Virtual Reality Storefronts For Indonesian Micro-Entrepreneurs

Thousands of women in Indonesia are running their own storefront without having to rent a real one in the street. The country’s biggest retailer Alfamart has teamed up with startup Slingshot MindStores to launch individual virtual reality shops based on Tupperware-inspired direct-selling models.

Storeowners, of whom 98% are women, can order products from an inventory list and invite people into their store — at least virtually. Equipped with just a tablet or smartphone, customers can browse through displays as if they were actually there. Most of the sales take place within the social circle of the seller — one of the reasons why this low-risk type of business is easy in empowering women in LEDC countries to generate income. More entrepreneurial-minded store owners can turn to social media for boosting their business.

As the nationwide shipping is handled by Alfamart, there is no need to handle any kind of logistics. The cash payment store owners receive is a 15% cut on profits and is said to vary between $900 and $1,200 per month. The so-called Mindstores eventually want to allow their store owners to sell their own products and crafts, thus potentially increasing the reach and impact of these virtual reality stores. While they are a great tool for entrepreneurial empowerment and a convenient shopping experience, it is interesting to see where this new business model will be headed — especially since Mindstores wants to also bring more well-established partners on board.