By Tom Noda
Dominant carrier PLDT has announced a tie-up with mall operator SM and tech giant Samsung Electronics Philippines to boost the three-year-old e-commerce site ?Smart Pinoy Store,” which is dedicated to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Eric Alberto, PLDT EVP and head of enterprise, and international and carrier business led the partnership signing on Tuesday, June 3, at the Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati City. Also in attendance were PLDT Global president and CEO Alex Caeg, Samsung Electronics head of enterprise business Ireen Catane, and SM Global Pinoy program director Glenn Ang.
Launched in November of 2010, Smart Pinoy Store is aimed at broadening the portfolio of products and services that PLDT offers to OFW communities by allowing them to purchase call and text loads, pay utility bills, educational plans, and medical services, among others.
Alberto said the tie-up has expanded the Smart Pinoy Store offerings with Samsung giving discounted prices for its products such as appliances and gadgets.
SM Global Pinoy, meanwhile, will be selling gift certificates that can be used to purchase items from all SM retail stores and affiliates, which includes the giving away of 1,000 SM Global Pinoy Cards to OFW families that will allow cardholders to access SM Global Pinoy Centers nationwide, entitling them also to discounts in selected establishments in SM malls.
PLDT will carry Samsung’s domestic appliances and electronics product lines that will allow OFWs worldwide to pay directly online and have the items delivered anywhere in the Philippines.
Alberto said the re-launch of the one-stop online store is timely since there are now more OFWs, including their families, in the Philippines who are digitally savvy compared to its first launch more than three years ago.
“There are more Filipinos who are now online and many of our customers have made their digital purchases,” Alberto said. “With Samsung and SM, we hope to grow this ecosystem.”
Alberto said there is high potential for online shopping business especially for the OFW market, noting remittances sent by OFWs remains to be the biggest driver of the Philippine economy.
The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) recently reported that OFW remittances hit $2 billion last January.
Caeg said in the US alone, there are around 3.5 million documented OFWs and PLDT Global is now eyeing Filipino-American communities particularly in the West Coast with the support of its partner T-Mobile.
Caeg said Smart Pinoy Store last year generated $100,000 with purchases for electronic load, gift certificates, and bills payment topping the lists from dealers and retailers.
The online portal has also reportedly gained four million site hits in 2013, drawing traffic mostly from Australia and Asian destinations with strong Filipino communities like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia.