Digital transformation is no longer an option for Philippine businesses but an inevitability, according to executives from Voyager Innovations and PayMaya Philippines.
The executives noted that businesses must begin laying the foundation of their digital transformation strategies today in order to stay relevant in their respective industries in the next three to five years.
According to IDC, at least 45% of enterprises in Asia Pacific belong to the “Digital Resister” stage of digital maturity, or those that provide weak customer experiences through digital. At least 33%, meanwhile, are “Digital Explorers,” or those that have digitally-enabled customer experiences and products.
Less than 25% of firms collectively fall under the “Digital Player,” “Digital Transformer,” and “Digital Disruptor” stages, which means Asia Pacific firms–including the ones located in the Philippines–still have a lot of catching up to do in order to adequately respond to the changing customer landscape.
“Consumers are already in digital, and for enterprises to grow and corner new markets, they must not wait until they are ready,” said Benjie Fernandez, Chief Operating Officer at Voyager. “Many businesses, both large and small alike, have already started their digital transformation. Others only stand to lose if they choose to wait this out.”
Dindo Marzan, Managing Director and Head of Voyager Business, says that in emerging markets such as the Philippines, there are three pillars of digital, namely access, e-commerce, and financial technology (fintech).
Access: Reach customers via mobile
“The digital transformation journey doesn’t happen overnight,” emphasized Marzan. “Firms must begin investing today, no matter how small, in order to ride the digital wave of the future.”
In particular, Marzan said businesses may focus their digital efforts in bringing their retail offerings online, providing a smooth payment system for customers, increasing engagement and access on their digital platforms, and reaching customers through the channel they use the most–mobile.
Marzan says Voyager is addressing the issue regarding access with freenet, the sponsored data platform of the company. Through freenet, brands and enterprises can provide free access to their mobile apps or websites to their customers without data charges for Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers.
And to help brands reach their markets via mobile, the company has hatch, which offers a selection of rich mobile marketing services such as SMS+, mobile magazines, pop-up stores, zero-rating, and customer surveys, among others, that can be deployed to the tens of millions of consumers in its mobile opt-in base.
Ready for e-commerce
With all the access technologies and services in place, Philippine businesses are now primed for e-commerce. However, many still don’t have a website, especially the SMEs.
Mitch Padua, Managing Director for Digital Commerce at Voyager Commerce, says that among the 1 million registered SMEs in the Philippines, only 1% have their own website.
Padua attributes this low adoption rate to the cost of putting up an online platform and the number of consumers connected to the internet. “Businesses think that there is no ROI with putting up a website,” says Padua.
Padua says Voyager has addressed this concern with TackThis! Concierge, a fully managed e-Commerce service suite that makes it easy for brands to sell easily online. TackThis! Concierge helps businesses put up their online stores, manage payments and logistics platforms, and even help with digital marketing for products so that firms can focus on running their core businesses.
In addition, large enterprises can take advantage of Takatack Rewards to digitally enable their rewards and incentives systems by providing an e-wallet to their employees, which they can spend on Takatack, one of the largest online marketplaces in the country today.
The company also has the Voyager E-Commerce Marketplace (VEM) Solution, a cloud-hosted software-as-a-service (SAAS) platform that’s mainly targeted at large enterprises. Among the clients of the VEM is Philippine Airlines, which uses the service to power its PAL Online Boutique Store, the airline’s 24/7 shopping site.
Fintech: Not accepting payments is a threat
E-commerce isn’t really e-commerce if no online transactions take place. And for online transactions to take off, cashless payment systems must be in place.
“Payments are at the heart of the digital economy,” says Paolo Azzola, Co-Coo, PayMaya Philippines. “Accepting online payments is a great opportunity for businesses and not being there is a threat.”
To help businesses accept online payments, the company has developed PayMaya Business, a platform that makes it easy and convenient for merchants to accept card payments both online and face-to-face. This is made possible by PayMaya Swipe and PayMaya Checkout.
PayMaya Swipe is a mobile point-of-sale solution that allows a business to accept card payments. With PayMaya Checkout, business will be able to accept card payments online, through a simple integration with our payment solution. PayMaya provides a suite of APIs that allows businesses to integrate with its payment platform.
Azzola revealed that the company has plans to launch a service that would enable micro merchants to accept payments without having to invest in costly devices.