Lazada bullish on growth of PHL market

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By Zsarlene B. Chua, Reporter

LAZADA Philippines is confident of sustaining growth in the country, which has been aided in part by the declining cost of internet access and mobile devices.

“All of Southeast Asia is growing very, very fast but I think in the Philippines we have certain advantages because we are a pretty dominant [player] in the Philippines. There are not many players and so I think there’s a big opportunity,” Lazada Philippines CEO Raymond Alimurung told BusinessWorld during the company’s 7th anniversary celebration launch on March 19 in White Space, Makati City.

Mr. Alimurung noted the Philippine market grew faster than expected in the last seven years, but there’s still a long way to go.

“I think the market is maturing in the right direction. It’s not completely mature…because there are still tens of millions of Filipinos still not shopping online,” he said.

Data from statistics portal Statista showed the number of Filipino internet users is expected to reach 75% of the population this year from the 69.6% recorded in 2018.

This year, Lazada is focusing on improving its electronic payments channels, especially its own Lazada e-wallet.

“The wallet has grown eight times since it started in terms of percent of transactions paid using the wallet, but from a small base,” Mr. Alimurung said.

Lazada e-wallet may have grown tremendously since its launch in April 2018 but Mr. Alimurung admitted that the lack of cash-in options made the growth slower than expected.

Currently, the Lazada e-wallet can be loaded over-the-counter in 7-Eleven stores, SM Bills Payment centers among others; or through online banking for Bank of the Philippine Islands and Union Bank customers, bank transfers for BDO, or through debit cards.

Mr. Alimurung said they are working to increase number of banks for the online banking options, bank transfers and wallet-to-wallet cash-ins from other e-wallets like GCash and Paymaya. Lazada Philippines is also talking with companies with rewards programs to include Lazada e-wallet.

Lazada is holding its 7th anniversary sale on March 27, which will include “80 million items, up to 90% discounts and 70 million vouchers,” according to a company statement.

Mr. Alimurung said Robinsons Land, Inc., will be selling condo units and town homes during the anniversary sale.

“We want to show the market that e-commerce is here to stay…that really, you can buy and sell anything on the site. I hold no illusions that people will start buying homes on the site by April, because really this is to show the [scope of the platform],” he said.

Going beyond e-commerce, Lazada will also livestream its anniversary party in Jakarta headlined by British singer Dua Lipa on its app on March 26, 8 p.m.

“The idea of us seeing the opportunity is not new, this is how e-commerce in China is — it’s very social. People initially went to e-commerce to save time but what the Alibaba Group found out is people go on e-commerce sites to kill time,” Mr. Alimurung said, noting that other Alibaba sites like Taobao and T-Mall are visited “up to seven times a day.”

He noted that the concept of “e-commerce” has shifted into “social commerce” with users treating the platform also as social media.

The introduction of a livestream option and an in-app game center (to be launched within the first half of the year) is to create “more engaged customers.”

Late last year, Lazada and Shopee introduced live quizzes and other games in the app with app credits as rewards.

“The challenge is this is so new…[so] we’re showing them (brands and sellers on Lazada) and guiding them so they’ll know how to do it,” Mr. Alimurung said.