MANILA, Philippines — Erstwhile social networking site Multiply.com is prepping up to overhaul its online platform this year as it makes a bid to corner more of the online commerce markets in the Philippines and Indonesia, executives said at a briefing on Tuesday.
Fresh from the move of its corporate headquarters from Florida to Indonesia and the installation of its new global chief executive, Multiply is hitting the ground running with its social commerce initiatives in the two key markets.
Executives said they have baked into the online service several commerce-focused features that would help online entrepreneurs would find convenient, such as a shopping cart, a detailed product listing, an inventory management and a dedicated Merchant Dashboard.
But Stefan Magdalinski, the new CEO of Multiply, said they are building a completely new platform that would enhance these commerce features and is slated to debut by the end of this year.
“We are aiming to have the new site relaunched in time for the Christmas period,” Magdalinski said during his first meeting with the press in the Philippines. “In the new platform, we will probably mandate certain styles of user experience, but we will also encourage shop owners to check out systems that work.”
Magdalinski underscored the fact that online shopping today is still challenging on the part of the user, where right payment methods, returns, purchases, and user experiences all play a part.
“Convenience is where e-Commerce is hard. This is where we fight it out,” he added.
The Multiply executive said that as a market, the Philippines is a lot more innovative regarding payment options, what with the proliferation of mobile, ATM, and brick-and-mortar payment facilities that give the unbanked opportunities to transact online.
The social commerce company, however, noted how online payments using credit cards now comprise about three-fourths of the company’s gross merchandise value since they launched the facility in November 2011, suggesting an increased preference for the payment method.
Initially conceived as a social networking site that pre-dated the boom of Facebook, Multiply had taken a turn in recent years due mainly to the unique way it has been used by users specifically in the Southeast Asian region.
“Customers in Southeast Asia were using Multiply as a trading platform to buy and sell goods, which was somewhat surprising since it was against our terms of service at the time,” related Peter Pezaries, erstwhile chief executive and founder of the Internet company.
Owing to this unique usage pattern by its Southeast Asian users, the company decided to shift its strategy and focus by becoming an easy to use e-commerce platform following its acquisition by Naspers in 2010.
To date, Multiply has approximately 5.5 million users in the Philippines, about 130,000 of which are online store fronts carrying items from as much as 16 product categories, the most popular of which are consumer electronics, women’s apparel and baby supplies.
In the Philippines, the company — through its head, Jack Madrid — is one of those leading the charge toward greater growth for e-commerce in the country, which as of late remains at its nascent stages.
A competing platform, Sulit.com.ph, is also owned by Naspers. The two Philippine-based e-commerce sites are part of the newly established Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines (DCOM), which seeks to promote the use of online commerce in the country.