is helping independent restaurants and stalls in Bangkok survive the brutal impact of COVID-19, which has all but removed the foot traffic on which they traditionally relied.
The app, which allows vendors to sell their products at zero commission to an increasing base of over 1 million consumers, also gives delivery riders the opportunity to rent motorbikes at low- to no-cost, as well as undertake courier work in addition to delivering food.
It has already attracted more than 100,000 food stalls and 15,000 riders, many of whom are using a food delivery app for the first time.
By enabling vendors to reach a much wider customer base, Robinhood has proved a lifeline for small business owners like Sittichan Wutthipornkul, who runs the family restaurant his father set up in 1965, selling a secret recipe of braised beef and noodles, and saw his revenue drop by half overnight as the pandemic took hold.
Wutthipornkul, who had never sold online before using Robinhood, said the app is not only an affordable way to keep his business going, it is also helping him to increase orders.
“Small street food vendors in Bangkok have faced enormous challenges to stay afloat during the pandemic,” said Thana Thienachariya, chairman of Purple Ventures, the subsidiary of SCB that developed the app.
“Statistics show that about 25,000 of the city’s 150,000 small vendors have already been forced to close. These businesses are part of the fabric of life here. We wanted to find a way to support them.”
Using AWS, Thienachariya and his team were able to develop and launch Robinhood in only three months, creating a model that can process up to 3,000 food orders per minute and has reduced meal delivery times by half by recommending vendors located closest to customers.
Aside from charging zero commission, Robinhood’s other key differentiator is speed of payment.
While most other food delivery apps usually transfer payment to vendors and riders within 10-15 days, Robinhood ensures they receive funds in under an hour, a feature Thienachariya said is crucial to these small businesses’ survival.
“We spoke to a lot of small food stall owners while developing the app and this was a real pain point for them,” he said. “They simply can’t afford to wait that long to get paid. It’s the same for delivery riders.”
“Because we’re a bank, this is one area where we have a clear advantage in terms of the service we can provide to customers.”
Robinhood continues to grow, as and more small street food vendors are using its services, while more consumers are seeking familiar tastes they used to enjoy, or discovering new ones the app has brought to their attention.
“This technology has had a huge impact on my business,” said Montreecharoen, whose coconut product sales have increased by almost 75% since she joined Robinhood. “I never imagined that I could sell my products to such a wide range of people in Bangkok.”
Data to visualize:
AWS technology is enabling Robinhood to:
- Process up to 3,000 food orders per minute
- Transfer funds between customers, riders, and vendors in under an hour
- Process refunds instantly
- Reduce meal delivery times by up to 50% by recommending vendors located closest to customers
About Amazon Web Services
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