HOME IMPROVEMENT and construction supplies retailer Wilcon Depot, Inc. is planning to venture into e-commerce, alongside plans to open more stores outside of Metro Manila.

Wilcon Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Rosemarie Bosch-Ong said the company is taking an “omni-channel” approach to give customers the freedom to “shop at the comfort of wherever they are”.

“We’re getting into that (e-commerce), we’re just preparing the ground (work)… It’s like working 24/7, you have to have a dedicated inventory system. We’re all over the Philippines now and we want to make sure that we give the same level of service that we give to those who visit the stores,” she told reporters during the company’s 40th anniversary launch at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila Hotel, Wednesday.

As part of its omni-channel retailing strategy, Ms. Bosch-Ong said Wilcon is also looking into how customers can make purchases using their smartphones.

Aside from adding home appliances to the company’s inventory, Ms. Bosch-Ong said Wilcon is also increasing the role of technology when it comes to sales such as setting up a design hub where customers can execute any design they have in mind.

“In the crossroad of being digital and physical, if you can observe all the stores, we have sales experts holding tablets […] so they can show you different design variations apart from what you can see in the floor so you can choose designs, you can choose modules through the tablets,” she said.

Aside from e-commerce, Wilcon is on track to roll out new stores in Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija, Silang in Cavite, Iloilo City, Tacloban City and Zamboanga City. Construction of the branch in Tacloban began last June, while work on the Zamboanga branch started in July.

“We’re very much concentrated in Luzon, where the main market is but we’re looking at the emerging markets in major cities in Visayas and Mindanao,” Wilcon President and Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Y. Belo-Cincochan said.

“If you notice that most of our stores are in Metro Manila. We are planning to move towards were the growth is and the economy is moving towards outside Metro Manila so we can spread Wilcon to more homes all over the Philippines.”

Ms. Belo-Cincochan said the company’s goal is to increase the number of stores from 39 currently to 65 by 2021.

Wilcon opened another branch in Cagayan de Oro last August.

Ms. Bosch-Ong said building a store will cost “more or less P150 million,” excluding the equipment inside the building which will amount to P30 million and the store inventory.

For the first half of 2017, Wilcon Depot’s profit surged 162% to P762.67 million from P290.79 million during the same period a year ago. Revenues more than doubled to P8.47 billion during the six-month period.

Shares in Wilcon Depot added 8 centavos to close at P8.95 apiece on Wednesday. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato