New online marketplace opens for small, big entrepreneursBy Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Combine the compelling features of popular websites Amazon, eBay, Multiply, Craig’s List, as well as the good-old Yellow Pages, in one site and what you will get is www.pldtathome.com.
That is the hope of telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., which soft-launched the site last May 22 to give its subscribers—particularly those who are engaged in business—another reason to stay loyal with the company and not switch to a rival firm that offers similar services such as a landline or broadband connection.
According to PLDT Vice President Patrick S. Tang, the website was developed to become a one-stop online shop for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business by tapping into PLDT’s subscriber base of over one million, which provides a huge and ready market for their products and services.
Through the website, Tang said subscribers would be able to post alerts on any sales and promotions, plus they can have their company names and contact details listed on the online directory to build recall.
Entrepreneurs connected to PLDT will also be provided with a free website linked to the main site where they can display product shots, post marketing messages and solicit customer feedback to coax revenue growth.
Tang said it took about a year to put up the site because PLDT had to first perfect the payment system to pave the way for online buying and selling transactions.
He said the idea for www.pldtathome.com was hatched following the success of the TelPad, a tablet landline service that is claimed to be the first in the world.
“The TelPad was a wake-up call because it showed us that everybody is going online to access information,” said Tang.
He added that while online shopping is still in its infancy in the Philippines, there is great potential for growth and PLDT wants to be in position so that it can ride on the imminent surge in transactions.
It also wants the entrepreneurs—mainly small and medium-sized enterprises—to ride the wave along with it by encouraging them to put their businesses online through the website.
“Right now we are encouraging merchants to try e-commerce and we are educating them that they need to be online to be able to improve their business, like for simple needs such as awareness building and advertising,” said Tang.
Tang said that with 800,000 DSL and 400,000 Smart Bro home broadband installations, the PLDT subscriber base alone is big enough and mature enough to help entrepreneurs.
He said that PLDT is specifically targeting the microbusinesses—defined as businesses, usually operating from home, with less than 10 employees—because they constitute a huge untapped market that is already contributing significantly to economic growth.
Citing figures from the Department of Trade and Industry, Tang said that these microbusinesses generated 30.4 percent of total jobs in the country in 2009 and they account for 91.4 percent of total business entities in the country.
“We believe that the microbusiness sector is an untapped gold mine,” said Tang.
And through tools and services such as www.pldtathome.com, PLDT hopes to help these small firms reach their full potential.
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