E-commerce proves to be viable business model for the mother-and-son team of Brenda and Bong Tuazon, founders of the Philippine’s first social commerce network, Bizchum (www.bizchum.com).
As early as 2003, the Tuazons had broken into the e-commerce industry with an online remittance company. Seeing that traffic was in buy and sell sites, they shifted their business to an online retail website, until it evolved to its current incarnation, Bizchum.
Bizchum is what the Tuazons call a “social commerce network,” the first of its kind in the Philippines, offering site users not only free classified ad postings, but also an avenue for social networking.
“This is where we differ from traditional e-commerce website,” notes Bizchum co-founder Bong Tuazon. “We extend the selling floor by offering sellers a venue for interacting with both existing and potential buyers. Whereas e-commerce is more on a transaction basis, Bizchum encourages the development of networks and relationships among the users of the site.”
Easy sign up
With a streamlined design, Bizchum enables online sellers to upload pictures of their wares, linked to their online profile. Signing up is easy, giving members the option to join with a single click, by linking their existing Facebook account to their Bizchum account. Searches are open to non-members, and items are organized into different categories for easier searching.
Functioning like an electronic bulletin board, Bizchum postings with the most likes are the top items shown on the homepage. Members can also add other members as “chummies,” post comments, and join the Bizchum forums.
“We’ve noticed that in other sites, there are no real connections being made. Establishing connections is key to growing a business—you need to get out there and connect with people, get recommendations. That’s what Bizchum is about,” adds Tuazon.
In setting up the Bizchum, the Tuazons were well aware of the competition in e-commerce. However, they are confident in the features of Bizchum, as well as the growing market for e-commerce.
“Of course, going into this, we did our homework—there are other, more established e-commerce sites that Filipinos use,” Tuazon reveals. “Bizchum offers an alternative. Even if you have an existing online store or presence in other e-commerce sites, Bizchum is additional channel for your items. The more presence you have online, the better your chances to earn extra income.”
Image-based postings also set Bizchum apart from other e-commerce sites.
“Online selling is highly dependent on pictures. Any buyer appreciates seeing pictures of what they’re about to buy,” states Tuazon. “On Bizchum, all postings are accompanied by pictures.”
Setting sights higher
Months after establishing its online presence, Bizchum is now steadily growing with over 24,000 members, and more than 60,000 visitors per day. With the revenues generated by premium ad placements on the site, the Tuazons are setting their sights higher for the next few months.
“We’re looking at over 100,000 in the next six months, but we’d like to see Bizchum grow to 1 million members,” Tuazon asserts. “As the site grows, we’d like to hire more local talents, especially programmers.”
With the site up and running, Tuazon stresses that there is still a constant stream of work to be done by the Bizchum team to maintain the site. “We’re always working on improvements for the site. We’re on the lookout for imperfections, making sure the site is clean and error free, and filtering prohibited items and spam entries from being posted on the site.”
Bizchum also remains the only 100 percent Filipino-owned e-commerce site, another important factor the Tuazons wish to maintain.
“We’ve experienced working with a foreign partner in our other online businesses, and we know the pitfalls—they can be all about the bottom line. They push their interests but offer little support,” avers Tuazon. “What we at Bizchum really want is to encourage Filipinos to get involved in entrepreneurship, to create network of business relationships and build friendships along the way.”