From its beginnings as a social networking site, Multiply.com has evolved to become one of the country’s leading “˜social shopping’ destinations and has recently unveiled a new set of e-commerce tools for independent merchants.
“œDue to the contribution of the Philippines in the company’s global business and the sheer size of our merchant community, Multiply launched a Philippine office in 2011. We observed a gradual shift in the Filipinos’ usage of the site, which went beyond connecting to friends and family members. Over time and due to its heavily customizable features, Multiply.com was used more as a place for budding entrepreneurs to sell their products,” says Stefan Magdalinski, CEO of Multiply Global.
The new platform will give entrepreneurs solutions such as a detailed product listing, inventory management, and order tracking, so the system could “˜do the dirty work,’ and reduce the sellers’ manpower and overhead costs.
Through a Merchant Dashboard, sellers can easily view traffic trends and get a view of the most visited product listings, get an easy to digest sales report with status on all orders, and run even promos on their Multiply shops with a discount code creator.
Multiply has also placed a “˜shopping cart’ feature and added several payment gateways, so that it can accept payment in behalf of the merchants through credit card, Paypal, GCash, and over-the-counter payments at BDO, and BPI. The payment would then be disbursed to the merchants’ appointed bank account.
“œThere seems to be a reluctance on trade through the Internet due to a lack of accreditation and guarantees. Filipinos rely much on the interpersonal relationships, and therefore tend to feel more comfortable buying from known vendors. We wanted to retain the shopper-seller interaction while providing a simple and secure way to pay online,” says Jack Madrid, Multiply Philippines Country Manager.
He adds, “But it is good to note that banking and IT platforms are evolving, and we are making more options available to online buyers in the future.” In a bid to strengthen the confidence of buyer towards Multiply as a shopping platform, a Buyer Protection Program has been installed to guarantee purchases from merchants with a Trusted Badge.
To date, Multiply has approximately 5.5 million users in the Philippines, 130,000 of which are online store fronts, carrying items from 16 product categories. Upon launch in May, given the trust and comfort levels with e-payment in general, majority of shoppers still settle via cash (face to face). However, since the launch of the credit cards system November of last year, online payments via credit cards have significantly grown to represent approximately three fourths of Multiply’s gross merchandise value. There is also an astoundingly high rate of repeat purchases for Multiply in the Philippines ““ a clear indication that the Philippine market is a fast adapter of e-Commerce.
Some of the most transacted items online include gadgets and electronics, fashion apparel and accessories, shoes, cosmetics, digital cameras, mobile phones and accessories and even discount vouchers and tour packages, to name a few.
Online shopping in the country is still in its infancy stage but there are strong growth trends in Internet usage among upscale under 30s, especially in key cities like Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao. The highest activity still happens in social networking sites, followed by usage of various business tools such as search, e-mail, and instant messaging.
According to DCOM (Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines), Global e-commerce revenues amount to $963 billion, with the US taking the biggest share of the total retail sales at 9%, United Kingdom at 10%, Asia Pacific at 3%, and Latin America at 2%. In less than a decade, Asia is projected to eat a greater portion of retail sales at 15-20%.
“œThere are several e-commerce trends and opportunities that Filipinos need to bank on. In the future, we will see a more liberalized retail market that is borderless and certainly bigger; it will give rise to more enterprising individuals who will need less financial capital for start up,” concludes Magdalinski.