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In the Philippines, the sari-sari store is your one-stop shop for everything you need. It has all the essentials—from canned goods to laundry needs, personal hygiene products to school supplies—a few steps away from your home. With its unbeatable convenience and affordability, the sari-sari store has become an integral part of Filipinos’ everyday life.
Many of these stores, however, fail to stay in business for long due to many factors, one of which is the inaccurate monitoring of stocks and profits, specially by store owners who rely on the traditional pen-and-paper method of tracking inventory and sales.
This is what inspired Nel Laygo and Aiko Reyes to start Peddlr, a digital and financial fintech startup company in Catbalogan, Samar. It helps micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in managing inventories and doing automated bookkeeping, among other manual processes, all in one app.
“Peddlr's primary objective is to support and improve the operations of micro and small business owners by providing a free and easy-to-use digital tool. Our goal is to help these businesses digitalize their operations and thrive in the current market,” said Reyes, chief operating officer.
Launched in July 2021, Peddlr has grown from a humble start-up to an app that has accumulated over two million downloads during its first year in business, staying true to its slogan “Mobile App ng Wais na Tindera.”
“Our mission is to provide micro and small business owners the necessary tools to embrace the digital world, manage their operations more effectively, and increase profitability. We firmly believe that technology should be accessible to all businesses regardless of size,” said Laygo, the app’s chief executive officer.
“With this in mind, we strive to empower business owners with user-friendly and efficient solutions to help them achieve their goals,” he added.
Pedaling to success
Peddlr got its name from the word “peddler,” a person who goes from one place to another selling small items. The mobility of this job allows the peddler to move forward, quite literally, towards different destinations and eventually to success.
“Similar to the bicycle pedal that propels the bike forward, we aspire to serve as the driving force for MSMEs by facilitating their growth and development. Our company logo features a bicycle pedal to represent our commitment to supporting MSMEs as they move forward in their business ventures,” Laygo explained.
Peddlr features a point-of-sale (POS) system that allows business owners to record their sales in one go, as well as inventory management that lets them trace the status of their products in real-time. The app is designed to provide work both online and offline even without an Internet connection, so entrepreneurs need not worry about poor signal and slow internet.
Moreover, it creates a multiple revenue system for MSMEs as it houses a B2B e-commerce function, allowing businesses to purchase fast-moving consumer goods, POS devices, and consumer-packaged goods straight from the app, and digital products where they can use e-load, bills payment, and gaming pins as an extra source of income.
“Peddlr offers a comprehensive digital infrastructure that allows micro and small business owners to efficiently manage their sales, report, and increase revenue through our innovative features, all from the convenience of their mobile phones,” Reyes said.
“By leveraging Peddlr, business owners can streamline their operations, resulting in faster and more efficient processes. With this newfound efficiency, business owners have more time to dedicate to growth-oriented tasks such as strategic planning to further enhance and expand their enterprise,” she added.
Bridging the gap with users
The founders of Peddlr recalled how their business began, which was during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being fully aware of their target market and the potential of their business, they faced tons of challenges, including their market having little to no knowledge about what they have to offer.
“To overcome this hurdle, we pursued an organic approach by conducting online farming activities to increase user acquisition and build brand awareness,” Laygo shared.
By the first week of the app’s roll-out, the founders noticed through their data that people who downloaded the app only used it for an average of seven days. Thinking of a solution, Laygo asked users about their perspectives on the app.
“It was like an ‘Aha’ moment for us. The insights were interesting. Apparently, majority of the users whom we spoke to downloaded the app because they were looking for a solution to address their inventory tracking issues,” he said.
“They saw Peddlr as a very good solution fit for their requirements. But since we were new at that time and we have no brand recognition, users really don’t want to input their business information such as product prices and costs, suppliers, and customer details,” he added.
Learning that the problem stems from trust issues in different online tools and software due to rampant fraudulent activities such as scams and phishing, the Peddlr team created a Facebook group that gathered early app users and served as a platform where they could air their concerns.
“We ended up agreeing to make the mobile app offline and where the data is initially owned by the users, with them having options of sending records to our server for backup purposes because working offline means the data sets are saved only in their physical phone. Once the phone is lost or broken, its records are also gone,” Reyes said.
Hearing the concerns of their early users, the Peddlr team realized that this type of setback can be solved with more than just a simple app module iteration.
“It involves connecting deeply [with] and understanding where the users are coming from and finding common grounds where both our team and the users can bridge the gap of trust to convince them to use our then newly launched mobile app. Since then, that Facebook group had turned out to be a major jump pad of our organic growth,” Laygo said.
At present, the Facebook group they created stands as a community platform where users can ask questions and share tips and success stories they have experienced through Peddlr.
“For some users, it acts as a support group for motivation, specially for first-time tech users. For some, it is a community where old app users help new users get on board on how to use our mobile app,” Reyes described.
“Despite the arduous process, we found it rewarding to witness our user base grow exponentially, with over two million downloads within our first year. Moreover, we are pleased that our users have embraced digitalization, which has further propelled our company's growth,” Laygo said.
Uniting for business empowerment
The executives at Peddlr believe the best part about the company is seeing the team work towards fulfilling the company’s goal of empowering MSMEs. “Also, witnessing the heartfelt stories and testimonials shared by our Ka-Peddlrs on how Peddlr has helped to streamline and digitize their operations is incredibly gratifying,” Reyes enthused.
Asked if they have any advice for people who want to start a small business, Laygo suggested that they start now and communicate with their consumers.
“The best time to start is now. Be clear. Set goals and intentions. It will be easier to plan if you have an end goal in mind. Also, communicate clearly with your audience or customers,” he said. What's in store for Peddlr and its users? The founders kept it short but sweet: Stay tuned to their official Facebook group.
The Peddlr app is free to use and download on Google Play or the App Store.
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Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring, and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like Peddlr.