“Save Bodegas With Technology:” New York Winery Associations Seek To Boost Local Delivery App

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A week after asking the local government to help as a fast trade delivery apps continue to grow, New York’s bodegas have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Three organizations representing hundreds of the city’s bodegas support a fundraiser for My Bodega Online, a delivery application developed by and for bodega owners.

“The funds will help cover the cost of materials, equipment and local start-up marketing,” Jose Bello, CEO of My Bodega Online, said in a statement. “We are a grassroots start-up that seeks to ‘save bodegas through technology’. “

Bello, backed by the Yemeni American Merchants Association, United Bodegas of America, and the Bodega and Small Business Association, is looking to raise $ 37,500 for bodegas in the South Bronx to be trained and ready to start using the software – equip themselves to compete with the Tech startups, they fear, will threaten the future of bodegas.

JOKR’s micro-warehouse – or “dark store” – in the Financial District.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“This is the first time that the three of them, the three organizations, have all worked together on something,” Bello said. “For me, what is happening with the bodegas is this: they are afraid of crime and so on, and they want a solution for that. And then you have the fast trade.

Fast-paced commerce apps, like JOKR and Gorillas, which launched in the city earlier this year, have quickly gained popularity and traction. Venture-backed companies deliver groceries, toiletries and housewares in less than ten minutes to customers in their delivery radius, using small warehouses called “dark stores” and couriers on bicycles and electric scooters.

While service may seem like a threat to grocery stores at first glance, some bodega owners fear as low prices and fast delivery are encroaching on their niche – a quick stop for a handful of essentials.

Much of the money raised will go to “micro-marketing,” Bello said, conveying the message to customers that ordering from a bodega is even a possibility, and the rest will go to training and owner preparation. stores and their delivery people. They estimated that each store would need around $ 1,500 and chose 25 bodegas in the Bronx to start.

“The problem is, customers, I think, don’t see these mom-and-pop corner stores as a way to do my grocery shopping online,” Bello said. “The [bodegas] who already do the delivery over the phone, even though they have a hard time understanding, “Hey, there’s another way. “

The start of the fundraiser was a concrete step that Bello and organizations could take to protect these mom-and-pop stores, he said, as New Yorkers and local elected officials begin to realize the concerns about delivery applications.

Regarding training, said Bello, some wineries already have an informal delivery service. Regulars place an order over the phone, it’s written on a piece of paper, and the owner sends someone on an electric bike to drop it off nearby.

“Now they have to download the app, it’s an app for them, they have to approve the order, take the order, make the delivery, click again, it’s a process,” he said. “And then we realized that in the last three months you need a special personality or skills to do that. “

My Bodega online
My Bodega Online currently serves seven southern Bronx bodegas. Screenshot / Kirstyn Brendlen

The stores that Bello chose for the first fundraiser have already appointed delivery people, he said, but owners and couriers will receive training as they get used to a more formal delivery process and customer service oriented.

“To secure our service, we need to be part of the e-commerce revolution,” UBA President Radhames Rodriguez said in a statement. “We are asking New Yorkers to join this ‘Save Bodegas with Technology’ movement. We won’t go away like the neighborhood taxi driver bases disappeared a few years ago when Uber disrupted the taxi industry. Now we have our own app and our own technology and we will fight back and win. “

This campaign to raise funds and bring the Bronx’s 25 bodegas online is a test, Bello said, and an opportunity to see how the public reacts.

“If this is successful and progresses, we will get more funding from other sources,” he said. “It gives the public the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, do you like that idea, do you support the bodegas, do you think the city should keep the bodegas as, someone said, the fabric of the city of New York. “”


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