E-COMMERCE solutions provider Anchanto is planning to expand its customer base in the Philippines this year as quarantine measures limit brick-and-mortar retail.

“If I was targeting (business) to explode in 2021, I would say it would be at least 50% more growth,” Anchanto Chief Operating Officer Abhimanyu Kashikar said, referring to both customers and revenue.

The Singapore-based company currently works with more than 400 small and medium-sized enterprises and 35 big firms in the Philippines.

“I think Philippines is a very important market, and it is growing fast. I think from the customers’ point-of-view, we have specific segments we want to focus on. Of course, all those who are looking to transition into e-commerce… that eventually will definitely help us to get the revenue as well,” Mr. Kashikar said in a virtual interview.

The retail sector suffered as mall foot traffic fell during the stricter lockdown and amid health anxiety among consumers last year. Metro Manila and nearby regions are again in an extended strict lockdown until April 11.

“Businesses were not able to sell. And some of the businesses who were earlier focusing on retail and less on e-commerce, they have started now realizing that e-commerce can help them still sell even if their shops are shut,” Mr. Kashikar said.

Anchanto’s sales activities in the Philippines slowed down in the first quarter last year as the strict lockdown was introduced in March, he said, spurring the company to adjust to engaging with potential customers virtually for a second quarter recovery.

The company is also looking to grow its Philippine team this year after deferring expansion activities originally set for 2020.

“We had growth plans in 2020, which we didn’t execute because of the pandemic. Where we are planning to grow is not only in the NCR (National Capital Region), but we also want to expand into other cities. The growth that will come in is some hiring that we have within NCR and also in the other cities,” Mr. Kashikar said.

“Earlier it was very easy to travel to Cebu. You can take a one day or two day trip and you can meet four customers. But today it is very difficult, so definitely we need local teams set up there who can basically fast-pace the execution.” — Jenina P. Ibañez