Photo shows: (From left to right) Bevin Manian, VP Retail Pro International; John Boe, senior director on Consulting Services Genie Technologies Inc.; Sriharsha lindala, VP Solution Advisor JDA software; Brian Fernandez, Sales Director, Capillary
FAILURE is the expected outcome for retailers who are unable to adopt to digital technologies. Those who are too slow to adopt will be left behind as consumer expectations heighten and e-commerce sales continue to rise.
This was the conclusion of a conversation with the media led by GenieTech Philippines Chief Operating Officer Mahesh Gopinath.
“In the whole business process it is important to understand that omnichannel is, and has not been for a long time, a buzzword. It is also not only a trend but a reality for retailers. Not only because there are 67 million Filipinos on the Internet, but also because over 50 percent of that number are actively doing business, purchasing on this platform,” Gopinath said responding to a question from the tech media.
According to a 2018 study conducted by Nielsen, the global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) e-commerce platform will reach over US$400 billion and will account for 10 to 20 percent market share.
GenieTech, a leading solutions provider, says that businesses too slow to adapt to the ever-changing digital world have a tough road ahead. With more consumers buying online through omnichannel facilities, using mobile devices and digital tools, the brand-to-customer experience has gone through a complete overhaul.
“Retail is not complicated but old strategies are failing to address customer problems. This due to the changing demands of the market. By taking advantage of omnichannel facilities, businesses can provide an even better experience to their customers,” Mahesh emphasized during the 1st Omnichannel Asia Summit Philippines 2019 held recently at the SMX Convention Center in Taguig City.
Mahesh also noted that omnichannel is about connecting the customer journey. From the stores to the apps, to the desktops, to the tablet, omnichannel solutions are proven technologies that provide a seamless customer experience. It connects multi-channel listing, POS, inventory management, and other solutions to consolidate customer data from all points of the buying process.
“Retailers are competing to provide the best customer experience. Omnichannel solutions are the way to provide customers with a seamless online and offline experience,” Mahesh added.
“Connecting the Customer Journey,” is the theme of the summit which gathered more businesses and professionals for a day of learning with retail and innovation industry experts to share their knowledge and expertise in logistics, supply chain, customer service, data-driven insights, and social media for a complete, hassle-free customer experience.
Among the resource persons from the tech and retail industries who graced the event include Grab Philippines Country Head Brian Cu, Facebook Philippines Head of Client Solutions Ash Mandhyan, Shopee Associate Director Martin Yu, and Lazada COO Carlos Barrera.
This is a content preview space you can use to get your audience interested in what you have to say so they can’t wait to learn and read more. Pull out the most interesting detail that appears on the page and write it here.
STRUCK with an arrow or not this Valentine, you have so much love to celebrate this Heart’s Day. Here’s a list of fun activities you can do to show the world that you’re #Single, #Happy and #Proud.
The streets of BGC have the most wonderful street art with colors that are sure to kick-start a bright day. Take a few snaps on your phone’s camera and seal the morning with a quick upload on Instagram. #MEGoals.
Netflix and chill, literally
Pop that soda can, heat that popcorn bag and get ready for a movie marathon ‘coz Netflix has got you covered. Put aside the weekday work vibes away and reward yourself with the finest flick treats on your phone’s mega screen.
It’s Manila Bay, not Manila BAE
Manila Bay is not only for couples doing HHWW. There are displays, street buskers, surrounding restos and so much more that you can enjoy by yourself. The famous tourist attraction is gaining much more popularity these recent weeks because of the revived campaign to rehabilitate the bay, making it a desirable BAE that's worth a visit. After a leisurely walk at Rizal Park, head straight to the Manila Bay for a truly enchanting view of the sunset. Capture the famed Manila sunset on your phone and share with friends and loved ones.
Add love to the cart
One of the greatest perks when you’re single is that you can focus your energy and resources on the things you love. Why not show some love to online shopping favorite Shopee? No need to feel guilty about giving in to your shopaholic desires because just like everybody else, you get to treat yourself this Valentine’s month.
What makes Shopee shopping experience even more exciting are promos from the smartphone game changer brand, Realme. Realme’s merchandize are up for grabs at discounted rates this February 18!
Get the official audio accessory of Realme, the Realme Buds, at a marked-down price of PHP249.00. Enjoy in-ear earphones with 11mm drivers that deliver 160 percent louder bass and redefined quality.
