Tag Archives: technology

Easy Grocery: Here’s what happened when I let someone else do the grocery shopping for me

Like most people my age, I am terribly busy – with work and with life responsibilities. I dream of attaining work-life balance, a goal which remains as a work in progress for me.

But I am taking steps: I have applied all my existing bills to automatic debit on my bank account, including payments for the house and my two insurance premiums; and are now finding ways to optimize my post-paid usage to the point I can also predict my monthly use. In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with taking the easy option — especially when your hands are always full.

But what about other chores, like feeding the cats, cleaning the house and buying the groceries? These are tasks that looked mundane but can actually eat up a lot of your time. Take buying groceries, for example — while I consider browsing through shelves as a form of therapy, it’s the Manila traffic and the maddening crowd during weekends that usually gets to me.

That’s why I immediately said yes when I was invited to try out a new revolutionary start-up app called Easy Grocery:

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The premise behind Easy Grocery is simple: the EasyGrocery app allows you to have  someone do the grocery shopping for you. The goodies will be delivered to your home (at a time of your choosing and convenience), and paid through either through credit card, debit card or cash on delivery. It’s that simple.

While there are other grocery shopping app out there, the difference with EasyGrocery is that you will be in contact with their “runner” the whole time. The goodies you will pay for will be according to your liking — and there will be no errant or missing goodies in your shopping bag upon delivery.

 

Eugene Leoncio, president and developer of Easy Grocery explained that the concept of Easy Grocery is heavily based on the Filipino trait of “pakisuyo” where you will ask someone to do a light chore for you. Easy Grocery employs runners and motorcycled-delivery drivers who will scour groceries for your needs and deftly deliver your items within a 60-minute guaranteed time. As the app is currently in its infancy, it is currently available for Makati and BGC addresses (with access to groceries located in these areas).

 

So how’s my Easy Grocery shopping you ask? 

My Easy Grocery shopping experience started when I downloaded their app (available in iOS and Android). The opening screen will ask you the input your location (Makati for me), which will then show the grocery stores available for your specific location. In my case, I chose Rustan’s Glorietta 4 (where I actually do my groceries IRL).

From there, you will see the items available for the particular store, classified according to their SKUs – like Babies, Canned Goods, Dairies/Frozen Food, etc.

The photo below shows the summary of the things I ordered, including the order number which was the numbers at the top-center of the screen, and the status and price of the items and the total amount of my groceries:

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The diapers and milk is for my niece, Penny while the rest is for our weekly food stash.

As a shopper, you will be able to see if your items are In Process, In Basket, For Pick-up or In-Transit. In process means that the runner is still looking for your items, in basket means they already found the item and are now in your grocery cart; while For Pick-up means that the items have been bagged and paid for and now are waiting for the delivery guy or rider to arrive. Finally, in transit means the grocery items are now on their way to your specified delivery address.

For cases where your specified item is out of stock, Easy Grocery’s runner will call you or message you (similar to Grab or Uber) to let you know, and will give you options for a replacement.

As soon as the items are marked “In Transit,” you can track the rider and see if he is already near your location:

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Because the app is still new — it can’t be helped that there are still areas for improvement. In my case, the app still showed “In Process” on top, but the status of my groceries are already “In Transit.” For cases like these, the rider will contact you and make sure you are informed on the status of your groceries. Similar to ride-sharing apps, you can give stars to the riders to rate their performance.

Here’s how the Easy Grocery rider looks like:

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The rider is outfitted with the Easy Grocery shirt and carries a huge (and heavy) customized bag which is heavily padded to protect your grocery items.

The bags are also insulated to protect frozen foods, and as you can see, there are divisions inside to make sure that all items will fit nicely and snugly. The rider will then arrange your items, double check content and then place them to the Easy Grocery bag ecobag before handing them over to you.

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For all that convenience, Easy Grocery only charges PHP100 for the “runner” and PHP100 for the “rider;” a total of PHP200, which is small change really compared to the hassle of getting a cab or a Grab/Uber, falling in line, getting hungry and eating out (another expense on top of your grocery budget) and most especially, finding the time out of your busy schedule. The PHP200 fee will be included in your total bill, so there are no surprises or hidden charges at all.

 

So, what’s the verdict? 

