Indonesia’s cashback mobile application has launched in the Philippines. Filipino shoppers can now get cashback for buying groceries at their usual convenience stores through the Snapcart platform. The company has been recognized by Accenture and Omnicom Media as one of the best startups in Asia.

How does Snapcart work?

Users can simply snap their grocery receipts from any retail establishments, for example, popular department store Robinsons or 7/11. They can then upload the receipt onto the Snapcart application and get cashback as much as 10-20% on items bought under offer. This could mean that a shopper gets $2 back for a $10 lip gloss purchase from a brand partner.  Currently, Snapcart is promoting more than 200 items on offer.

In Indonesia, Snapcart’s home turf, the app had 500,000 downloads in less than 10 months. Currently, it has over 75 brands providing cashback to their shoppers.

Snapcart Interface

Snapcart’s value for brands

It’s not only shoppers that get something out of the app. Information from users’ receipts go back to the startup’s database where it is compiled and used to provide clients with valuable insights on consumer spending.

For brands and enterprises, Snapcart provides real time market intelligence and consumer data on how shoppers consume and interact with different brands. The app is able to engage the audience, measure brand KPIs and predict return on investments. This is something that Snapcart can provide more efficiently over market research studies, as the app gets real time, real access to user data.

Why choose the Philippines?

Similarly to Indonesia, Philippines has a digitally savvy population, where smartphone penetration is at 40% and growing rapidly, with the potential to double by 2018.

Like Indonesia, modern retail is a fast growing segment. Snapcart’s downloads in the first few days is already set to match, if not surpass Indonesia. – Teresa Condicion, Snapcart’s Co-Founder and Snapcart Philippines’ Country Manager.

Southeast Asia loves to snack.

According to insights from Nielsen, Filipino consumers enjoy snacking so much, 74% view it as a source of nutrition. Consumers continuously look for snacks which offer health benefits, but are also looking for an occasional treat.

In contrast, Indonesians, Malaysians, Singaporeans, and Vietnamese rank enjoyment as the foremost reason for snacking, while eight out of 10 Thai consumers (79%) snack to satisfy a craving.

Filipino respondents to the Nielsen survey choose from a wide variety of snacks, preferring bread above others, followed by fruit and chocolate. Filipino consumers also exhibit characteristics of spontaneous snackers, including trying new snacks, buying a variety of snacks, and making unplanned snack purchases. Spontaneous snackers often eat snacks as soon as they buy them and tend to buy snacks at the check-out counter.

This kind of consumption trend makes Philippines an ideal location for Snapcart – the cashback would benefit consumers greatly and a wide array of different consumer behaviors and insights collected from shopping habits in grocery stores would allow brands to better serve them.

ZALORA, in partnership with Globe Telecom, recently opened its second pop-up store which aims to ease Filipino shoppers into the convenience of online shopping.

Fast fashion continues to evolve and adapt to the shifting demands of consumers, and the partnership between ZALORA and Globe provides a new innovative experience for customers, who were given the opportunity to shop offline for an online marketplace.

Globe Postpaid customers are in for special perks with discounts at the ZALORA Pop Up Store. This discount offer can be availed as many times until Jan 31, 2017, providing half a year’s worth of discounts.

Deviating from the common cashier system, the ZALORA Pop-up Store lets visitors use the power of their mobile phones or through the provided gadgets.

ZALORA has rolled out its brick and mortar initiative in Singapore last year, as an attempt to bring the online experience offline, where customers can browse through racks and get a physical sense of the clothes usually sold online. The purchased products will then be delivered to the customers’ doorsteps.

ZALORA’s temporary retail concept is a good way to reach out to customers at different locations across the world at different periods of time, and allows the brand to inject fresh concepts to buyers who may be bored of simply clicking online to find clothes.