The Realme Bag, the official backpack of Realme, is up for grabs for just P999.00. The compact bag can safely store all your gadgets in its compartments. Its premium fabric adds to the stylish look and feel, making the bag the perfect item to complete your fashion ensemble.
If you’re on a budget but want to change your phone, you’re in luck! The critically acclaimed Realme C1, the #RealEntryLevelKing, is available at a marked-down price of P5,590.00.
The Realme C1 features software and hardware unmatched in its price point. Its mega screen, mega battery, dual cameras, and stylish and premium built got positive reviews from the media, critics and consumers. Both online and offline sales sold out, making the C1 a fitting launch pad for Realme Philippines.
Feb-ibig month just got spiced up, right? Cupid can keep his arrows ‘coz you can definitely own this holiday.
BUYING a pre-owned car rather than a brand-new one is a smart option when you want to save money. Selling your vehicle while it’s still in great running condition is a good way to recoup your investment or raise money to buy a new ride. But did you know that there is a good time to buy or sell a used car?
“We at OLX want to make sure that buyers’ needs are met by providing them with the best deals to get their money’s worth. Likewise, we also want to address sellers’ needs by being a platform that helps them sell to thousands of interested buyers,” says OLX Head of Cars Manuel Roman. “To further help OLXers, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips to guide them when they want to sell or buy a pre-loved car.”
Here are some things to keep in mind when buying and selling used cars:
WHEN SELLING: Age matters. It’s best to sell cars four to five years after using them. Vehicles, on average, lose 50 percent of their value in 5.10 years, according to an OLX Data Hub story. Mechanical issues and normal wear and tear are also more likely to occur after five years, especially if the car is used daily.
Mind the time of the year. A car’s depreciation value is computed based on the model year and mileage. When you wait for the New Year to sell your car, that car would age another year. Do note that the physical condition of the car also affects the used car’s value.
Know when the new model will come out in the market. Aside from age, having a new model of the same nameplate launched in the market affects the price of used cars. Buyers would most likely haggle for a lower price since the car being sold is considered an ‘old model.’ Follow international and local automotive websites to be in the loop about the latest car releases in the global and Philippine markets. Usually, new vehicles released in our neighboring Southeast Asian countries will make their way to our shores after a few months.
Identify your needs. A lifestyle change is also a good indicator that it’s time to sell your current ride. For one, when you are starting a family, you might need a larger vehicle with more safety features.
Parts availability and maintenance become problematic. Beyond the four- or five-year mark, car maintenance is more costly and hunting for available parts becomes more difficult. This is especially true for owners who use only one car daily.
WHEN BUYING: Know a bank’s car bonanza season. It’s a good idea to check with banks that go on car bonanza season, during which they sell their repossessed vehicles, those cars whose previous owners failed to pay the monthly amortization. A repossessed car purchase can save you around 20 percent to 40 percent off a brand-new car’s price.
Watch out for the last quarter deals. If you want to score great deals on used cars, you can opt to wait until the November or December – considered as the ‘bonus season’ or ‘Christmas gift season’ – to make their purchase. During this time, dealers prefer not to increase their prices because of the volume of business they expect would come their way. The last quarter of the year is also considered as a logical time to look for discounts in popular models because automaker and dealer sales incentives converge in this season.
Befriend your secondhand car dealer. Build relationships with your neighborhood secondhand dealer. That way, you’ll get first dibs when the dealer puts the car model you like on ‘fastbreak.’ Vehicles on ‘fastbreak’ do not stay in the dealer’s garage for long and are usually sold immediately, without having a very high markup.
Learn more about the nameplate and when its all-new model will be released. It is advisable to shop in the secondhand car market when a full model change for a car that you are eyeing is about to be introduced because the price for ‘older models’ is expected to drop.
Be on the lookout. Frequently visit www.olx.ph to have a chance to score great deals. Every month, about 45,000 car listings are posted on the platform.
OLX Philippines is part of the OLX Group, the world’s leading classifieds platform in growth markets. Having 17 brands worldwide, OLX Group is available in more than 40 countries, where its market-leading trading platforms are being used by more than 330 million people monthly.
