MerryMart Consumer Corp. is set to launch a string of “invisible” branches in collaboration with Foodpanda Philippines, pioneering the “dark grocery” concept in the Philippines.

What does this mean? It’s going to be the country’s first 15-minute grocery delivery service available to online buyers. “This concept is a real game-changer in the online grocery space,” says MerryMart chair Edgar Sia II. 

According to Sia, the “dark grocery” stores will be situated in hidden locations and will be used exclusively for online delivery. This will complement the expansion of the newbie grocery operator’s (the wholly-owned subsidiary MerryMart Grocery Centers Inc. was only listed last year) branches that will cater to delivery and walk-in customers.

Since these select sites are established for the sole purpose of delivery, there’s no need to pay much attention to the design interiors. This makes “dark groceries” more cost-effective than marked stores. It can even be turned into a full-fledged establishment depending on the demand.

Makati City and Manila will be the first ones to see these “dark groceries” in operation this October. MerryMart currently has 11 branches and is aiming to cap the year off with 25 locations.