In a highly competitive market, retailers and online marketplaces have to constantly innovative the customer experience in order to maintain shoppers’ loyalty and interest. ZALORA’s offline and online collaboration aims to provide full service to customers, from offering physical products to try on, free wifi to browse collections online and hands-free shipping.

A version of this appeared in Orange Magazine on August 3. Read the full version here.

UnionBank brings Ureka Forum to Mindanao


UnionBank of the Philippines and its consortium partners are bringing the ecommerce circuit, Ureka Forum, for the first time to Mindanao. Ureka Forum is Philippines’ largest ecommerce conference, aimed to advance local SMEs innovation via ecommerce.

The conference will be held on July 23 following two previous successful conferences held in Baguio City and Iloilo City October 2015 and January 2016, respectively.

“For a long time, Mindanao has been called ‘the land of opportunity,’ and today more than ever, we expect even more investors to focus their attention on Mindanao,” said Genaro Lapez, UnionBank executive vice president and Ureka Forum’s lead convenor.

Started last year, Ureka Forum is open to all “registered SMEs coming from different industries who look at ecommerce as a necessary platform to grow and expand their businesses.

The fast growing Philippines

Philippines has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates among emerging markets in the world, but a recent study by Frost & Sullivan revealed that the Philippines lagged behind neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam in terms of ecommerce market maturity. 

The Google study showed that only 1% of small and medium enterprises or SMEs even have a website. These are the same SMEs that represent close to 98% of all registered businesses in the Philippines at which historically, employed goes to two thirds of the Philippine workforce.

Lapez believes however, things may change in the next four years and the Philippines would overrun Singapore by 2.97% by 2020.

“Assuming that there is a steady and solid economic growth and corresponding infrastructure improvements, Philippine ecommerce could grow 20.67% from 2016 to 2020 right behind leader, Malaysia,” added Lopez. He also mentioned the goal was to have no less than 100,000 SMEs doing ecommerce, representing no less than 10% of the country’s GDP by 2020.

After the last two road shows, the forum is now servicing around 150 SMEs from individual artists to retail and food corporations.  

With burgeoning industries such as business process outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing, new commercial complexes such as shopping malls as well as constantly improving infrastructure to augment its traditional agribusiness and tourism strengths, Davao City has emerged as one of the Philippines’ rising economic cores.

A version of this appeared in The Standard on July 16. Read the full article here.

Online shopping is surging in the Philippines, ecommerce is expected to reach $4.69 billion by 2020, reports Tech In Asia.

More and more Filipinos are getting their hands on smart devices and combined with lower mobile data offers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that online shopping is the next big wave in Philippines.

Filipino shoppers have swapped bulks for baskets

In 2012, The Nielsen Group found that shoppers in Philippines have switched their shopping carts for baskets. With plenty of convenience stores and grocery shops within walking distance from residential areas, most people don’t feel the need to buy in bulk.

Although Lazada currently holds the largest market share at 80%, they are still competing with Zalora, Hallo-Hallo and Go Buy.

One of the strongest driving forces for the average shopper is the deals offered by online marketplaces. Nine out of ten shoppers admit to usually buying more than planned for, opening up doors for retailers to try all sorts of promotions, from free items to ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ options.

Ecommerce has also taken off alongside increasing e-payment options. Aside from GCash and Smart Money (Smart Communications), alternatives such as DragonPay, PayPal, 7 Connect from the 7 Eleven franchise and Hello Pay have made online payments much easier for Filipinos.

How to capture the Filipino consumer

  • Exclusivity: Consumers, especially Filipinos, love to be at the forefront of new trends. Websites like have small inventories but ensures high quality. The site also features a 365-day guarantee, free of charges and fees.
  • Customer Service: Websites such as respond to customer queries within 24 hours.
  • Customization: Look to websites such as Hallo Hallo Mall, it provides customers with value per transaction with their point system. The site customizes the discount experience by letting users earn their own points, and use those to get the saving they want.