Globe launches the country’s first self-install broadband postpaid service for as low as P1299 per month
Globe Telecom beefs up its home Internet portfolio by introducing yet another breakthrough. Globe At Home Air is the latest in wireless internet technology that is capable of higher speeds and higher data allocations. With speeds of up to 20Mbps, data capacity of up to 600GB, and free access to content, Globe At Home Air offers great value for money.
The new addition to the Globe At Home Postpaid portfolio introduces a fully DIY end-to-end experience for its customers. To apply for a Globe At Home Air subscription, you only need to drop by at the nearest participating Globe store with one (1) valid ID. You can then start filling out all required forms via the online digital form. Once application is approved and necessary fees are paid, you can already get your Globe At Home Air modem for easy self-setup at home on the same day. No appointments, no waiting for an installer!
Setting up the modem at home is a breeze - just plug in and connect! Plug in your modem and wait for the blue light to turn on. Once the blue light is on, you can connect to the WiFi by logging in with the designated WiFi Key. In just two easy steps, you can download videos faster, play more games, and stream all you want, whenever you want. Check out the video on how to set up your modem in a snap at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi-kxVEK3gQ.
“Globe At Home Air aims to elevate customer experience to a level that no one has ever seen before in home Broadband services,” says Martha Sazon, SVP and Head of Broadband Business at Globe Telecom. “Built with faster speed, higher data allocations, and a unique self-install process, this new technology makes Internet at home as reliable, accessible, and user-friendly as it can get.”
Globe At Home Air is available in select areas in Cavite and Bulacan. Plans are as low as P1299 for up to 5Mbps and 400GB, P1599 for up to 10Mbps, 500GB, and P1699 for up to 20Mbps and 600GB with six (6) months FREE subscription to DisneyLife, FOX+ and HOOQ. To avail a plan, you may visit participating stores at SM Dasmariñas, SM Rosario, SM Bacoor in Cavite, and SM Baliuag and SM Marilao in Bulacan. This new service from Globe At Home will be available in more areas soon. Learn more via this page: https://www.globe.com.ph/broadband/air.html.
Photo caption: Mr. Aleks Stefanovic, Integrated Marketing Manager of Panduit, receives the award during the ceremony held in Singapore
PHILIPPINE-based Panduit, the leading provider of network infrastructure solutions, recently bagged the Best Physical Network Cabling Award in the recent 2018 Readers' Choice Product Excellence Awards by NetworkWorld Asia.
Panduit is a leading-edge physical, electrical, and network infrastructure solutions provider for enterprise-wide environments, from the data center to the telecom room, from the desktop to the plant floor.
For four straight years, it has been recognized for providing enterprises and industries with the best physical transfer environment (cables, patch panels, connectors, etc.) upon which an organization’s network relies for internal and external communication.
The regional Award was held at the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.
The Readers' Choice Product Excellence Awards is an annual awards program that recognizes Asia’s top solution providers in IT infrastructure that have made the most impact on Asian end-user organizations in 2018.
Winners were selected based on vendor reputation, acceptance of the technology, and user feedback on the solution.
“Panduit is proud to be recognized by the readers of NetworkWorld Asia for the impact within the networking infrastructure business,” said Thomas Poh, Director, Asia Pacific Marketing for Panduit Asia Pacific. “We’re honoured that the readers of NetworkWorld Asia recognize the value of this solution to their businesses.”
Since 1955, Panduit’s culture of curiosity and passion for problem solving have enabled more meaningful connections between companies’ business goals and their marketplace success. Headquartered in Tinley Park, IL, USA and operating in 112 global locations, it has built for itself a powerful reputation for quality and technology leadership, coupled with a robust partner ecosystem, help support, sustain, and empower business growth in a connected world.
For more information, visit www.panduit.com.
SMARTPHONES are more intelligent than some people I know. Not only do they think better, they also perform tasks without delay. Thus relationships between device and person is very emotional. I think this is why most people sleep with their gadgets.
As 2019 came in I was assigned to see what will evolve in smartphones. So I went around asking experts about what to expect. It seems that every few months some new technology takes over. The processor, battery, a bigger screen, a thinner profile, and the like are where the tech trends will come from. What will likely define smartphones in 2019?
I ask our friends from Argomall.com again to validate the trends with their more professional insights. I keep going back to the experts there because all I need to do is to chat with someone online to get the trends I listed below.
