Local buy-and-sell netrepreneur partners with global brand

Joy Angelica Subido, Joy Angelica Subido, Karla Alindahao (The Philippine Star) - March 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Buy-and-sell websites are continuing to get even more traffic as an increasing number of people are able to discover the advantages of online shopping. The Internet is a good venue for comparing and gauging the best price for items or services, after all. It is where shoppers can peruse items at their leisure, and shop whenever it’s convenient. Without the pressure of overeager salespersons breathing down their necks, it is where shoppers can focus on what they really need to buy.  Moreover, the temptation of in-store displays that are conducive to impulse buying is minimized, and perhaps online shoppers can give in to their secret indulgences without having to feel embarrassed by the physical presence of other shoppers or salespeople around them. Certainly, in an increasingly Internet-dependent world such as ours, public interest in online buy-and-sell websites is expected.

But think online classifieds in the Philippines and what will readily come to mind is Sulit.com.ph. As the country’s most popular buy-and-sell website, numerous users have found it to be a useful facility for buying, selling, renting goods and property, or to search for service providers. Since it was initiated in January 2006, the company has grown to become the leading buy-and-sell website in the country.

Most recently, however, it was announced that Sulit.com.ph is now OLX.ph. The rebranding is a result of a partnership with OLX, an international website company that hosts free user-generated classified advertisements. OLX (which stands for Online Exchange) is currently available in more than 100 countries like India, Brazil and Portugal, and is being used in more than 40 languages.

“Sulit has now become the local arm of the biggest global brand in classifieds,” explained Sulit.com cofounder and managing director RJ David recently at an event to announce the new partnership. “We now represent OLX here in the Philippines. We changed our name to bring our clients’ attention to this latest positive development. Now that we are OLX.ph, they should expect some improvements in the service that we provide.”

The partnership will be beneficial because it will provide training and learning opportunities with OLX partners from around the globe. Says RJ, “While on the technical and marketing side of the business, we are at par or even ahead of the other partners, it benefits us to learn more about customer support.”

He reveals that a new, more responsive site will be released in April, and the OLX.ph customer support team is being expanded to be able to attend to clients’ concerns 24/7. “We scrutinize ads posted under the buy-and-sell category even more carefully before they become live in OLX. This is to ensure that quality ads are being displayed and items can move faster.”

David elaborates further, “We are now putting more emphasis on location. Classifieds are all about local people selling their items, with other people in their area as their ideal target market.” He explains that when a vendor posts an item on OLX, the information will immediately be available to users who are looking for that kind of item within the same locale. He also encourages consumers to sell possessions they no longer need or use. “Instead of just letting unused items gather dust and take up space in your home, it might be a good idea to post these items on OLX and earn money from them. Lying idle in your home, these possessions are ‘untapped wealth,’ because someone might actually pay good money for them. OLX.ph is now the Philippines’ simplest, fastest and easiest platform for selling your secondhand items.”

Attentive to the fact that most Filipinos are almost obsessively attached to their mobile phones, people can simply take photos of items for using their camera phone and immediately post it on OLX using their Android phones. The feature will be available with the IOS setup soon. “Our site is going responsive, whether you are using a mobile phone, a tablet, a desktop computer or even your TV. It will automatically respond to the size of your screen to give you the same experience in any device.”

The fact that Sulit.com was recognized and chosen by OLX as its local partner is an indication of how far the company has gone. “Our business started out as a small experiment in September of 2006,” shares RJ, who graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of the Philippines. “Our office was at the upper floor of the garage in my mom’s Angono home. I was in charge of the technology side of the business, while my wife Arianne was the web designer. We started from scratch and we learned from experience. We don’t stop in trying to improve our processes.”

Is there room for new players who want to venture into similar online sites? “Of course,” says company cofounder Arianne David. “It is a very big market and one does not require a huge capital to start with. RJ and I started, in fact, with P2,400. One reason for our success is that we created our system and continuously worked hard at making it better.” 

While Sulit.com, now OLX.ph, is a free classified buy-and-sell online site, significant earnings come from advertisements. Of course, it goes without saying that in the interconnected world in which we live, the currency that comes with an impressive network of connections is both priceless and immeasurable.

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