A period when Zoom webinars became a norm and online shopping in the country increased by more than 50 %, this was also a shining moment for the contactless payment , which many would have been skeptical of a year ago , but was welcomed more and more as people further embrace online shopping or avoid paper cash to veer away from this possible vector of virus .
Digital transformation . Cashless payment . E-commerce . These are some of the words that resonated with businesses , which many were caught off guard in the closing of the first quarter of the year , when lockdown was imposed on March 17 .
The Philippine Retailing Magazine talked with Globe Business Vice President for Product Management and Marketing , Mr . Raymond Policarpio , to share their journey this year as they help businesses pivot to digital . Raymond who spent his entire career working in the telco industry has been with Globe for the last 15 years and handled several roles in Corporate Strategy , Product Development and Management , and Brand Management and Marketing with both B2B and B2C market experience .
Raymond shares that during the ECQ , there was a notable increase in digital payments , as he has observed with their mobile wallet app GCash . Prevalent activities have been bank cash-in , including Instapay , and online payments to Lazada , Google , Apple , and various other merchants . Its usage surged by 700 % in May this year compared to a year-ago level .
“ Sharing the report by We are Social PH last July 2020 , there was a 76 % increase in eCommerce sales in June 2020 . As retailers implement an omnichannel approach , we also see their share of online sales increase from 2-3 % up to 30 % in their overall sales ,” he reveals .
“ I think these statistics alone are affirming a big shift from offline to online due to the pandemic .”
When the pandemic hit and demands from different enterprises and government units to go digital accelerated , it dawned on Raymond and his team that now is the best time to position themselves better and steward enterprises to digital transformation .
Since the lockdown began in March 2020 , Globe Business has powered over 300 companies ’ remote work requirements through Prepaid WiFi and Zoom , with Globe as the only reseller of Zoom in the Philippines . Raymond also shares that they have enabled remote schooling through partnerships with private schools and LGUs with connectivity solutions .
“ Globe Business is now going beyond Connectivity Solutions , which is expected from a Telco . We are aggressively enabling companies to adapt to the changing business environment brought about by the pandemic . We have been conscious of the pandemic ' s impacts , and we continuously see through where we can further help ,” he shares .
Raymond also recounts how their 70-year-old book store client evolved and pivoted during this time to continuously serve their customers .
“ Accelerated digitalization has also emerged across multiple industries . With the expanding ICT footprint of Globe Business and leveraging Globe ' s 917Ventures , we ' re now enabling companies to cope with the market demands for contactless and e-commerce solutions . One instance is REX Book Store Inc .”
The Globe Business Team helped REX book store revamp their ecommerce website to provide a better customer experience and improve sales . They also digitalized the existing printed material of REX called HOMES ( Home Based Opportunity Mentoring for Every Student ), a learning solution that guides parents and guardians in conducting home-based learning .
To improve website performance and user experience , they needed to enhance the technology used in the backend , especially in terms of speed and design .
“ REX is just one of the companies we ' re helping . We ' re also working with other industry players for their e-commerce and contactless systems . Let ' s keep those a secret for now !”
“ We remain to be a “ CASH ” country as of date ,” reveals Raymond . The majority of Filipinos remain unbanked , with only 32 % having an account in a financial institution and only 1.9 % with a credit card . Only 9.9 % make online purchases and pay bills online . Only 8 out of 10 would have smartphones in urban areas , and 4 out of 10 in rural areas . In this case , we only have 67 % of the population who can connect to the internet .
In terms of improvements , Raymond has
observed that there is a growing shift in behavior where people are more open and comfortable with contactless or cashless transactions , as seen over Facebook , Instagram , Viber , and other online communities .
“ Thanks to social media , where the flock is , it ’ s where other customers will follow , and right now , it ’ s in online shopping . Online commerce ( website , app , and social ) and digital payments are slowly becoming a widely accepted norm in the country . There is also a growing acceptance in e-payments , even in physical stores , and banks are already embracing online payments .”
“ But of course , I agree that we can do more ,” he adds .
“ We need to democratize further , be more financially inclusive , and bring these services to more Filipinos . The contactless exchange should reach the grassroots level like the sari-sari stores , smaller establishments , and person-to-person . This is where the likes of GCash can come into play because the customer will only need a mobile phone to save , earn credits , and do so much more . Through contactless solutions and digital payments , we can enable all retail players — from large enterprises to solo entrepreneurs — to contribute more to the industry ’ s growth .” Shifting online does not mean moving away from offline . With digitalization , the boundary between offline and online has only blurred . As a result , Filipino retailers should be able to extend their brand of customer service even to the online channels . In the end , the consumer will not view it as to whether they are transacting in one ’ s online or physical store . They will see it as transacting with one and the same retailer brand .
Raymond mulls that the pandemic may no longer be around in the foreseeable future , but through the course of it , there ' s already a shift in customer behavior . Because of the behavioral shift , e-payments will further expand , and the value of digital currency will grow .
“ From a business standpoint , digital payments will be more integrated into an ecosystem , so let ' s expect customers to transact electronically more frequently ,” he foresees . Raymond believes that a multi-channel solution to provide consumers different ways to shop will be the key now .
“ Before the pandemic , 80 % of sales come from in-store . But now , from the customers contributing to those in-store sales , 25 % of them are saying that they will shop less at stores moving forward . This change from in-store patronage only reaffirms that retailers need to adopt a hybrid fulfillment model ,” he shares .
He further advises that retailers need to double down on solutions and approaches , where they can reduce cost , increase revenue , open up safely , and engage on a new level with their consumers .
“ For example , migration to the cloud can help provide a better and seamless e-commerce experience . Machine learning can help facilitate optimal personalized experience . Contactless solutions in-store can help retailers open safely for consumers through systems that ensure physical distancing is strictly followed ,” he adds .
Still , he reiterates that at the heart of it all , it is about being customer-centric and gaining a deeper understanding of how consumers use both online and offline channels .
“ The task of businesses now is to make sure their consumers get the best experience in both channels , which requires optimizing the entire value chain .”
Things to remember on embarking into e-commerce
E-Commerce requires the efficient use of resources to target online consumers while making sure they experience the best digital journey — from search , actual seller page experience , and customer support , to delivery and fulfillment .
A good customer experience within the brick-and-mortar should be virtually and remotely replicated . The convenience to customers should still be there , and how a retailer takes care of their customers in-store should also have a similar experience in an e-commerce platform .
Personalization is another gauge for good customer experience . Are we using data analytics and machine learning to build an engaging experience ? 71 % of e-commerce users feel frustrated when shopping experiences aren ’ t personalized .
Technology is there to support , not to hinder or confuse the market . It should just be an extension of how you reach out to your customer . They should complement each other . It ’ s not a zero-sum game wherein you close the brick-and-mortar , and you just shift to online . It can and should be both .