All the forecasts and validations made here are by Karel Holub, chief Argonaut of the shopping site Argomall. He shares his predictions based on his over 20-year experience in the industry.
Established in November 2015, argomall.com was born out of a creative dream of the Transnational Diversified Group. This creative dream was to deliver trustworthy and efficient solutions to the discerning Filipino tech shopper. Let's break down the chief Argonauts predictions:
SCREENING COMMITTEE. This is what I believe is the biggest pull. Screens have gone from being too large and hard to grasp to just right but really sharp and bright. Our Argonaut seers are predicting that more smartphone brands following what Chinese smartphone manufacturers Oppo and Vivo did—to go with simple, bezel-less, and a real all-screen display.
FOLD AND DOUBLE. The all-screen display also gives credence to the prediction for foldable screens, in addition to the already existing dual display technology. This also means more smartphones will carry face unlock technology and in-display fingerprint unlocking.
CONNECTING AND CONNECTIONS. Data transfers and fast-charging technology mean more robust USB-C ports instead of the flimsy micro-USB slot. Improvements in Bluetooth will also improve data transfers and streaming. Apple disrupted listening with the iPhone 7, and wireless listening will render 3.5mm jacks extinct. Already the Xiaomi Mi Pro 8 has gone this direction.
STRONG AND SECURE. Holub believes that Asian smartphone brands will also remain to be the top tech purveyors. He predicts that Chinese tech firms will bring more powerful chipsets to the market. However, with even more players entering the competition to remove chipset dependence on Qualcomm, expect even faster processors sold at lower price points. Heightened security is also seen to reach consumers since 5G rollout is slated to commence late this year. The chief Argonaut does not think this will not yet be a main consideration for purchase.
STAMINA REQUIRED. Bigger screens, more powerful processors and updated wireless connection means more power use. All this needs bigger battery capacity. The prediction is more larger capacity yet thinner batteries to provide the stamina to run more efficiently. It is also predicted that fast charging technology will become mainstream this year.
MORE MEMORY. For the high-end smartphone department, it is very likely that 10GB will be the new standard for internal RAM and 2019’s smartphones will run on 12GB or more memory. Entry-level and low-end smartphones, on the other hand, are most likely to carry 3GB of RAM out of the box, from the usual 2GB of RAM.
PRICE WISE. The battle for the top spot in the smartphone department will benefit consumers even more, since this will mean that more brands are compelled to bring devices that are competitive despite an affordable price. With this, upcoming smartphones tagged at sub P10,000 are expected to carry an onboard storage of up to 128GB and even more.
CAMERA OR PHONE? With smartphone cameras clicking essential breakthroughs every year, Argomall expects 2019 to be another year for camera-centric devices, but this time with cameras so powerful that the phone function almost disappears. The prediction? More smartphones may carry more than five cameras around second half of 2019.
WEARABLES. Wearables, particularly smartwatches, initially introduced for fitness functions, are expected to deliver more, making them extensions of your smartphone. Argonauts are looking forward to see more smartwatches that allow answering calls, quick message and email replies, and basically every simple thing that can be done using smartphones.
CONSUMER-FOCUS. Smartphones need smart people. As e-commerce is becoming a widely-used means of purchasing goods, consumers need a trustworthy go-to online store. Now this is my prediction-—smart consumers read reviews and tap customer services and will depend on chatbots that lead to human interaction whenever possible. With a strong value for consumer trust and authenticity, Argomall is the online shopping hub that sells only authentic smartphones directly from brand manufacturers and official distributors. All products bought from the online store always come with an official Philippine warranty, invoice, and receipt.
The shortened version of this article originally appeared in Malaya Business Insight. Click here for link.
After the Xioami media Christmas lunch, Techsauceph sat down for a few minutes with John Chen, Xiaomi director for Southeast Asia.
Here is the full interview. The shortened version appeared in Malaya Business Insight.
STRATEGIC in its approach to fully utilize online channels for selling their products, Xiaomi has successfully retained the number one spot for top selling mobile phone brand on the two largest online shopping platforms in the country, Lazada and Shopee.
Techsauceph spoke to Xiaomi's big boss for Southeast Asia after the successful media Christmas party it held in Makati. We asked how this strategy of online first impacts on the brand and its market.
Techsauceph: It is amazing how Xioami has, in the over 60 countries it is in right now, been number one in online sales. Why is this so?
