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Zoho offers to reinvent PH electronic commerce

Global software company Zoho Corp. is introducing its electronic commerce platform in the Philippines to enable companies, including small and medium enterprises, to have their own online stores supported by inventory, payments, logistics and last-mile delivery solutions.

“We have reduced the technology barrier for companies to go online,” Zoho vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific Gibu Mathew says in a news briefing in Manila.

Zoho, which has headquarters in California and Chennai, India provides a single online platform capable of running an entire business. It offers apps in nearly every major business category, including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting and back office operations and an array of productivity and collaboration tools.

Mathew, who has been working with Zoho for more than 18 years, says the software company is introducing Commerce Plus—a fully integrated, end-to-end platform for the commerce vertical that will help companies sell products and services in their own online stores.  

 Zoho vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific Gibu Mathew
 Zoho vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific Gibu Mathew
“About 95 percent of purchases by 2040 will be online. Over the next 20 years, you are going to see the industry being transformed from heavily retail-oriented to being more online-driven,” says Mathew, who leads product management and marketing efforts for the company’s technical cloud and on-premise solutions.

“If you look at the Philippines specifically, the demographics is supporting mobile phone use.  As the purchasing power of the next generation increases over the next 10 to 20 years, they are going to order online,” he says.

He says the Philippines and other Southeast Asian markets are following the lead of the US where e-commerce has been seeing dramatic growth.

“In the US, from 2014 to 2021, the e-commerce industry has gone from $1.3 trillion to $4.5 trillion, or more than 3.5 times in seven years.  That is quite a massive growth rate. That is something that can be expected.  Looking at the demographics of the Philippines and other markets in Southeast Asia, that is the biggest opportunity that all governments are looking at,” he says.

“It is not only about selling in your own country but about going regional or global.  That is a big opportunity for the nation,” says Mathew.  “The Philippine economy is switching from agriculture to heavily service-oriented.  People are now always connected.  There is a lot of things happening with consumers and consumers are now forcing e-commerce spending.”

Mathew says Zoho now has more than a thousand customers in the Philippines, a figure that is growing at three digits annually.  “We hope to sustain that growth for quite some time,” he says.

He says the Philippines is ripe for e-commerce growth as there are 76 million active social media users in the country.  Digital market spending in the Philippines is anticipated to reach $9.7 billion by 2025, he says.

Mathew says the next stage of e-commerce is the rise of individual online stores where businesses have control over advertising spend to drive traffic to their own stores.  At present, many companies congregate in large online marketplaces such as Lazada, Shopee or Zalora where they do not have control of their own traffic.

“Your brand is getting diluted there [online shopping marketplace].  Marketplace is actually fine to get started in, but if you are successful, you will go towards a branded store.  And if you start more and more successful, you start spending more money on advertising to drive traffic to your store.  You have to manage those advertising spend on social media,” he says.

He says Zoho offers full e-commerce solutions including payments, logistics, last-mile delivery, printing and shipping labels.  

“As a matter of fact, packaging is another important aspect of it.  Our artificial intelligence Zia can tell you the best package size for a particular product.  That is something that comes as a part of the whole platform.  We have tailored it for commerce,” he says.

Commerce Plus leverages Zoho’s customer experience, finance, analytics, and intelligence software to provide businesses an interconnected, first-of-its-kind commerce experience platform.

 “With Commerce Plus, we offer one platform to run an entire commerce business, allowing businesses to focus on what is important for success. Built on Zoho One, Commerce Plus is the operating system for commerce,” says Mathew.

By offering built-in templates, the platform allows users to quickly digitize their commerce business with minimal effort, he says.  It also allows users to sell across channels. 

Businesses can sell online through their own e-commerce store, third-party marketplaces, brick-and-mortar storefronts or other channels. It helps businesses maintain a single inventory of items sold across multiple channels. 

The Commerce Plus platform is integrated with Zoho’s Customer Experience platform, enabling businesses to offer a personalized experience to every visitor by combining information across customer touchpoints. For example, it can tailor the commerce experience based on whether a visitor is new, returning or high-valued. 

Commerce Plus is integrated with more than 40 global shipping providers, enabling businesses to create shipping labels directly from the software. Items can be shipped from either a single location or multiple warehouses, making the process seamless, according to Mathew.

All sales orders, purchases, expenses, and other transactions, including deposits to business bank accounts, are integrated with Zoho’s accounting system. 

“This is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive integration between an accounting system and a commerce system,” the software company says. 

Topics: Zoho Corp. , PH electronic commerce , software company , Commerce Plus , online stores
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