May 10, 2017

Lazada Philippines’ CEO and Co-Founder Inanc Balci

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  • Lazada Philippines’ CEO and Co-Founder Inanc Balci
  • Inanc Balci, Lazada Philippines’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

    Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Inanc Balci graduated with a double degree in Industrial Engineering and Economics from Prude University in United States. He was in the banking industry for three years in London before coming to the Philippines in 2012 where he co-founded the Philippines’ biggest online retailer, Lazada Philippines.

    How did Lazada begin?

    When I was in London, I met some German investors who want to start an e-commerce company in five countries in Southeast Asia, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. I accepted their proposal, and I came to Philippines to start Lazada. We started the company as a retail e-commerce company, which means that we used to buy from our suppliers and sell to our customers. We changed our business model in 2014 to a marketplace platform where merchants sell their goods directly to the customers using our platform – sort of like a shopping mall to reach out to as many customers as they can.

    How many partnered merchants do you currently have?

    We have thousands of active merchants in the Philippines that are using the Lazada platform to sell products to the customers.

    How many visits do you have on your website every day?

    We have more than 1 million daily average visitors on our website. In specific days it significantly increases; during our birthday sale, we had more than 10 million people visiting the website in 3 days. We’re also the 7th most visited website in the Philippines.

    Inanc Balci at the Lazada’s 5th Birthday Surprise Launch/IMAGE Primer Stock Photos

    How has Lazada fared in terms of competition with other companies in the same industry?

    There are two main challenges in the Philippines for e-commerce. The first is logistics. The country’s complex geography and the difference between traditional and e-commerce logistics make it very difficult to exist as an e-commerce company, especially if you are not doing your own logistics operations. This is why we launched Lazada express, our in-house delivery company that covers 75% of the Philippines and has put us one step ahead of our competition.

    We’re also proud of our Cash on Delivery network. The Philippines has only 3-4 percent credit card penetration, so being able to launch the first nationwide cash-on-delivery network in the Philippines gives us a competitive advantage compared to other companies in the Philippines.

    Being the leading e-commerce player in the country, what have you done to keep the business constantly growing and expanding?

    The first thing is assortment; we are constantly growing our assortment in the Philippines. Today we have 7 million products that you can buy on Lazada Philippines. We also have a growing number of brands that we offer in the website, which is now at 14,000.

    Doing big events like the Online Revolution and the 5th Birthday to increase awareness o f the e-commerce business in the Philippines helps us to reach out to potential customers. It is also gives an excuse for non-customers to try e-commerce for the first time.

    What have been consumers telling you about why they like purchasing from Lazada?

    I think people like purchasing in Lazada because it’s convenient for our customers. They don’t have to leave their house, brave the crazy traffic of Manila, and spend time, gas or energy walking around the mall only to find products in a limited selection.

    One of our mottos is to provide effortless shopping in the Philippines. We try to make it as frictionless as possible by giving them a good platform and an easy-to-use, no-registrations-needed platform in the website or from any device they use.

    Ensuring the quality of the products you sell is imperative. How do you keep this fundamental measure in your business to earn the trust of the consumers?

    When you have a big platform like Lazada, it becomes difficult to make sure that one hundred percent of the products are not defective. We have specific measures [in place] to make sure all 7 million products are up to our quality standards.
    We don’t allow non-registered business to sell on Lazada. We assure the customers that merchants in Lazada are registered businesses with permit from the BIR and ECC.

    If merchants are selling branded items, they need to prove that they are getting their items from authorized distributors. If the items are subject to FDA regulation, we would also require them to submit FDA permits. This is how we ensure our customers that the item that their buying from Lazada is one hundred percent genuine, brand new, and has passed our quality standards.

    What were the biggest challenges in establishing an e-commerce business in Philippines?

    The biggest challenges are logistics, payment landscape, and market-related challenges.

    For logistics, apart from launching Lazada Express, we work very closely with third party logistics companies. We create the process together and push them to improve their SLA (Service Level Agreement). We addressed the country’s payment landscape by introducing the nationwide cash-on-delivery system.

    To address market-related challenges, we provide big discounts from our merchants so that people try e-commerce. We also hold huge events during the year for people to be aware of Lazada and e-commerce.

    What are the benefits of doing business in the Philippines compared to other countries?

    The Philippines is a large economy with a large population that can understand English; this makes it easier to interact with potential customers.

