Convenience store, or also known as corner store and corner shop, is a mini market, with the air-con setup and friendly staff, usually selling a range of everyday items such as groceries, toiletries, alcoholic and soft drinks, etc. This store can be found almost everywhere; in gas stations, at corners of intersections, within a housing complex, within a mall, or just on the side of the street.
Convenience stores have come into existence in Indonesia since the last decade. Based on my knowledge, the first convenience store opened in Indonesia was Indomaret, which concept was a lot like Wal-Mart, the most well-known convenience store in the US. Subsequently, other brands of convenience stores started doing business in Indonesia, featuring their distinctive service and concept.
Indomaret and Alfamart
As mentioned before, Indomaret was the first known convenience store brand in Indonesia. Themed in blue, yellow and red colour, this convenience store now has a large number of branches across Indonesian archipelago. Located in various residential, commercial and tourism areas, Indomaret can now be found in almost every town and city in Indonesia.
A competing brand, Alfamart, another convenience store similar to Indomaret, is almost always found within Indomaret’s vicinity. No one really knows the reason these two convenience stores are located near to each other, despite their provision of similar goods and service. Rumours have spread saying that both convenience stores have the same individual or corporate owner. However, no one has seemed to figure out the truth.
On the open space outside these stores, some street vendors open their stalls; some sell a variety of fruit juices; others fried snacks or tidbits (gorengan), etc. These vendors may need to pay a rental fee to the store owners.
Technically, Yomart is similar to Indomaret and Alfamart. The only different thing is that Yomart is painted green and yellow.
Other brand established in Indonesia is Circle K. Circle K is segmented for young and teen consumers. Unlike Indomaret and Alfamart, which sell daily necessities, this America-origin store stocks mostly various kinds of drinks, snacks, and cigarettes. Circle K usually opens 24 hours a day and also provides benches outside its premises, for customers to relax and enjoy their groceries.
Circle K has been noted to be the trend-setter of teen convenience store for providing a convenient spot to ‘hang-out’ for its customers. This is why, every night, many teenagers are seen smoking, grabbing a bite, or simply chatting amongst them in front of Circle K.
Seven Eleven / 7-11
Seven Eleven (or commonly called Sevel) is the most famous convenience store brand in Indonesia, especially Jakarta. As time goes by, its outlets have been nominated as must-visit places for socialites to hang out. This store operates from 7 am to 11 pm, hence the name “Seven Eleven”.
Not only does it provide groceries, Seven Eleven also offers hang-out spots, equipped with Wi-Fi connection, inside and outside the store. Products available are not like those we may find in Indomaret, Yomart, or Cirkle K, but more to unique beverages and snacks, such as Slurpee (colorful frozen soda), Fake-cheese (literally!), some Japanese meals, and some meals I cannot identify. In addition, this store also sells various kinds of coffees, doughnuts, and even banana flavored dotted condom. What an offer! No, I never bought the condom. A friend of my friend did!
Just so you know, Yogya Express is not a night bus; it’s a convenience store!
I am not sure whether Yogya Express is available in other cities, but I found this convenience store in Bandung. Maybe this store can be found in Yogyakarta instead, since the name refers to the city, Yogya. Who knows!
This store is usually attached to a mall or supermarket. Just like Seven Eleven, this store provides groceries and hang-out spots, equipped with Wi-Fi connection, inside and outside of the store.
Yogya Express, in my opinion, is much more sophisticated in term or products offered as compared to Seven Eleven. This store has nasi kucing (a variation of meals containing a very little amount of rice and some scraps of side dishes – like cat’s meal, literally), various kinds of beverages just like ones in Seven Eleven (minus the Slurpee), soda freeze (Yogya Express’ version of Slurpee), self-service waffle, doughnuts, potato twist, sushi, dim sum, hamburger, hotdog, pancake, French fries, salad, rujak (a combination of fruits poured with either spicy or sweet sauce), spaghetti, sandwich, and instant and prepared meals that can be cooked or heated onsite.
Lawson is the latest brand of convenience store that has recently been opened in Indonesia. It only has a few stores in Jakarta, thus people have not really recognized its presence yet.
This convenience store targets teen and young workers as their main customers. The concept is similar to Seven Eleven’s — hang-out spots and Wi-Fi connectivity. I personally have never visited this store, so I do not know what it provides. Rumour has it that this Japanese-origin store provides original in-store cooking products such as Oden (is a Japanese winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon radish, konnyaku, and processed fish cakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth), rice balls and porridge.
Well, I wonder to what extend the establishment of convenience stores will affect teenagers and young adults in Indonesia.
Indonesia shines for retail investment
Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia, is ranked the world’s fifth most-attractive market for retail investment in AT Kearney’s 2016 Global Retail Development Index.
In previous years it has ranked in the top 20.
It is an exciting time to be investing in Indonesia’s retail sector, the index says. The country scores 64.3 in market size (out of a 0-100 scale) and low in country risk (38.9) – lower than the top three markets, China, India and Malaysia. Urgency to enter the market is rated at 68.9, and the overall score of 55.6 is just one point behind Kazakhstan.
“Despite its relatively low retail sales per capita and currency volatility, Indonesia’s huge population and cities make it quite attractive to foreign retailers, which see untapped potential in the country and are investing heavily in new development,” says the report, which covers 30 developing countries that represent more than half of total global retail sales.
This is reflected by burgeoning foreign retail investments in the country, reports the Jakarta Post. It cites Dubai-based Lulu, which opened its first hypermarket in Indonesia this month with an investment plan of US$500 million covering nine hypermarkets and a warehouse. Meanwhile, Singapore’s Courts, South Korea’s Lotte, and Ikea and H&M from Sweden all have a presence and expansion plans in Indonesia. Courts plans to open four stores by next March to add to its existing five, and has seen its sales growth double since opening in 2014.
Indonesian convenience stores Alfamart and Indomaret have also been expanding. Indomaret plans to add 1600 outlets this year to its 12,210 stores, while Alfamart is aiming for six-fold sales growth this year driven by its upgraded online presence.
The government has opened up eCommerce to foreign ownership where the business value is more than Rp100 billion (US$7.49 million). According to the Indonesian eCommerce Association (Idea), eCommerce transactions are expected to reach $24.6 billion this year, three times more than in 2013.
Indonesian retailers Matahari and Mitra Adi Perkasa have launched online shopping, while grocers Alfamart and Happy Fresh are extending their online offering.