MANILA -- Lazada is deploying both artificial intelligence and pop stars so that customers are engaged and entertained enough to keep shopping on their smartphones and laptops, an official of the online marketplace said Thursday.
Machine learning technology from parent Alibaba is working incognito as the refreshed app, which now has a heart-shaped logo, curates selections for every user, said chief marketing officer Jason Huan.
"What's very obvious to us is the app. Every person in the Philippines has a different interface when they log on," Huan told ABS-CBN News.
"In ways we want to interact with the customer, we want to be non-intrusive. We want to allow you to discover things yourself," he said.
Lazada is mounting a one-day mid-year sale on July 12 across its 6 Southeast Asian markets to launch the rebrand. The platform is used by half of the number of Filipinos with internet access, Huan said.
The platform's "shoppertainment" push includes concerts and an in-app game show called "Guess It." A recent show in Indonesia featured international pop singer Dua Lipa while a forthcoming show in the Philippines will be headlined by TV and music stars James Reid and Nadine Lustre.
"A good halo effect of having these ambassadors is people go to our website and download our app," he said.
Customization through AI and tapping influencers makes Lazada "not just a transactional platform," he said. "It's one that engages and one that's with you every step of the way."
Lazada is rebranding as rival platforms such as Shoppee steadily builds its presence in the Philippines, competing both in sale events and celebrity endorsers. Local competition is "not as cutthroat" compared to other countries in the region, Huan said.
Huan said Lazada's competition "is one that is breaking ground or making more noise in the market."
Baby diapers and milk formula are still the top sellers, as mothers seek ways to grocery shop while avoiding traffic jams.
An emerging category is digital goods such as credits for mobile games and app stores like Google Play, Huan said.
Huan paused when asked what can't be bought on the platform, later responding: "Houses, that's one. Helicopters, planes, super high-value items."