    It’s also one of the fast growing economies in ASEAN and the world. Combined with a fast-growing number of people who use smart phones in the region and the growing internet penetration, these make any investments in the Philippines favourable. At the same time, there is a very strong government support to help us grow our business.

    Lazada.com.ph is one of the biggest online retail shops in the Philippines./IMAGE Lazada.com.ph

    What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs in the country?

    My advice probably would be that when you come up with an idea from another country, it is very important that you localize that idea when you execute it. For example, if you brought the e-commerce business model from the US, it would probably not work in the Philippines.

    It’s very important to localize the execution and come up with the business model that will work for the customers in the Philippines. We’ve localized a lot of things for our business, starting with the process on how to work with local merchants and local partners. We also had to tailor-made our business model for the Filipino customers with cash-on-delivery network, which doesn’t exist in most European countries.

    How does the investment of Jack Ma last year affect the operation of Lazada?

    It did not impact our operations but it affected the strategy and the way we think in our business. Alibaba has been doing this for a long time and they’ve gained enormous knowledge about how to perform best and how to optimize an e-commerce company.

    We have been learning from them and this has reflected in our strategy and the way we think about our business. The things we’ve learned will continue to have impact in our operations and to optimize our business model.

    What are your future endeavors here in the Philippines?

    We want the Philippines to be one of the top e-commerce countries in the world. We want to replicate the same success Facebook has had in the country when it comes e-commerce. We have a long way to go but we are very excited about this. Our aim is to not make Lazada the biggest; the aim is to make e-commerce in the Philippines very big, [and] we are working towards this with the help of other industry partners.

    How would you describe the way you manage Lazada?

    We have a lean management style. We have a very unique way of looking at problems in Lazada. We always try to get people who are good problem solvers. We hire people that are very quantitative and have a very strong ownership of business because we also see them as entrepreneurs.

    E-commerce is still in its early days and it requires a lot of entrepreneurial skills not only from us but from all levels of business. This is what we are promoting in Lazada. We give people responsibility based on merit. As people prove themselves, we give them more responsibilities. After that, they will go high up in the organizational chart.

    Who are the people you look up to as Lazada’s President and CEO?

    I look up to successful people in similar fields like Jack Ma and successful long-term leaders in similar companies like the founder of Intel – those people who provide sustainable long-term success.

    Describe your typical day at work.

    My typical day involves a lot of face-to-face interaction with employees. We have daily meetings where we discuss the problem areas. We also have continuous improvement every day on top of what we’ve been doing the day before.

    The customer is the most important aspect in Lazada. We listen to our customers every day and we spent a considerable amount of time looking at the customer commands to identify the problem areas in the company. Meetings with our partners, merchants and third party marketing partners also take a huge chunk of my day.

     

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    A portion of this article has first appeared in Philippine Primer Magazine May 2017 issue Volume 14 page 38.

    Recent Comments

    mr. Balci.. madalas po ako mag order ng items using my LaZaDa apps.. usually mga electronics ska gamit sa bahay. ska sa car ko… nung una ok naman sya.. nakakarating nmn sya ontime ska kumpleto nmn kht minsan pansin pagbukas ko nung package my gasgas na… pro matindi nung last na nag order ako kulang na ung item. nsa picture nyo kumpleto pro pag dating sa bahay kulang.. so mula nun d n tlga ako umorder sa Lazada.. kya sa mga customer p hanggang ngaun ng LAZADA kayo nlng po humusga…

    Anonymous
    2 weeks ago

    Dear DTI Philippines,

    Good day.
    We would like to formally complain Lazada Philippines for not refunding our money.
    Since June 2017 we make frequent follow up and their customer service’ answer is always the same that “they are already processing it” (we follow up via calls, CS chat online and thru social media FaceBook and Instagram).

    Our Bank says, ask the Credit Notice or Refund Notice but they do not provide it.
    They give us some reference number that the bank says is wrong.

    Why can’t they return our money?
    Hope you can help us on the matter, details are below.
    _______________________________________________________
    Order no: 349648767
    Date ordered: June 4, 2017
    Date refund notice: June 13,2017 (on scheduled delivery date)

    Lazada’s 1st feedback: 4-6 weeks processing of refund.
    Reality: until now…6mos. NO REFUND yet.
    Bank needs refund notice but lazada cannot provide.
    _______________________________________________________