John Chen: This has been our strategy right from the start. Currently we are a bestseller if not number one not only in 60 countries but in over 70 countries where the brand present in. We had focused on online e-commerce shops as the primary channel to sell our products right from the start.
TSPH: Xiaomi is an accepted global technology leader in smartphones and other products including electric scooters, health and lifestyle smart devices. Was this the way the company was built? Not just smart phones?
JC: Our founders wanted a technology company. So it started with smartphones. But it was clear from the start to be a technology provider--to make our customers healthier, have more convenience or mobility.
This is a very millennial thing. We realized that our products can compete strongly if we prove our quality by being very confident to sell the millennials. They (the millennials) are our biggest market in all countries that we are in, and in every way, this means that we have built a strong trust with this market.
He illustrates the example of Xiaomi sales in India, Singapore and Taiwan— huge markets that are even more finicky than its home market, China. In China the brand became successful not based on a low pricing tactic but by confidently building the brand.
TSPH: Where else do you enjoy this rock star status as a non-Apple or non-Samsung brand?
JC: In many countries where we started to sell we looked immediately not at becoming the lowest price phone but the best value phone.
In Taiwan we official launched Xiaomi Base four months ago. The showroom and store is full of Xiaomi products including smart home devices. People can walk into the Xiaomi Base and experience the innovative devices.
India is a different market that is more of an online market. They read a lot of reviews and usually when a new phone is launched people wait for the reviews of their trusted bloggers. We succeeded there because our technology always satisfied the reviewers and eventually the customers.
Do you know that within 2 minutes of starting to sell the Xiaomi M3 it was sold our in opening day in Singapore? Yes it was. The market became so excited it was a big anticipation. Its more than a marketing gimmick. People really expected so much from that phone and they were not disappointed.
In China we lead in many aspects--design, battery power, processor, screen resolution. But that is our home market.
He then explained that this best value comes from the very philosophy of Xiaomi in developing its products which is to provide high end phones at an acceptable price.
TSPH: So pricing is not your game.
JC: Acceptable price does not always mean the cheapest. It can also mean having the highest amount of features of specifications at a certain price level. We apply this on all we do to ensure that all products we make—not only smartphones—follow this product development.
The difference between Xiaomi and other smartphone makers in China is that in its DNA is the desire to come out with quality at the first time.
Unlike some brands that use the market for testing our products in a process called “roll-out testing” Xiaomi ensures that every product they develop is tested to meet the requirements of their market before it is released.
He points out that though Chinese made products are all catching up with global quality requirements, Chen said that Xiaomi’s design philosophy and innovative marketing efforts “puts us ahead of the rest.”
TSPH: What was your feel or pulse of the Philippine market when you launched here?
JC: We expected to have a good performance because we worked very hard to make sure that we satisfy beyond what the Filipino customers expects. In fact many buyers are surprised by the actual performance and reliability of our devices, and the fact that despite online selling mostly we have many service centers in the country to help them in case they need some servicing,
Chen annonuced during his speech at the media get together that currently along with the e-commerce selling strategy the brand has what they call “Mi Authorized Stores” that are found in SM North EDSA, Megamall and MoA, as well as Trinoma, Gateway Cubao and Starmall Alabang.
TSPH: How do you feel about your recent sales actions which you mentioned in your speech?
JC: We are very happy that many Filipinos trusted us at both the 11.11 and 12.12 sales events. We have worked together with Lazada and Shopee to offer Xiaomi’s amazing products at honest pricing to the Philippines. As we head into a new year, we reinforce our commitment to bring more of our latest technologies to the country and make them accessible to more Filipinos nationwide.
TSPH: What do you have for us in 2019?
JC: Many, many surprises in terms of smartphones and other technology gadgets. Just wait for it.
TSPH: Thank you John for your time and congratulations on all your successes.
JC: Thank you for being with us and thanks for all the support!
Currently Xiaomi products are available on Lazada, Shopee, and Mi Authorized Stores nationwide. New products will be available in the Philippines before the year ends.
ROOKIES have a brilliance even the veterans and experienced look up to. I am rookie in online shopping because I am the type who would rather go to a brick-and-mortar store to smell and feel the merchandise. I decided to try online shopping only because it frees me from the burden of taking public commute, getting stuck in traffic and the long queues at the cash register.
