Do you know Honestbee? Are you also one of those who find it convenient to use this online grocery and food delivery application? It’s just heartbreaking to say that Honestbee Philippines are no longer in operation, and we are not sure when they’ll “bee” back soon.

On April 20, 2019, a message appeared on the Honestbee app and its website announcing that their services were unavailable. Honestbee is down, and at this point, it’s unclear when or if the service will resume.

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What is Honestbee?

Honestbee was a business that provided self-service grocery shopping. They also provided other services such as packaging and delivery, a concierge service, drop-offs from retail stores or cafes, and a courier service for online orders.

The company was founded in 2015 and works predominantly with supermarkets, retailers, and convenience stores to deliver goods to customers using its store pickers, delivery fleet, and mobile apps. In addition, the company utilizes robots for inventory management and other purposes in several of its warehouses. The company operates eight marketplaces in Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan. The Honestbee app can be downloaded easily from any of these various app stores at no cost and is available as an Android or IOS version.

The company profits by working with businesses. When a consumer uses the service, Honestbee takes a cut from all the transactions. If someone other than a consumer-like business makes an order through any of their partners, then the company charges fees, and that is how they make money on delivery services while also keeping their cut of consumer transactions separate.

Honestbee is based in Singapore and is Asia’s leading personal convenience application. It also serves in many different countries in Asia, including the Philippines. The application has become a great companion for your food deliveries, groceries, and parcels brought to your doorsteps. 

With its popularity and in-demand services, there will always be downfalls and challenges to face. The worst part is shutting down. 

Honestbee in the Philippines: What Happened?

Honestbee started its business in the Philippines by opening up to customers in 2017. Though the company started in Singapore in 2015, it became huge by opening in other countries in Asia. In 2018, the services are currently accessible throughout Cebu and many small grocery outlets and restaurants belonging to medium-sized local stores and businesses. The company also tapped Robinsons Supermarket.

Many Filipinos find Honestbee a reliable and convenient application for their needs. Because of their services being offered, it’s almost a one-stop app for almost everything, including groceries, shopping, food deliveries, parcels, and more. However, people started to have trouble logging in on their app, and the system became unavailable. 

Honestbee Philippines posted on their Facebook page with a caption: “Our systems are currently unavailable. We’ll be buzzing again soon.”

The temporary pause of Honestbee is unclear, and the company did not release any statements about why they paused their operations. The Honestbee Philippine’s Communications Director, Catherine Avelino, shared that their HeadQuarters are working to provide a more reliable and healthier business. 

Even Honestbee indeed looks successful and impressive, but behind the scenes, they are different. 

The Tea: Why Honestbee Philippines Stopped Their Operations?

Starting in April 2019, the company suffered from speculation that the company lacked operational funds and stopped its service in the Philippines.

Speculations, sources, and reports, either former or current employees of the Singapore-based startup, say that Honestbee has laid off several employees in its main branch and other branches. Though the company has not disclosed any official reason for the layoffs, it looks like these layoffs may have resulted from Honestbee’s unpaid debts to multiple suppliers. 

It even echoed one of the sources, saying that Honestbee’s Philippine office declared the suspension because it is waiting for further capital from their Singapore headquarters.

One recent source told a news outlet, TechCrunch, that Honestbee doesn’t have the funds in place to cover salaries at this time. The source, which is internal with Honestbee, has confirmed employees aren’t expected to receive their next checks on or before the usually scheduled payday date.

Tech In Asia reported that the reason behind this closure is that the company is temporarily out of cash while they’re awaiting new investment from their parent, based in Singapore. According to a source within Honestbee Philippines, the company’s general manager, Crystal Gonzalez, has already quit her job because it was clear to her that she could not help get it back on track and would rather relinquish any further ties instead of wasting more time.

It’s no secret that startups face many challenges, including running out of money – sometimes even before they get a chance to prove themselves. Late salary payments are always hard to swallow, especially when your livelihood depends on it!

Honestbee Today: Where is Honestbee?

Up until today, Honestbee in the Philippines hasn’t gone back to operation. Their offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan were suspended. At the same time, their operations in Indonesia ended in March 2019 and Hong Kong in May 2019. The company dissolved in 2020.

Delivery service startup Honestbee has laid off 80% of their team, or roughly 100 staff members. This comes in the wake of shutting down their supermarket, Habitat, after which they faced some rough winds as an emerging startup. Honestbee announced in February 2020 that it would temporarily close its grocery store amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak and a decline in walk-in customers. 

Crystal Gonzales, former general manager of Honestbee Philippines, developed her own “Honestbee” for the Philippines. After learning from her experience at Honestbee, she decided to start her delivery service for the Philippines. Pickaroo is customized for the Filipino audience and developed based on what she’s learned from working with other e-commerce platforms in the past. She has even managed to get some key people from Honestbee to join her team, like a few employees who come forward and offer to help lead specific company operations such as business development, categories, or expansion.

Personal Convenience App in the Philippines

Today, despite the shutting down of Honestbee, numerous delivery services, food deliveries, groceries, online shopping, and eCommerce stores have been popping up left and right. These online shopping and food delivery services became more hit, especially during the pandemic, since many Filipinos cannot risk going outside to shop and buy their stuff.

There are many online shopping and food sites today in the Philippines, such as FoodPanda, GrabFood, and some online e-commerce stores like Shopee and Lazada.

What do you think about the shutting down of Honestbee?

Let us know your thoughts.

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