Business & Leisure Column

E-commerce in PH soars

Over ten years ago, there wasn't much e-commerce to speak of in the Philippines. As for internet penetration, we still have a long way to go now if we want to catch up with our neighbors in the region, but ten, fifteen years ago, we were in a more sorry situation as far as the internet is concerned. But e-commerce is the way to go now for micro and small entrepreneurs, those start-ups who cannot afford to put up stone and mortar stores but who are eager to trade on the net and sell their products. And the Philippines has finally spawned a new generation of e-commerce traders now.


Bjorn Pardo was one such e-commerce trader back in 2004 when he started selling on line. He grew up in the US but when he was a young teenager, he remembers starting his fascination with trading on line, and he discovered E-Bay, selling anything that he could re-sell and shipping them to his buyers. But Bjorn considers the Philippines his home, so he went back to his country of birth to finish his college education.


E-commerce was very young in the Philippines back in 2004, his senior year in college. Even before graduating, he was dabbling with e-commerce and he remembers his frustration at the lack of dependable logistics companies in the country. Shipping the goods to buyers on time was a daily problem. That's how Xend, the international logistics and courier service company was born.


Xend is a hybrid of logistics, e-commerce and technology. The business solutions that this company offers afford our local micro and small entrepreneurs the benefits of technology that make doing business easier, faster, more dependable and more affordable as well. It now allows more micro and small entrepreneurs the opportunity to do business from the comforts of their home.


When Xend started, the staff consisted of three people: Bjorn, an all-around office girl, and a courier. In just twelve years, they have leap-frogged their way to success. Perhaps it is the convenience and reliability they offer, the ease of doing business that Xend clients have discovered. They now have on the average about three thousand pick-ups a day for delivery and his much bigger staff handles about ten thousand transactions every day. Bjorn shared that about five thousand people sign up with them every month to use their courier services.


He said he was only lucky that their company grew as the Philippine market itself grew. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for him. Internet penetration in the country, though not yet at an optimum level because the industry is still a duopoly, has also been increasing steadily over the years. Needless to say, this is vital to the business, and lady luck has smiled at him. On record, Xend has delivered at least ten million parcels since they started doing business.


The company has a fleet of vehicles for deliveries, but most of Xend's fleet is composed of motorcycles. Bjorn finds that this gives them more mobility even as Metro Manila grapples with a horrendous traffic problem. These motor cycles are cheaper to purchase and maintain, and they get the parcels delivered to their destination in quicker time. In fact, Bjorn says he doesn't see his company going into the big cargo business any time soon.


Because of the increasing volume of business that Xend handles now, they have partnered with some courier companies to handle shipments in the Visayas and Mindanao areas. The company, though, handles the greater metro area and all of Luzon.


E-commerce in the Philippines has definitely come of age, but Bjorn points out that if one were to look at sales generated from this venue, it is a mere one per cent of the total retail sales in the country as against our ASEAN neighbors that register much higher figures of five to seven per cent. We have a lot of catching up to do in this field, but this led this young e-commerce innovator to look beyond Xend.


Bjorn has opened a new services center called Ginio. He was inspired by the endless opportunities for trade offered in the United States, which can be shared with Filipinos. The company sources out items from the US which can be shipped to the Philippines in one week. There are indeed so many promos, unbelievable discounts, closing-out sales of items not available locally, and these are what Ginio sources to sell here in the Philippines.


Bjorn remembers that he started out as an individual entrepreneur who had his share of struggles but he persevered. Back then, he felt that no one was supporting the small entrepreneurs and only the big companies got the best terms, the best discounts and the value-added services that would have spelled a big difference for them. He says that with Xend, he hopes to level the playing field for the micro and small entrepreneurs so they too can attain success in their ventures. The Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines has finally been formalized and Bjorn was elected president. He hopes to help educate the small entrepreneurs, the start-ups especially, set up their own on-line stores and be in business.


Now, Bjorn talks about "operationalizing our entrepreneur database and converting this into Xend outlets or Neighborhood Partners. This is aligned with our mission of servicing our entrepreneur base and giving them opportunities to earn more." Watch out for this.


This Globe Platinum Ambassador is, before anything else, a family man. This father of four says his wife Sarah and his kids are his purpose, giving him endless inspiration to grow as a person and to innovate. The family enjoys travelling together.


His advice to young entrepreneurs? When you get into business, start with something that you are passionate about, not something that you think will earn you a windfall. That will come later. Then, persevere. That makes all the difference.


Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.


For inquiries and comments (email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com


Archive

About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)