So here are my expert e-shopping tips from a rookie who kept asking the right questions. And I asked the most reputable gadget and accessories online shop Argomall to validate my theories.
1. It’s not just about the price. Oftentimes buying online offers only a small amount of difference between buying it with a mouse and going to the store the examine the products. If you see a massive, almost unbelievable price gap, between brand and middleman, drop that product. I guarantee you it won’t be worth your hard-earned money. Argomall shopping experts add their lesson to that observation. They encourage you to make a careful study of what is on the block.
“Before you put that discounted item in your shopping cart, scrutinize if the amount of discount is real and more importantly if it is worth it. An online store may offer a huge discount on a smartphone but will ask you to pay for a hefty shipping price,” says Argomall.
2. Make sure it is genuine. Sadly, even on the biggest shopping website, a lot of replica or replacement items are for sale. Oftentimes mislabeled or misrepresented as the real thing using either as a photo with no description of what the product really is. And even if it does say a “Class A” product, like shoes or even smartphones and other gadgets it is still fake.
“Free yourself from worries of getting a fake product by buying items from authentic websites. If you’re looking for electronic gadgets the best place online to look for the best deals is an online hub that sells authentic smartphones from brand manufacturers and official distributors. An important note to take of regarding authenticity is the products should also come in sealed boxes together with warranty, online invoice and official receipt,” Argomall recommends.
3. Extending your wallet. I personally have no credit card so it was convenient to find out other payment options. If a site offers cash-on-delivery (my personal choice) or cash payment via bank or another payment facility then as a credit card-less rookie, I consider it good. But if a site offers a financing plan like Home Credit then I think it is great.
I’ve experienced Home Credit to purchase an Android tablet at an appliance store. The rates and payment schemes were flexible but most important, the interest rates—though too far from a credit card were lower in even through a longer spread of payment. That is definitely better than the evil, usurious credit card.
4. The more payment options, the better. There was a time when my kids, after buying something online could only pay through one option—a tedious bank deposit. It was a hassle and highway robbery because everything had a “processing fee.” Not all online sites that provide enough payment options. Loook for those who offer COD, online banking, credit cards, PayPal, G-Cash, Home Credit, Dragon Pay and many others. However, not too many online stores offer the same price regardless of the payment option so avail of that bonus convenience.
5. Delivery must be hassle-free. All e-commerce sites offer delivery service. I only experienced one that gives free delivery on all the items they have for sale. Caveat! In some sites the shipping fee is higher than the price of the item purchased. So be careful when you check out. Also some non-commercial (meaning no websites or apps) online purchasers demand for a meet-up or a pick-up. Why do that when you can have purchases delivered right to your doorstep?
6. Returning the goods with a smile. According to Argomall shoppers, the single, most important reason they buy from the online shop is its return policy. It is important to look for an online shop that values their customers by giving them easy return policies. This is important since you have no control of your purchase until it gets to your doorstep.
7. Look for value not a discount. Here is a practical lesson that applies online or offline. Sometimes a discount is worthless is you are getting old inventory or slightly damaged merchandise. Instead of always looking for a discount, find a bundle instead. Like free earphones or powerbanks. Find out from the e-commerce site what are the specifications or even brand of the bundled accessory so you can have an assurance that you are getting a really good deal.
8. Buy from a reputable online shop with great customer service ratings. This is what separates a great shopping site from just a large shopping site. Like buying from a mall versus an outlet store. A bad interface or the lack of a service can ruin a deal. Look for a site where you can inquire about colors, or sizes or availability. The holidays are hassle enough. Is it not nice to go into an online store that has a friendly staff, or maybe a chatbot that can answer your queries in real-time? Since I have tested Argomall’s customer service already, they come as highly recommended. Though currently only limited to gadgets and electronic accessories, they have proven that a sale can be closed with the warmth of a human “touch” even if it is only through a chat window.
9. Save time by easily searching your desired gadget within your budget. I recently purchased a laptop for my daughter using Argomall. All she gave me was a list of the things she should be able to do on it—video editing, graphics, the usual school work. It has to run on Windows and have enough battery life for a day. All I did was to send off these specifications to Argomall’s chatbot (first virtual, then human) and I was given a selection of three laptops to compare. I then matched the model to fit into my budget.
