E-commerce ‘biggest entrepreneurial opportunity’ in PH — Lazada CEO
For a company that prides itself as the biggest online shopping destination in Southeast Asia, the five-year-old Lazada Group still has a lot to learn in the field of e-commerce, according to its cofounder and CEO Inanc Balci.
In April 2016, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba sealed a $1-billion deal with Lazada and bought $500 million in new shares as part of its expansion plain in Southeast Asia, its biggest overseas investment yet to date. Another milestone that Lazada marked last year was its integration with Singapore-based grocery e-commerce RedMart.
“[Our partnership with Alibaba] is going great. We are learning a significant lot of things from Alibaba. It is as if we are a child in a primary school and we are learning every day and we are applying those learnings in our business at the strategic level,” Balci said at Lazada’s fifth anniversary event in Makati on Tuesday.
“What we are doing at the moment, this is one of the learnings that we got from Alibaba, is we focus on our core business and we are creating an ecosystem among ourselves,” he added.
Balci said Lazada sent five of its merchants last month to the Alibaba Campus in China “so that they could get the best training from Alibaba sellers, merchants, and trainers.”
Lazada, a one-stop online retailer based in Singapore, was launched in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines in 2012 and in Singapore in 2014. Today, with over 2,000 employees, Balci said the company occupies a 91-percent share in the Philippines’ e-commerce category in just five years of existence, selling about 6.3 million items and more than 14,000 brands.
“This is also my fifth year in the Philippines and we love doing our job in the Philippines. We started from nothing, and we are trying to bring the e-commerce of the Philippines to the next level,” Balci said.
“We have been working really hard in the past five years and the question always is, how is Lazada doing? Our vision for the next five years is to become a technology-driven platform empowering our sellers and brands for our customers. We identify ourselves five pillars of growth: assortment, empowering sellers and brands, customer experience, seller and product transparency, and ecosystem,” he added.
Balci reiterated Lazada’s commitment to make the Philippines the next top e-commerce hub in the region and in the world by encouraging more people to sell and shop online. E-commerce, he said, is the “biggest entrepreneurial opportunity” in the Philippines in this day and age as it reaches more consumers without having to invest millions.
“Why should someone sell in Lazada? One of the most frequent questions I get is if we are competing with shopping malls. The obvious thing is Lazada does not compete with any of the offline stores. What we do is we offer an additional sales channel to all the businesses in the Philippines so they can reach out anyone in the Philippines,” he said.
“This is the reason why I’m saying that Lazada is the biggest entrepreneurial opportunity. There is no bigger entrepreneurial opportunity in the Philippines other than Lazada. Why? Because you don’t need any investment in order to reach millions of pesos. You don’t even need a laptop. You only need an Android phone to start selling on Lazada… And at the same time Lazada is a level playing field. Even if you are the smallest merchant, even if you are the largest corporation in the Philippines, you get the same rates,” Banci added.
By yearend, Lazada is eyeing to expand its innovation by utilizing its brand assets and increase, partnerships by maximizing co-marketing efforts with additional 60 local and international brands, and attracting more brands that see it as a disruptive sales channel.
“We want people to buy things easy, affordable without spending a lot of time. And I think e-commerce is the best thing that can provide this to customers in the Philippines and again our birthday wish is a great economy for the Philippines and a larger e-commerce landscape,” Banci said.
“I think Lazada is one of the biggest contributors in e-commerce in the Philippines. We have been investing heavily in different parts of the Philippines starting with logistics to marketing, for it to be one of the top e-commerce countries in the world,” he added.
As part of its 5th anniversary, Lazada is holding a big sale from March 21to 23 with discounts of up to 90 percent, time-based flash sales, exclusive offers from popular brands, and raffle prizes like tour packages. Visit www.lazada.com.ph or download the Lazada mobile app for details. JE