The market in Philippines is large enough for the ecommerce giants such as Lazada to make room for smaller players, as long as they make it a priority to diversify.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia on July 14. Read the full version here.

Smart Communications Inc., the wireless subsidiary of PLDT Inc. is spending $21 million (P1 billion) to expand the coverage of the country’s WiFi service reports The Philippines Star.

The project aims to expand WiFi coverage for transport hubs, government offices as well as business establishments in the country during this year. Smart Communications Inc. has stated that the $21 million budget allocated for WiFi expansion is a part of the $910 million capital expenditures set for this year.

Smart is currently working on the upgrade of the public WiFi hotspots in the four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, as well as other airports in high traffic areas. This expansion will surely benefit passengers and travelers who initially had low exposure to internet connectivity at airports.

Apart from airports, Smart WiFi is also being made available to passengers waiting at the terminals of big bus companies such as Five Star Bus, Jam Liner and Victory Liner.

Smart is also penetrating public areas such as city halls, malls and coffee shops to ensure that the city becomes more enhanced in internet connectivity.

This year, Smart has aggressively broadened the company’s WiFi footprint through partnerships with government institutions and business establishments, as they all have the same goal of improving internet coverage nationwide.

The company’s WiFi rollout is also in line with their aim to help boost SMEs operations in the country.

Through Smart’s Wi-Fi service, users could enjoy free connectivity for an initial number of minutes. For continued usage, they can purchase credits from Smart, similar to how one would top up a phone with credit. Smart’s WiFi service is supported by PLDT’s fixed networks, and the company plans to implement a three year network expansion program to better connect the country at a high speed rate.

A version of this appeared in The Philippine Star on July 11. Read the full version here.

Philippines Startup Launches Wifi Bundling Service, Wins Microsoft Grant

Now you can get free wifi when you buy your chocolate bars, thanks to Wifi Interactive Network

Microsoft is trying to get people in developing countries online. As a part of this initiative, the tech giant has launched ‘Affordable Access Initiative’, reports Tech in Asia.

Microsoft is partnering with local entrepreneurs and giving grants across the globe to startups that are working to provide affordable access in their  local markets. A Philippines based startup, Wifi Interactive Network (WIN) has won this grant through setting up a ‘wifi bundling’ startup. WIN gets brands to give wifi to the consumers by giving a wifi code that allows the consumer to connect to the local hotspot upon purchase.

WIN gets local brands in Philippines to carry the cost of installing and maintaining wifi hotspots at stores. This extends to small neighborhood convenience stores to bars. On the consumer’s side, it is also very straightforward, they simply need to register for access via smartphone and have the store approve the request, then they will receive a passcode for wifi access.

 Wifi Interactive Network (WIN) has won this grant with its ‘wifi bundling’ startup, which packages free wifi hotspots with typically bought consumer goods. 

WIN allows consumers to buy internet access in sachets. Sachets are a common way to buy consumer products, such as shampoo or milk in emerging markets, as they are cheaper than bottles. If a consumer buys a sachet of a sponsoring brand’s milk, they will get wifi access for usually 30 minutes.

This is a sustainable business model because the brands generate immediate revenue and acquire data analytics of purchase behavior at the store level. Philip Zulueta, WIN Founder

It monetizes by charging brands a monthly subscription fee per location, and now has 41 wifi hotspots. 34 in the capital with the rest in provinces in Luzon island.

The startup is planning to use the $150,000 funding from Microsoft to install base stations that will broadcast wifi signal to areas without any internet coverage.

By penetrating the low income markets, startups such as WIN are helping to boost the tech infrastructure of Philippines, as more people want access to data. Everyone has the potential to become a consumer, Philippines’ sachet market operates on smaller bite sizes with high purchase frequency, which is consistent with our sponsors’ target audience.

As WIN tackles the problem of consumers who can’t afford data plans that matches their income, its business model could go onto provide access to a whole new market segment.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on July 4. Read the full article here.