Two young entrepreneurs from the Siy Cha Group that grew its business out of Sultan Kudarat province are launching a Filipino-owned, technology-driven last-mile delivery service that aims to take advantage of the exponential growth of electronic commerce despite the quarantine restrictions imposed by authorities to contain the pandemic.
“We saw the need and opportunity to innovate and help provide for fellow Filipinos who serve as our main inspiration. We wanted to provide them with a reliable and efficient delivery partner. Thus, Amigo was born,” says Matthew Siy Cha, co-founder and president of Amigo, an on-demand delivery platform that connects customers and businesses to partner riders through a seamless and convenient application and ready-ride service.
“The name Amigo is actually a Visayan term for friend. Our family’s origin is actually from Davao,” says Matthew, who worked in the family’s motorcycle retail and finance businesses before establishing Amigo.
“Our on-demand delivery platform aims to be that friend—someone that customers and businesses can depend on to fulfill all their logistics needs safely, on time, and at a very reasonable price. Similarly, [it is] someone whom riders can depend on for fair income, fair benefits and be part of an environment where they actually enjoy what they are doing and know that we always have their back,” says Matthew who graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Systems and a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering with Business.
Matthew says in a virtual briefing that Amigo aims to take advantage of the booming delivery market in the Philippines, which is seen to expand to P36.6 billion by 2024 and the P10.4-billion projected revenues in food deliveries by end-2021.
Initially, the Amigo service offers deliveries of up to 20 kilograms by motorcycle riders in Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite, but Matthew says the plan is to expand the fleet to include cars and trucks and deploy them in more cities around the country.
Matthew confirms that the Siy Cha Group provided business tips on how to launch the business. “For us, we are very lucky to have them as advisers and consultants on how we can actually make our processes a lot more efficient. So aside from the logistics business, we also have motorcycle retail that can actually help us provide more benefits for our riders in terms of motorcycle loaning, servicing and repair,” he says.
Kimberly Rose Siy, a co-founder managing director of Amigo, agrees, saying “we are lucky to have the support of the Siy Cha Group of Companies and their well-experienced management team, who have been in the motorcycle retail business for more than 30 years now.
“Leveraging on our industry expertise, we saw launching Amigo as a way to serve our fellow Filipinos and create a lasting positive impact on society by introducing a reliable delivery service for consumers, riders, and merchants,” says Kimberly, who graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Economics. She is also the chief operating officer of SPICA Distribution, the Philippines’ leading producer of household private labels, and got her experience in the e-commerce space with DealGrocer.
The Siy Cha Group is a conglomerate that started as an agricultural trading company in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat before diversifying into different businesses. Its subsidiaries include Sultan Kudarat Milling & Trading Inc., Siy Cha Hardware Corp., Millenium Distribution Systems Inc., Central Universal Corp., Gentrade International Philippines Inc., Metrocycle World Corp., Transcycle, Powercycle, and Unistar Credit and Finance Corp.
Matthew says they conceived the business model of Amigo as early as December 2019 through Project Move Inc., the company behind Amigo. “We spent the early half of 2020 to conduct survey and market research, so we can fully understand what the potential users and partner riders actually require from an on-demand service. Together with experts, we then continued developing, testing, and refining our service to ensure that our processes are not only legal but also effective and highly scalable,” he says.
He says they are set to formally launch the service in February this year despite the global pandemic because “the pandemic actually motivated us to fast track all planning, development and now our launch”.
“We saw a significant change in Filipino culture, the boom in online shopping, a much higher demand for parcel delivery, and increased trust in online payments,” he says.
Matthew says they are hoping that the launch of Amigo will help create more job opportunities for Filipinos during this challenging period.
“Together with this unfortunate [health crisis] was the increase in the unemployment rate, reduction in employee salaries and benefits, and reduced opportunities in the job market. This is where Amigo really wants to be an ‘amigo’,” he says.
“Ultimately, as a fully Filipino owned on-demand service platform, we want to create a lasting positive impact on society by creating new opportunities for Filipinos to thrive. At the heart of Amigo’s operations is our aim to move the parcel logistics landscape to greater heights through technology, data-driven processes and of course empathetic solutions,” he says.
Amigo is inviting more rider partners to join the service. Matthew says he is hopeful about the potential of the service as the last-mile delivery market in the Philippines is projected to be around P36.6 billion by 2024.
“We have a lot of riders who have shown interest, and we haven’t fully launched yet, so that’s a really good sign for us. Ultimately, our goal is to be able to keep our promise. When a customer requests for a booking, the customer is matched with a rider as soon as possible,” he says.
Kimberly says Amigo makes customer convenience a top priority, from a booking process that takes as little steps as possible to flexible booking times and an option for both cash and cashless transactions, where customers can opt for COD, credit/debit card, and PayMaya transactions.
She says Amigo has real-time tracking of riders and a security code feature to ensure packages arrive at the right locations and to the right people. The Amigo Chat provides customers real-time communication with riders or a customer support agent, where they can send their location or images all within the Amigo app.
Amigo merchants share the same services as customers. Amigo takes it further by providing them with special promos and pricing, weekly analytics reports, and a dedicated account manager who will facilitate and cater to their needs.
Kimberly says to take care of riders, Amigo makes sure that they always feel empowered. This starts with the Amigo Wallet feature, where they receive their earnings in real-time after every delivery. With the integration of PayMaya, they can conveniently do online top-ups and withdrawal of cash easily, straight from their Amigo Wallet.
Riders also have direct access to AmiGoals, which is Amigo’s incentive programs and leaderboards to help them gain extra earnings, stay competitive, and always motivated.
Customers may either book now or have a scheduled delivery. They also have the option to pay a priority fee if no rider is accepting their booking and provide both feedback and tips for their riders. Amigo lets customers have up to 20 drop-off locations for one booking alone.
Kimberly says Amigo’s platform ensures customers’ information and personal details are kept safely and cannot be accessed by riders upon completion of a delivery. A number masking feature, which hides contact numbers from app users, will also be made available in the coming months.
She says Amigo offers advanced analytics to help riders improve their personal delivery business. Amigo also has a route optimization feature and can cater to multiple drop-offs to ensure that merchants get the most out of each booking.
Amigo has policies and protocols in place for every challenge that merchants may encounter such as rider cancellations and damages to their package. Merchants also have package insurance with clear and easy-to-understand guidelines on different situations that they may encounter.
Matthew says Amigo aims to provide good service to customers, merchants, and riders. “As Amigo, we will do our part by ensuring that the parcels of our customers are delivered on time and in one piece. For merchants, we understand that we have a duty and as a homegrown business to promote and enrich our goal by making them more accessible. As fellow Filipinos, we understand the difficulty that riders are going through, and we would like to extend a hand to help them with their ventures,” he says.
“Amigo was inspired by the hard work that countless Filipinos put in every day, and it was established so that we can do our part and extend a helping hand to all of our stakeholders. Amigo is more than just a business for us—we want it to be a reliable partner who goes the extra mile for Filipinos,” says Matthew.
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