I like Easy Grocery for the convenience it affords people. Imagine if you just need to buy cat food or kitty litter, or just missing a few ingredients for your dinner party. Instead of taking precious time away from you, you can easily have these items bought for you just by using Easy Grocery.

The app’s commitment to customer service and delivering a good experience for its user is also commendable. I love how its runners and riders can communicate with the shopper, thus lessening the ease of not having control to the shopping experience.

BUT, of course — it still has areas for improvement:

  • Increase reach to other localities and more groceries – more areas and shops covered, which will bring the experience to other people living outside the pilot areas of Makati and BGC
  • More items on the shelves please! I was looking forward to buying rice, coffee, sugar, fruit juice, cat food and kitty litter. These six actually constitute my life’s basic necessities.
  • Fix bugs on the system to ensure customer convenience and peace of mind

The developers has assured us that they are now working double time to address these concerns. To their credit, I saw how they were  personally handling queries from us who were encountering problems during the ordering process.

During our conversation, Leoncio also expressed his hopes to expand the app’s capability and graciously listened and welcomed suggestions from our end. After all, Easy Grocery is a labor of love by Leoncio, who first thought of the app for his wife who was also busy juggling work and household chores.

 

Will I try it again?

Definitely, and in a heartbeat! I am looking forward to using Easy Grocery as soon as the busy Christmas season rears its ugly head. I look forward to enjoying preparing our Christmas and New Year dinner without having to go through a harrowing experience at the grocers, where everyone seemed out for blood just to have the last piece of queso de bola and jamon serrano.

I love how, in spite being heavily-centric on technology, the app still takes great care to please and communicate with its customers.

I think Easy Grocery is on the right track, and given the right push and improvements, it’s set to revolutionize our grocery shopping experience.

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GrabTaxi and Lazada – Making Life Easy

I am not exactly the techie type and I easily, easily get rattled when my Smartphone acts up and I have no idea why. My work demands that I immerse myself in social media while my foray in blogging has kept me sane — however, deep in my heart, I am still an old-fashioned girl who loves writing letters instead of email, reading actual books than Kindle and writing on my journal (been journaling since I was 14!)

But I do know when to appreciate technology — mostly because of the convenience it has brought us. Right now, there are two service companies whom I have recently discovered and have thoroughly enjoyed using.

GrabTaxi

I love my city — but let’s face it. Hailing a taxi in Manila, in the middle of rush hour and in the pouring rain, is like being subjected to eternal damnation in hell. Cabies sprout horns and tails turning into devils behind the wheels. They will negotiate with you, tsk-tsk-tsking madly either because you are going too far or too near or too crowded and it’s traffic. They will attempt to haggle a price they find appealing never mind if it’s worth your kidney and spleen. In the rare chance that you do get a ride and your driver happens to be a minion of Lucifer Morningstar, you will go to places you’ve never been as he tries to drive you around the Metro. This blog post won’t even discuss perpetuated by so-called “evil cab drivers.”

And then comes GrabTaxi.

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GrabTaxi, available for FREE download on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry platforms, is the first and largest taxi app in Philippines and South East Asia that enables passengers to book taxis in just a few taps of their smartphones. It is also available in Malaysia, Singapore, and Bangkok. GrabTaxi aims to revamp the local taxi industry by introducing simple, cost effective mobile-based technology to both the supply (drivers and demand (passenger) sides of the distribution chain. With this technology, GrabTaxi hopes to optimize the matching process between drivers and passengers. (from the GrabTaxi website)

Bottomline: it allows you to have instant access to taxi using your mobile device without having to be subjected to the torture of hailing a cab in the middle of the city streets. I downloaded GrabTaxi before and its competitor and used them both for hailing cabs.

When I first used it in early 2014, I was more partial to the other taxi app because it was faster and drivers from GrabTaxi had a habit of canceling my ride at the last minute. But by the time Christmas season of 2014 rolled in, the other taxi app has become annoying — drivers won’t bid on my ride unless I add a tip or there are fewer confirmed cabs in your area when compared to Grab. GrabTaxi, meanwhile, seemed to have cleaned house. Gone are the rude cab drivers and those who had a habit of cancelling rides at the last minute. A conversation with a GrabTaxi driver while in the middle of traffic confirmed this. According to manong,the company has become more stringent in affiliating drivers, especially those who received complaints. The driver also seemed very happy being affiliated with GrabTaxi — they talked about winning cameras or bringing in extra earnings to their happy wife. This year, I decided to save space on my phone and deleted the other app. I am okay with just having GrabTaxi on my phone.

