Sanga and Mahela venture into online grocery retail with Providore
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena need no introduction when it comes to the world of cricket. What may be less commonly known is that they are also intrepid entrepreneurs, seeking out meaningful, quality investments to positively impact everyday life.
They have personally invested themselves in many successful start-up ventures, their latest being Providore, an online grocery and household marketplace for Sri Lanka.
Being familiar with online grocery retail due to frequent overseas travel and having come to appreciate a certain delivery and service standard, Co-founder and Partner Sangakkara stated, “COVID has changed the way most of us live. Working from home, distance learning and video calls are a part of everyday life now, as is taking the necessary precautions for the safety of ourselves, our families and the greater community. So not only was it important to bring safe and reliable online grocery shopping to Sri Lanka, but also to provide exceptional service and customer experience. Together with our founding partners, we set out to build something that would re-define online grocery shopping and delivery.”
The result of this collaboration was Providore, an exciting new grocery-tech app purpose-built for the Sri Lankan market. With functionality such as real-time stock visibility, order scheduling up to four weeks in advance, express two-hour deliveries, My Shopping List for quick ordering, multiple payment options and a dedicated delivery fleet with infrastructure for transporting different types of products (including cold chain delivery), the Providore experience promises customers a service like no other. But it isn’t only about differentiated convenience.
“Online grocery shopping can make our lives safer and easier, but we have to remember that this is food – you need to know how it is stored, handled, transported and finally delivered to you, with the peace of mind that all necessary processes and safeguards are always in place,” said Co-founder and Partner Jayawardena. “We must protect ourselves and our families. Online grocery shopping is safer for everyone.”
Aside from Sangakkara and Jayawardena, the other founding partners comprise the executive directorship of the company, bringing together experience from IT, F&B and Hospitality, Retail and Finance. The technology solution was developed in collaboration with leading eCommerce and technology providers from both Sri Lanka and the US. And a John Keells Logistics (JKL) partnership for their expertise in backend logistics.
“EFutures is our strategic technology partner and was instrumental in using best in class of technologies to execute our vision. The mandate being to view every aspect of the solution from a consumer’s perspective and not a retailer’s. And together, we created a purpose-built, fully functional shopping experience, that ensures a seamless customer experience from order placement to delivery. That is the Providore promise,” said CEO Meneka Galgamuwa, emphasising that data analytics and AI will also play a key role in focused, individualised customer experience going forward.
“The modern customer is an informed, smart customer. Over 60% of our customer making frequent, repeat purchases. They see the difference, not only in service, but also in the quality of our products. We carefully select our suppliers, so we can stand by our quality guarantee.”
In order to ensure logistics were aligned to support the technology solution, Providore partnered with JKL to run their backend processes out of a dedicated 20,000 sq foot warehouse and Fulfillment Centre in Rajagiriya.
Unlike most online retailers who use third party delivery platforms, Providore chose to include delivery as part of their service as “it was the only way to control the end-to-end customer experience and guarantee safe and hygienic handling and transport of food items,” said COO Janaka Marasinghe.
“The Providore proposition centres around the customer, creating convenience and fulfilling their needs. Partnering with JKL was crucial as they not only brought years of experience in 3PL, but also provide for scaling as the business grows. But understanding our customer is paramount. We presently have over 1,200 products, but will grow this over time to ensure we consistently cater to our customers’ basket requirements.”
From daily essentials, fresh produce, meats and seafood, everyday supermarket items, premium imported selections, ready-to-eat meals and speciality artisan products, Providore offers a carefully curated inventory for a diverse spectrum of consumers. They strongly believe in giving a platform for small, local manufacturers and strive to improve sustainability. They work with Polydime International, the largest recycler of HDPE plastics, whereby their shopping bags come from recycled landfill and can be collected to be recycled once again.
Providore presently services Central and Greater Colombo areas and delivers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (365 days a year).