A great shopping site must have a search engine that can filter for a specific brand, budget range, color, screen size, memory, etc. Argomall has a compare button to help you make a wise decision. Also be wise enough to search across the web if the price offered by the online shopping site you’re looking into offers product prices that are same as suggested retail price.
10. Do not be swayed by a gigantic sale. Enough said.
CUSTOMER service is the key to good business anywhere.
“But great customer service, that is what really makes a difference,” Karel Holub Argomall’s chief argonaut said in an intimate pow-wow with selected journalists recently.
Despite creating and running a chatbot that won the company a critical accolade recently, the company’s head is now, practically admitting that the e-commerce and tech company he handles keeps things conservative and traditional when it comes to customer service.
“Technology can do everything, I believe. Except to truly interact in the same way as humans do. Many times our customer service has been put to the test by customers, and in each time, we passed because we moved from chatbot to human,” Holub explained.
Karel is clearly different kind of tech company leader. After listening to his simple presentation about Argomall, it is clear that he believes that behind all that tech are people, something many start-ups, and tech companies I have heard seemed to have brushed aside. Many techstarts believe human intervention increases the error-rate and slows down the system.
Not for Karel.
“When we build the brand, what we build behind it are people. It is in the interest of our customer that we give them the option. To transact the business fully automated. Or to go through a human channel which is a much more rewarding experience,” Holub said.
Though a business meeting, Holub did not reveal hard facts and figures. He talked in percentages with no reference of where, but did say the company more than doubled its size since its inception 3 years ago.
He goes back to the discussion of automation and customer service.
In 2016, The Argomall chatbot won an award for best chatbot given by Sumo, a US-based hosting service and Chatfuel. This “Argobot” allows users access to a streamlined sales process that lets them place orders without leaving the website. It also enhances the live chat support experience by allowing users to ask questions at any point during the ordering process—yes, on a website.
The reason why I highlight the word website is because in this world of apps, those little obtrusive icons on our mobile screens, Argomall chooses to work on a website. Even for smartphones and tablets.
And it does this for a simple reason.
“An app simply replicates the website. It interfaces with it effectively its own browser of the browser,” Holub argues. And though I don’t understand the technicalities of it, I do know that if you make a shortcut icon for a particular website of the phone, you practically have an app.
Shopping websites like Lazada or Shoppee push the user to go into an its own interface with additional perks “if you use the app” because I found out, the phone app allows for other things like tracking, monitoring and sending out notifications, something that a browser can control better. I realized then that that extra layer of “convenience” is actually a layer of control.
Will Argomall eventually find its way into an app?
“We’ve always had that in our plan, but as I mentioned an app is not the only way to connect to our customers. Currently those who use our service are happy with the website interface. So we will leave it like this for a while,” Holub commented.
“But what if your customers demand for it?” I questioned.
“When customers demand for an app, then we need to create one that should be beyond their expectations. One that will keep the level of customer service we have strived for in the last three years. That app must show that are giving them the utmost shopping convenience and unmatched service,” he replied.
Practically admitting that there is no real technological solution to good old human interaction, Karel closes the session by again skirting a question about factual data and said that the company is please with its our continued growth after the 3rd quarter of 2018 and going into the shopping months. He also said Argomall is aiming for even bigger market share in 2019.
Challenged by this focus on customer service, I tried out Argomall by using their chatbot. Not being a hardcore online shopper, still preferring to peruse through the aisles and touch the merchandise, I have tried (with the help of my kids) to do Metrodeal, Zalora and Lazada.
Upon connecting to the website, I was first routed by an automaton, through a series of questions much like on a phone call to a self-serve operator. But when I popped in the question “I want something that you don’t have” I get a living being on the other side trying to politely explain at first, what they have and what they don’t have, then offered alternatives.
To complicate matters for Argomall, I send out links from Lazada products I was interested in. Since I was in possession of a coupon of no insignificant amount, I explained that I had to consume it on Argomall, but they did not have what I want.
Instead of shooing me away, another polite explanation was made but I was adamant.
Guess what? The person said my concern would be elevated to someone who can make a decision on the request and I would be contacted through the information I had sent in (with my consent, of course) and my request would be acted upon.
To be granted the request or not, I am not sure. But what I am sure of is I left the chat satisfied that Karel’s team lived up to my expectations.
Good work Argonauts!
Argomall will go the distance to make customers feel they areking, but they will also educate them into knowing what they really want, not what they think they want.