How to use

cred
it to source
credit to source

Since I don’t have a car and my job needs me to do ocular inspections for branding of branches, media visits or interviews, I have become really dependent of GrabTaxi. It gives me the convenience of having a cab wait for me as I exit the office (especially nowadays when the heat is too much), gives me peace of mind that I don’t have a psycho for a driver (Driver profile appears as part of your app), you can have your ride receipts sent via email for easy filing of reimbursement for Transpo Allowances.

Convenient shopping with Lazada

As a woman, I should love shopping. But…when it involves long lines, swollen feet from all the walking, frazzled salesladies, crowds that rival the next 1D concert and grumpy customer service agents — then I tend to tap into my (non-exitent) male gene and skip the mall altogether. I love quick visits to the mall when really needed. For instances such as these, I tend to drop by, choose what I want, bring it to the cashier and get the hell out of the store as fast as possible. I don’t like haggling or jumping from one store to another to compare prices or being followed by a salesperson while I inspect the goodies.

Then, I discovered Lazada.

credit goes to owner
credit goes to owner

Lazada positions itself as the Philippines’ hassle-free online mall, where consumers can choose the product they need in the convenience and safety of their own home.

According to the Lazada website:
“Lazada is offering to every shopper in the country—an internet shopping mall that will make your every online purchase effortless and risk free. Seek, find, shop, and enjoy your items right at the comfort of your home. Gone are the days of hearing the never ending tunes of malls, the crowded department stores, and enduring grueling traffic; Lazada is here to keep everything you need within your reach.”

The Lazada Homepage where the list of products are arranged based on their brands
The Lazada Homepage where the list of products are arranged based on their brands

I am not a frequent or avid online shopper, but I like browsing online shopping sites like Amazon, Rakuten (for my Japan goodies) and Lazada to see if there are tempting deals that are just too good to pass up. What’s good about Lazada is that all the products are listed according to brands so you’ll have the option of choosing the one the best fit your budget. There also deals that are too good to be true. My sister and I purchased our favorite perfume, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea when, during net browsing, we chanced upon one of their advertisements announcing up to almost 70% price drop on selected perfumes. In fact, we only paid PHP999 each for a 3.2 oz bottle that sells for more than PHP3,000 at the mall. Lazada gives you the option of paying on delivery or paying online, depending on your preference.

How to purchase
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Recently, I am considering of buying a water dispenser for more parents but had no time to shop and look around the many appliance centers near my office. First, because I was just too busy in the office and too tired to even consider going to the mall. I also have no compulsion to go from one place to another to check and compare products so I decided to visit Lazada and see if there are water dispensers on sale. I saw three brands, and was planning to buy one already — until mom came home the next day lugging a huge box with a water dispenser inside.

For a busy person like me, the presence of services like GrabTaxi and Lazada provides a bit of relief in an otherwise already chaotic schedule. While I am still waiting for the time when we can already order groceries online and have it delivered to our homes like in South Korea, these new services are already a big step towards the development of more and more apps or websites that makes life a little bit easier.

Disclaimer:
This is not a sponsored post, nor a paid advert. This material was written with my own biases and opinion.

Sky Broadband disappoints

The reason for the lack of activity to this blog, is not because I am slowly being swallowed alive by my 8 to 5.

It’s because of the inefficiency of service of this one:

We started with high hopes with Sky Broadband–after all, we came from the horrors of having Globe Broadband as our internet provider. (This is another story altogether and which required us to plug, unplug, turn off and turn on the router) So, when the Queen availed Sky’s services for Broadband to complement our cable connection, we are quite hopeful that we don’t have to deal with crappy service.

In the beginning, the service was great: clear and reliable internet connection at all hours. But four or five months into the service, it started getting really disappointing. We have no internet service from morning until night, appearing only maybe at 2AM or 3AM (if you’re lucky) — but who the hell (who has an 8 to 5 job) surfs at the ungodly hour of 3AM? Maybe except my hubby who works in the customer service industry, but us?!? Imagine not being able to work or even update your blog or surf at leisure just because there’s no internet connection. We tried all tricks available in the book: turn off, turn on the laptop and the router, fix the network setting on our respective lappies, and when all things seemed for naught, called the customer service who gave us no explanation or whatsoever why we have the SUCKIEST internet connection in the land! The first time I called–around 1130PM, I think (they have 24 hours customer care, in fairness), the agent gave me all this techie BS which I failed to understand and had to beg to him to explain to me in layman’s terms. The agent, whose tone sounded smug and bored, gave me some round-about on “switching off the router, then switch on again” which didn’t work, obviously.

