Are you looking for a gift for that special someone?
Booking a weekend getaway to Boracay? Or buying that fantastic wardrobe you have wanted all year long? Of course, it’s easy to rush to the nearest mall to shop, or visit or call your travel agent to book the best package available for a trip. But more and more Filipinos nowadays are choosing the most convenient, most affordable and the safest way possible to purchase products and services—ONLINE!
Online retail has experienced steady growth in the country, boosted by the flurry of steep markdowns such as discounts of up to 70 percent. Sites like Lazada, CashCashPinoy, Zalora, Groupon, and LivingSocial have brought excitement to ecommerce and have helped to build a growing market of online buyers.
The Philippines still has the lowest online retail reach in the Asia-Pacific region at 53 percent, compared to the leader Vietnam at 76.7 percent, according to comScore’s Southeast Asia Digital Future in Focus 2013 study. Yet, interest in online shopping is on the rise, promising bright prospects for the sector. Specifically, local visitors to Lazada swelled dramatically, up 46 percent in 2013 due to an expansive portfolio of bargains for even the traditionally priciest items.
This trend led to more online retail sites opening shop in the Philippines to tap local and global markets. One case in point is Island Rose, considered the largest flower retailer and wholesaler in the Philippines, which opened an ecommerce site in 2000 (www.islandrose.net). This online retail shop lets consumers from all over the world purchase gifts, from fresh-cut flowers to mouth-watering confectioneries, and have them delivered to their loved ones anywhere in the Philippines. As its name implies, flowers are the company’s main product, having been a leading supplier to wedding coordinators, florists, hotels and restaurants since its establishment in 1983. It has since expanded its product line to stuffed toys, jewelry and other accessories.
The challenge of maintaining online retail operations can be daunting for start-ups and even seasoned retailers, especially in building and maintaining the solid yet costly infrastructure to support it. Island Rose overcame this challenge by bringing key online retail business applications to the cloud through software-as-a-service solutions from San Mateo, California-based NetSuite.
Crucial in Island Rose’s operations is NetSuite’s order management functionality, which automates the processing of 75,000 shipments to locations across the Philippines, from the data encoded and payment processing in its online site to deployment through logistics providers, such as LBC and DHL. NetSuite enables Island Rose to efficiently handle order during peak demand, particularly on special gift-giving seasons, such as Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day.
“By using the NetSuite cloud, we are leaner and stronger organization better fit to serve our customers,” stressed Dustin Andaya, founder and marketing director of Island Rose. “We need not focus our attention on how to maintain and operate our data infrastructure and instead strategize on keeping our customers happy with the experience buying from our online store.”
Island Rose also maintains hundreds of thousands of customer records in NetSuite leveraging its CRM capabilities, with registered customer profiles for building relationships and marketing. In addition, key operational processes are being enabled by NetSuite’s line of cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, such as financials and inventory management, all executed on the cloud.
Having such systems in place, Island Rose is dead-set on expanding its retail business online and contributing its share to the growth of online retailing in the Philippines.
And, of course, turning more and more Filipinos into satisfied online shoppers.
(James Dantow is VP for Worldwide Support and GM for the Philippines, NetSuite)