I have been in the e-Commerce business for many years now. I first started doing business on the Internet in the early 1990s, and there were few doing e-commerce when I got started. Mostly, I am a merchant, selling items over the Internet. From time to time, though, it is good for a merchant like me to shop online so that I can see how another e-commerce business operates, experience their checkout experience, etc. It’s a good learning experience.
I do actually purchase on the Internet on a fairly regular basis, from companies like Amazon and other large Internet retailers. I also purchase things on eBay on a fairly regular basis.
I live in the Philippines, though, and to be honest, it’s been a long time since I tried out any e-commerce purchases from Philippine sites. The last I recall was back about 10 years ago when I bought something on MyAyala, which has now changed names. The experience was just “OK,” and in many ways, it was not all that great. The payment system was poor and required that I go to a bank to deposit money, etc, something that could not be completed online at the time of purchase.
About 3 or 4 weeks ago, I was watching TV, a show about business on a local Philippine News Channel. They were featuring a Philippine Company that makes shoes out of recycled materials. The company is called “Manila Soles,” which I found to be a cute name too. The shoes looked very stylish and comfortable and were priced very reasonably too, around $20 per pair. I decided that I wanted a pair. I searched in my local malls and shoe stores but was unable to find any shoes from this company here in Davao where I live. We are about 700 or so miles from Manila, and it seems that Manila Soles has yet to move into the Davao marketplace. Because of this, I was looking online for their shoes to see what I could find.
I found that Manila Soles has an e-commerce site, which is on Multiply.com. My past impressions of Multiply were somewhat negative but dated back a few years. Last time I looked at what Multiply was doing in the way of e-Commerce, it was not a mature solution – no real payment system, and all seemed to be rather loosely put together. I was certainly unimpressed. About 6 months ago, or so, I met the Country Manager of Multiply Philippines, Jack Madrid. Jack and I were both speakers at a conference in General Santos City. I liked Jack and found him to be a pretty intelligent guy, so I wanted to watch Multiply and see how they progressed in the area of e-Commerce. So, when I saw that Manila Soles was using Multiply, I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how Multiply has matured in the e-commerce business.
So, on a Tuesday afternoon, I decided to order a pair of Manila Soles shoes through their online Multiply store. To be honest, I was a bit leery about making the purchase, but since the price for shoes was quite low, I decided that the risk was low. I chose my shoes and went through the checkout process. One thing that made me quite happy was that one of the payment options is through Paypal. I like to use Paypal for shopping online, it is convenient and safe. During checkout, everything went smoothly, and I was pretty happy with my shopping experience. The only downside to me was that they did not e-mail me an order confirmation or receipt for my purchase. After I completed the purchase, there was a confirmation on the website, but I was looking for an e-mail confirmation. I decided to print out the website confirmation, just so that I would have some evidence that I had made the purchase and paid. I had decided that if I did not have my shoes within one week, I would file a claim with Paypal and get the charges reversed.
On Thursday morning, my son came to my office with a package, which turned out to be the shoes that I ordered! Wow, less than 2 days after ordering, and they had already arrived. I was impressed. Not only that but when I checked out the shoes and tried them on, I was further impressed. The shoes looked great, were comfortable, and fit me well. What more could I ask for?
Good job, Manila Soles, and Multiply too! You have impressed me with the great service and smooth process of ordering online. My only recommendation would be an e-mail order confirmation. Other than that, it was a perfect online shopping experience. I am actually thinking of ordering a few more pairs of Manila Soles in different colors and styles!
I’ve been looking of setting up an ecommerce site for my biz in the Philippines and tried a few options but there was so much red tape like signing a contract pdf and emailing it back to them. I think I’ll give Multiply a 2nd look. Have you observed Philipppine ecommerce on Facebook? Pretty interesting where “stores” post something for sale, the buyer sends them a DM stating their interest. The store DMs them back bank info to deposit. The buyer takes a pict of the deposit slip and posts it on the store page as proof of payment. The store then takes a pict of the goods w/ shipment tracking and posts it on their wall and tags the buyer. They buyer then takes a pict of the goods once they receive it and posts it on the store wall. Fascinating.
Hi Christian – Really the whole DM/pictures/deposit in the bank things is not really e-commerce to me. With true e-commerce you can do everything online. I find it almost comical when people do business that way and call it e-commerce!
You don’t have to pay big money to have a quality shopping cart system and do true e-commerce. You can have a store on the internet using opencart or OS-commerce for free, and have a quality presence.
I’ve been talking to people about this (usage of free sites for their stores; misuse of social networking sites for their stores…) and though I understand that sometimes smaller or micro businesses need to break into the internet somehow and use free sites such as Multiply or Blogger. Having your own website though, changes the game between a small independent seller to a serious online merchant. Getting your own website should not be difficult a process as well, at least in my opinion. A website for your business should work for your business and increase the sales, selling potential and credibility of your brand. I completely agree with you Robert, the whole DM/PM thing is really not a good way to run an online business. No offense to multiply and other free sites – I would use them too if I were just starting and have minimal funds however if I wanted to be really serious about my online store/shop, I’d use my own domain. 2 cents, dropped.
Hi Ian – I agree completely, having your own website is really important, in my opinion. It shows that you are a real business, not just somebody trying something out. And, really, even if you have little money, a website only costs a few dollars per month for hosting.
Bob I know if you said it, it was probably right! I have known you for a long time but never hear from you. Wonder why?
Hi David! Nice to hear from you. To be honest, I have sent you several very long e-mails over the years, but got no reply from you. Maybe you did not get the e-mails? I can’t be sure. I really would like to reconnect, though.
what would you suggest as a personal e-commerce site?
i bought my own domain (.ph) but didnt know which one to get. i also signed up for multiply, but i dont like the interface of their e-commerce. i also dont want to use Facebook pages to actually sell the product. i saw shopify or volusion looks really nice but i think they’re both expensive monthly. is Yola or Webs good?
hope you can help! 🙂 thanks!
Hi jane, I would recommend either OSCommerce or OpenCart, both are great open source eCommerce platforms.
http://www.gobunch.com is a great ecommerce site in the Philippines!