Honestbee, a grocery delivery service backed by Formation 8, has launched in Taipei, its fourth city so far. Services are already available in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Niseko, Japan. During the first half of this year, Honestbee also plans to expand into Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta.
Based in Singapore, Honestbee raised a $15 million Series A last year that is earmarked for international growth.
Honestbee operates similarly to Instacart because it sends shoppers to grocery stores to pick up items for customers instead of maintaining its own inventory. The company promises same day delivery. Customers pay store prices for groceries purchased through Honestbee, which monetizes by charging a flat delivery fee (though that is currently being waived for purchases over $199) and splitting revenue with retail partners.
In addition to large grocery chains, Honestbee also works with smaller specialty merchants, like organic food stores and wine sellers, that want to reach more customers but don’t have the resources to set up their own online stores. Increasing its roster of sellers that aren’t on other platforms is one of the ways Honestbee hopes to differentiate from competitors like HappyFresh, a Jakarta-based chain that is also tackling expansion throughout Asia.
Though Taiwan is often overlooked as a potential market by consumer tech startups, Honestbee co-founder and chief executive officer Joel Sng said it was on Honestbee’s list because one-third of consumers there already order grocery products online and one-half say they would be willing to buy groceries online in the future.
“People in Taiwan are very busy, and more often than that, grocery shopping tends to be a bit of a chore,” Sng tells TechCrunch. “We have conducted research and found out that people spend three hours per week on average to do grocery shopping. This brings us to 156 hours per year which can be saved to focus on something that matters more.”