Wired! Philippines All about Internet in the Philippines

SMB Launches E-Commerce Site

Reprinted from Site of the Times, Volume 1, No. 6, October 1998


The main worry of Internet commerce proponents, which is the implementation of online payment transactions, is a loophole that may now be considered closed. San Miguel Beer Online (http://draft.sanmiguelbeer.com), a local e-commerce web site, now accepts electronic payments.

The pioneering efforts to implement and popularize a total e-commerce solution in the Philippines involved a group of the country's most active proponents of electronic commerce: World Port, IBM, San Miguel Corporation, Equitable Card Network with the support of Intelligent Wave Phils., and Infocom Technologies Incorporated, working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the E- Commerce Promotion Council of the Philippines (ECPC).

Resistance to new technologies, as well as various legal and financial concerns, used to impede the full development of e-commerce projects in the country.

While securing the payment process, the BeerOnline web site also hopes to demystify online transactions for consumers by providing a ready avenue for credit card payments through the Internet. Local consumers with international credit cards can now purchase San Miguel Beer party kegs conveniently.

Through the initiatives of the DTI and the ECPC, World Port, an e-business consulting firm, developed the San Miguel Draft Beer Online site using the secure software Net.Commerce solution and Lotus Notes by IBM.

The pilot project was also made possible by the agreement of San Miguel Draft Beer to offer its products online, and the Equitable Card Network, which acts as the clearing-house for credit card payments.

While San Miguel Draft Beer hopes to reach more consumers through this new and more efficient distribution gateway, more than anything else, the San Miguel Draft Beer Online hopes to boost involvement of local industries in the global marketplace. Local infrastructure must take advantage of the power of the Internet to partake in the networked economy.

"The idea of San Miguel Beer Online is to bring e-commerce closer to Filipinos. We hope to spring the enthusiasm of companies, banks, legislators and consumers to prove to them that e-commerce is viable in the Philippines. We have so much potential in making it big in the electronic marketplace, but we cannot move on unless we start now," says Rogie Arellano, president of WorldPort.

There are still many issues facing local e-commerce transactions. Consumers are still wary of Internet security. Legislators are arguing about "fair" e-commercing laws. Banks are concerned about handling payments. Merchants are hesitant to take on the electronic adventure.

Nevertheless, this initiative shows that this kind of technology can work in the Philippines by using local components. An all-Filipino team developed the San Miguel Draft Beer Online site that leveraged on world-class technologies by IBM.

"There is always resistance to change but somebody has to bear the growing pains. Our team took on this challenge to jumpstart Filipino e-commerce activities. We all need to figure out how to push each other that extra mile, so do not be afraid to change the world!" says Albert Lopez, CEO of WorldPort.

Aside from enabling electronic purchases, the Beer Online site has other interesting features for the Internet user. The storefront incorporates a "Party Wizard" that can compute the amount of drinks by bottle, by case and by liter.

The site also has a party center that gives preparation tips to party buffs about food, games and even leftovers. The San Miguel Community allows partygoers to keep in touch with one another through a bulletin board and discussion fora.

Beer Online can also provide valuable information, unique product details and dynamic content made easily accessible through the Net. Most of all, San Miguel Beer can serve their consumers better by tracking customer needs and understanding their buying patterns.


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