Entrepreneur Steve Sy, one of the top online merchants in the Philippines, received a record 114,165 orders on Nov. 11 or Singles Day, which is widely considered the biggest electronic commerce sales event around the world.
The 44-year-old founder and chief executive of Quezon City-based Great Deals E-Commerce Corp. says the figure represents the number of orders handled by his company on behalf of more than 100 clients and brands on Nov. 11 through e-commerce platforms Lazada, Shopee and Zalora.
“On 11-11, we received 114,165 orders in one day,” says Sy, whose company manages the online sales of various brands such as Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Reckitt Benckiser (Lysol), L’Oreal, Shell, Maybelline, Max Factor, CLN, Reebok, Enfagrow, P&G, Anker, Zoo York, Vans, Anlene, Levi’s, Lee, Jag, Tribal, Pacsafe and Mango.
Great Deals E-Commerce Corp. provides end-to-end e-commerce solutions to local and foreign companies. “We take care of the e-commerce of our clients. They just leave the products to us, and we take care of everything―from the initial photo shoot until the last-mile delivery,” says Sy.
“We are one of the top merchants in Lazada and Shoppe because we have a lot of brands that we carry,” he says. “If you add Shopee and Lazada, that is already 90 percent of the e-commerce market.”
His company takes care of content production, online shop operations and management, pricing, digital campaign, analytics and business intelligence, warehousing, packing, inventory system, delivery returns and cancellation process.
“We are more than an IT company. We offer end-to-end solutions. The only things we do not offer are the platforms which are managed by Lazada and Shopee and the logistics which are managed by LBC or 2Go. We partner with logistics companies and online platforms to complete the ecosystem of e-commerce,” he says.
“We are the only local company that is doing this. All our competitors are multinationals,” says Sy.
“Lazada right now has 75 million SKUs [stock keeping units],” he says, adding that the figure is bigger than what can be found in a large shopping mall.
Great Deals E-Commerce alone has more than 50,000 SKUs available online. It also has a database of 1 million customers. It has also grown from a five-man team a few years ago into a company employing over a hundred young professionals who get incentives such as vacation overseas.
“Right, now we have more than 100 people already, including 30 graphic artists,” he says. The workforce temporarily swells to as many as 400 during big sales events.
“We also have an automated e-commerce warehouse management system. We are integrated with Lazada, Zalora, Shoppe. We have a synchronized inventory,” he says.
His company operates 7,700 square meters of warehouses in Quezon City and Marilao, Bulacan.
Sy, who graduated from De La Salle University with a degree in Business Management, used to have brick-and-mortar stores selling mobile phone accessories in Makati City. The entry of Lazada, however, changed his view on retail and his business model.
“I started to sell online in August 2014 with my own brand of power banks. I used to sell cellphone accessories offline at Greenbelt and Glorietta. I closed them already. Now, 100 percent of my business is online,” he says.
“When Lazada established a marketplace, I joined in 2014 thinking that I would sell my extra stocks through the platform. But 11-11 of 2014 came, and I was shocked because the whole stock of powerbanks in my warehouse was gone in a day. It was then that I realized that e-commerce is really something different,” he says.
“In 2015, I started bringing in more brands online. I started with virgin coconut oil from a friend I met at a bazaar, and it sold well. In the latter part of 2016, one multinational company, Reckitt Benckiser, was looking for distributor, so I met with them. In five months, Lysol [a product of Reckit Benckiser] became the number one home-care brand online with a significant increase in sales. They ran out of stock in their warehouse,” he says.
Another client of Sy, New York Sneakers was awarded Online Revolution King of Fashion by Lazada in 2016. “Its online sales were bigger than those of Bench, Penshoppe or even SM Stores,” he says.
“When Alibaba bought Lazada in 2016, I made a conscious decision to close all my offline shops and concentrate online. I said this is gonna grow leaps and bounds so I put all my resources to concentrate online,” he says.
Another client, Maybelline, became the number one health and beauty brand online in 2017. More companies soon joined Sy’s client list. “One by one, the brands came in,” he says.
“I have never imagined this. We just kept growing and growing. Year-on-year, we are growing more than 100 percent in revenues. Right now, we have more than 1 million customers in our database,” he says.
“Last year, we had 15,000 orders on 12-12 [Dec. 12]. In April, Lazada had birthday sales. So we prepared for 15,000, but we received 43,000 orders. Even the platforms were shocked of the volume that came in. This 11-11, we prepared for 100,000 orders, but 114,000 orders came. This was the largest ever. Definitely, the orders will be bigger on 12.12 this year because of the Christmas season,” he says.
“The beauty of our industry is that it is still very, very young. We are expecting to double our revenues next year. The industry is so young and it is gonna grow more,” he says.
Sy won the StartCon Pitch for $1 Million event in Manila on Oct. 26 and will represent the Philippines in the regional competition on Nov. 30 at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, Australia. The winner will receive $1 million in fresh investment.
StartCon is Australia’s largest startup and growth conference owned by Freelancer.com. It is Asia Pacific’s largest startup pitch competition, with hundreds of startups competing across 15 cities in seven countries for the chance to win $1 million from Australian venture capital firm Right Click Capital.
Sy says winning $1 million would help his company scale up and expand to other countries. “We are looking for strategic partners globally so that we will have a good global presence,” he says.
Sy says he plans to raise a total of $5 million to acquire and develop technologies related to data analytics and artificial intelligence.
“We have a positive cashflow, but we are raising money for expansion. We are raising $5 million. The $1 million is just a part of that,” he says. “One of the investment plan is to have a big data analytics system. That’s why we are raising capital. We will use our data on 1 million customers to develop analytics and insights and have a better business.”
“For me, it is an honor and responsibility to represent the Philippines. If you could see me four years ago, I was just a simple merchant. But because of the e-commerce industry, we were able to grow our company. Now we are ready to go global. We would like to inspire the Filipinos,” says Sy.
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