'No fakes' online shop readies augmented reality tech to lure shoppers

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2018 09:55 AM

Shoppers crowd a 'tiange' or clusters of small shops in Manila. Brick and mortar retail thrives in the Philippines even as online channels challenge their dominance. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/FILE PHOTO

MANILA - Adobomall, a homegrown e-commerce platform that shuns fakes, said it would soon employ augmented reality technology to lure more buyers online.

The 2-year-old company is seeking a patent for its app-based AR technology, which would differentiate Adobomall from established rivals like Lazada and Zalora, said its founder and CEO Walt Young.

"It’s going to be experiential. So long as you use our app, you can have a feel of the product you're buying," Young told ABS-CBN News.

"We can roll it out in certain locations and there will be great finds. There will be people going there because we would be giving out really limited items. If you want deals, you go to that," he said.

Adobomall has about 140,000 users and 2 million page views as of January this year. It has 300 merchants from just 9 when it started.

It offers products from Apple, Samsung, Under Armour and Kipling, as well as small local players as long as they are authorized stores. Young has a strict policy against fakes.

The Adobomall app interface is shown in this screenshot. ABS-CBN News

One example of AR technology that went mainstream is Nintendo's Pokemon Go. It sparked a worldwide craze in 2016 wherein millions of users walked around real-life locations hunting for pocket monsters that they see on their mobile phone screens.

Apple and Google both introduced AR in their newest iPhone and Pixel phones, allowing users to attach animations to pictures and video.

Samsung's flagship S9 line, which launched last month, also uses AR, allowing users to create emoji versions of themselves or simulate make-up colors on their faces.

"I’m really excited about AR. It’s an invention that I felt would really, really help out," Young said.

Young said there's huge potential in e-commerce in the Philippines, where only 0.5 percent of the country's 10 million people transact online.

Leading online marketplace Lazada estimates the online shopping market at around 10 million, its CEO Inanc Balci told ABS-CBN News in October.

 

Young said Adobomall's no-fakes policy is part of efforts to encourage more Filipinos to buy online.

"It’s common to see a lot of fakes in the grey market. Maraming hindi nagsho-shop online kasi hindi sila sigurado (Many don't shop online because they're unsure)," he said.

Adobomall shoppers fill up a virtual "bayong" instead of a shopping cart, to give the platform its unique Filipino feel, he said.

While "no one replaces physical," Young said technology can make shopping easier for those who want to use it and digital will "eat up" into the market of brick and mortar stores.

Young is also undaunted by the competition.

"If I have a dollar every time somebody discourages me and tells me 'do you understand who you’re going up against?’, I’d be very rich now," he said.

"But I don’t care. If you’re true to your vision, if it fails it fails, if it succeeds then thank you Lord," he said.