As holiday shoppers turned to the Internet to buy gifts for themselves and their loved ones ahead of Christmas, resilient fixed and mobile networks by the country’s largest integrated telco PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc (Smart) enabled their customers to shop on e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada in the ‘new normal.’
According to Shopee, its latest 12.12 sale sold a record-breaking 12 million items in the first 24 minutes, with as many as a million items bought in a minute at its peak. About a million smartphone accessories were sold during the sale, the most popular items being phone cases, phone covers, and power banks.
Lazada, on the other hand, reported a 250-percent increase in daily sales for the year, as e-commerce flourished with more people homebound because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of sellers and the use of cashless payments also increased this year, while sales of digital goods like mobile load and e-vouchers also increased eight-fold.
Smart has also partnered with Shopee and Lazada in expanding Smart’s retail channel, adding more digital avenues through which Smart’s customers can purchase load. Smart customers can also use ShopeePay in paying their postpaid bills.
“Life under lockdown pushed the rapid adoption of online and digital services. It became even more evident how digital transformation and the use of digital technology have become important for Filipinos in coping with the present crisis,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer. “Internet connectivity fuels this rapid adoption, therefore becoming the foundation of the digital economy.”
Panlilio highlighted the importance of connectivity in empowering small and medium businesses as well as large-scale enterprises in weathering the impact of COVID-19 by enabling them to reach their customers through these online e-commerce platforms.
“To remain relevant to our customers, we have to make sure that in this complex world, where information and content abound, and life is literally lived through the palm of people’s hands, we empower the digital lives of our consumers in the simplest way possible,” Panlilio said.
To support this increase in demand, PLDT and Smart further expanded the reach and capacity of their fixed and wireless networks across the country this year, despite the challenges of COVID-19.
PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country, is now at more than 422,000 kilometers. This fiber infrastructure supports Smart’s 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G networks, which cover 96% of the population and are present in 95% of cities and municipalities. As of November, Smart has also increased the number of its base stations to over 58,000, increasing the number of base stations by 20% compared to end-2019. Smart has also rolled out additional 5G sites as it accelerates its 5G commercial services nationwide.
To deliver world-class service and deliver better customer experience, Panlilio said that PLDT and Smart will continue to invest in its network. “With the surge in demand for data, we are prepared to invest between Php 88 billion and Php 92 billion next year to meet the requirements of all our mobile and fixed line customers. Providing good customer experience remains to be our ‘North Star’, as we aim to elevate PLDT and Smart to the level of global operators,” he said.