So, the Queen called again last night–after she was unable to send a very important report to her boss–but again no noteworthy action taken. So all hell broke lose and the Queen threatened to have the service cut, if no one will come to the house and fix the goddamn thing today.

I won’t even begin on Sky Cable’s boring and uninspired programming (now that they started charging moolah for extra channels like NHK, Arirang, etc), but I fear–Sky is no longer as good as it used to be.

Maybe time to look for a new net and cable provider? Who do you recommend?

Make Facebook moron-free!!!

There are amazing things in this world that one shouldn’t take advantage of, like wealth, the law and even money. One of them is Facebook. Like any other thing of beauty, Facebook–when in the hands of a very stupid and moronic person–becomes cheap, uncouth and at times, even annoying.

I decided to unfriend one of my college friends in Facebook after she has sent me a stupid chain letter (sent via Instant Messaging) urging me to “pass it on or else, your mom will die” First and foremost, I know it’s just a message and is not meant to be taken seriously but the fact that it has even mentioned my mom in bad faith did not sit too well with me. I mean, WHO THE F@CK DOES STUNTS SUCH AS THESE? Mostly just kids and oh, the morons that were too busy simply by existing. I would like to know the genius that made this chain letter so that I could stuff his laptop up his ass, and yes — I would like to see this girl from college, who I barely talked to (in person and online) and when she decided to talk to me (for once), she managed to ruin my day by sending me a stupid chain letter online.

The funny thing is, when she sent me the letter (via Facebook chat) she explained that she said, “I am sorry I am doing this cos I love my mom” I immediately replied, “fuck off. this is not funny. If you love ur mom you would stop doing stupid things online” (Yes, I really told her this…including the fuck off part). She immediately went offline.

This annoying little incident made me think that when Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook (incidentally, I think I am one of the ten people who haven’t seen The Social Network yet), I don’t think that he has any idea on how big this thing will be, or that somewhere across the planet in a country called the Philippines, a moron would use his invention to send stupid stuff to people. Come to think of it, Facebook has become a haven of both GOOD and STUPID stunts.

Here are some of the really annoying, bizarre and even stuff I’ve seen posted on my Wall:

1. It has become a marketplace where people sell a lot of stuff where they tag you even if your face or your likeness isn’t anywhere near a picture of yapping puppies or dresses from Korea. For my FB friends, for the love of God — please do not tag me if the picture does not include my VERY PRESENTABLE and WELL-MADE UP face, or if the picture does not concern my interests (I.E> my MatsuJun, Korean boytoys, Japanese idols, boybands, etc). If you are really my friend, you know WHEN to tag me.

2. It became an exhibition wall for the bizarre. Have you seen the video of the guy whose body was cut in two but was still moving? Or the video where 20+ giant worms where extracted from the stomach of a patient, obviously in a hospital somewhere in the Philippines cos you can hear the nurses screaming (in a very annoying and maarte way) “eeeuwwww…” each time a worm was pulled (threats of medical malpractice people!) or the video claiming me to be the body of the half serpent/ half human monster living in the basement of a Manila mall? Yes, the wall of Filipino Facebook users have become a display wall of just how charmingly weird my countrymen are.

3. Two people fighting, nuking it out with messages exchanged. On the Facebook Wall. Live. Bringing into the whole world’s attention just how effed up their lives were.

4. Have someone asked you for money on FB? (In tagalog: nautangan ka na ba sa Facebook?) don’t you find it weird? I do. It’s like, dude…we haven’t seen each other for eons and you are messaging me just to borrow money. Oh….kaaaay.

Writing this piece has made me realize that I have been “friends” with a lot of weird people in FB. Does that mean I am weird too… (heh–you don’t have to answer that). Hmmmn, must clean up my friends list then.

You know sometimes I think Mark Z. and his crew should devise a test if someone can join Facebook or not. This will limit the number of stupid things present in cyberspace. A moron-free Facebook, wouldn’t you want that?