SOUTHEAST ASIAN e-commerce retailer Lazada is kicking off a series of sales until yearend with its 9.9 Big Discovery Sale today, Sept. 9, featuring “9 million deals, [some up to] 90% off” from local and international retailers alongside new app features such as bills payment and a pre-sale option for sale items.

“9.9 is an important sale event for us as it kicks off the region’s biggest e-commerce shopping season of the year ahead of 11.11 [on Nov. 11] and 12.12 [on Dec. 12]. It offers a great opportunity for sellers, brands, and consumers to try out new features and offerings in preparation for the upcoming mega sales, and that is why this 9.9 is all about discovery,” said Raymond Alimurung, Lazada Philippines CEO, in a statement.

One of the new features is the pre-sale option where users are allowed to see sale items ahead of the Sept. 9 sale, with the option to put a downpayment (“usually about 10% of the sale price,” according to Mr. Alimurung) and pay for the item on sale day.

This feature was created because Mr. Alimurung noted that “some items go so fast during the first few minutes of the sale” (the sale usually starts at midnight of the day itself) and this is to ensure customers get the product they want without having to race against each other.

“This new feature comes on the back of a successful pilot in Malaysia during Lazada’s Mid-Year Festival earlier this year. By placing a non-refundable deposit, shoppers can secure products at great discounts well ahead of sale day,” said the company statement.

Another new feature is the bills payment option where customers can pay their bills via the Lazada app. Among the bills which can be paid via the app are Meralco, Maynilad, Manila Water, Albay Power & Energy, Davao Light, VECO, Metropolitan Cebu Water, and Prime Water.

“This is what our customers asked of us,” Mr. Alimurung explained.

Lazada is also introducing new collection points that allow shoppers to go and pick-up their items at their preferred time by clicking pickup instead of delivery when checking out their items. Several collection points are located in Metro Manila at select SM Mall and GrowSari branches.

In previous sales, Lazada toyed with the idea of selling big-ticket items on the app, including downpayment for houses and cars. This time, the site is offering helicopter rides in partnership with Ascent. The helicopter tours will offer Metro Manila or Tagaytay tours from P7,992 for a 15 minute Metro Manila tour for one person to P87,992 for a Taal Volcano tour for five people.

Beyond helicopter tours, Mr. Alimurung noted that Lazada will soon be offering other digital products and online vouchers for everything from dog-walking to salon appointments.

“Basically everything where one can use coupons or vouchers,” he said as they are currently developing a feature that will generate individual coupon codes for merchants in-app so partner merchants won’t need to invest in their own coupon generators. — ZBC