    Thank you,

    4 weeks ago

    Dear Sir,
    I recently started buying from Lazada. I received two items from Lazada without a problem, but this last week I have had 3 disappointments. I received a broken scale, I received the wrong sheets today and worst of all I was assured by chat the day I ordered a wedding dress, a dress that was time sensitive, I would most definitely receive it by with two weeks time. This was told to me by customer service who said expedited service was not available for overseas products. Today I talked to customer service because it was still in processing. I asked why was it in processing for 9 days? They said they would investigate the matter and call the vendor then email me with their findings. The worst news I got was the chat agent saying the dress would not be delivered as promised in two weeks, but actually in one month from the time of order. I could have cancelled my order after talking to customer service right after ordering it. They promised me it in two weeks. I have both transcripts to prove it. The Lazada delivery date is between october 10th to Novembr 1st. It will no doubt be too late to wear on November 4th on the wedding. Three problems in one week is bad business. I will lodge a formal complaint with corporate tomorrow. Why your company cannot do things right is a matter for Quality Assurance. I think they must be non-existent. 50% of the dresses I wanted looked at and wanted to purchase had no sizes posted on the vendors page. This is a sign of QA not doing their job. If your company cannot control and manage their vendors how do expect to improve your business. I can see a few big problems. Please, if you would contact Corporate and find my file. I’m sure it will have a red flag on it. Sincerely a very disappointed customer.

    Anonymous
    2 months ago

    He Tuerkey Gay
    what are you doing here in the phil. i think you like to cheat the honest philippinos, is that the turkey style!!! go home
    from where you cam. how many philippinos to cheat you the make shopping be lazada??? i think i have to contact with jack ma becaust put a lot of money in lazada phil. pls. mr. balci to not ignore my writing im not to
    shy get contact with mr. jack ma pls. handle these problem immediately

    Anonymous
    3 months ago

    Hello Balci Boy
    whats now with my available balance of pesos 5,203 ??? you are a CEO i think you must begger for your monthly
    salary!!! or??? please pay now my amount 5,203 back. thank you for prompt paying

    Anonymous
    3 months ago

    fifth comment ..i saw and read the hit the street to the sell fishballs. i smiled reading it…thank you for answering me in the future.

    Anonymous
    4 months ago

    i feel so bad at that time so i just said to myself i need to forget becuase will keep on thinking what i have lost ..it amount of to me…10 thousand is a big amount of money to me sir…i am just a worker …ako ang ang madaot kon maghunahuna ko …so i learned to forget it..ut at this time i know that you aer going to help e recover what i have lost when buy items in lazada…i hope you give action in this comment..i think of you are a very nice person ….i know you could gave some ways to reccover back my order…thank you very for your immediete action in this matter…i think ihave not said anything bad. i never expect that i will see interviews from the CEO so i adrress this to him…because i believe that what i have longed for will be answered now. my email address…gonzales.r37@yahoo.com

    ★★★
    4 months ago

    tis is my third recent comment….i hope you will help me with the microphone sir inanc …this would be my second chance to inform to your company..

    Anonymous
    4 months ago

    worth 10 thousand pesos .(.i type the wrong on 10 pesos this was wrong)
    its 10 thousand pesos

    Anonymous
    4 months ago

    GOOD DAY , Si Inanc Balci CEO and Co-Founder of Lazada Philippines…I just saw your interviews and profile here today and was really greatful to know you as CEO of the company… I just want to share my encounter of lazada .because i was one’s a costumer before …at first i was good and was given the correct i tems i odered…but there was a time that i stop buying items from here ..i receive the wrong items my order is worth 10 pesos but they were not able to give the right one… i complain it to LBC already and they said i have to inform your company the address that is being ordered but i dn=idnt reveive any reply from them…i ws readat that time ….i was just an honest customer i used my they..i photo copy evrything the recit w pt i even have here the items i ordered was not u almost 2yrs now. i i forgot all what happened for a year now but when i saw your interview all had flash back with me that is why i wrote to you this…i odrd microphone ,windshield but no microphone , and wind shield is so small..i pain 10 thousand cah thru my card in the credit bank.i was not home at that time my co worker receive it. please do help me in giving the item for me..i know that you company has grown faster in our country and i also have the right to express of what has been done …Wthank you very much.

    Anonymous
    4 months ago

    Dear Sir
    i was before a good client of lazada. the customer service of lazada is really inexistent. i wrote many times to customer service but never i recived a answer. i have a available balance amount of pesos 5,203 from voucher code. i am so bitterly disappointed from lazada. i missing my amount of pesos 5,203 make now my order by olx, sulit, alibaba, they have really a good customer service. i have showed all my order by lazada to my friends we have also talked about this proplem they will also no longer shopping by lazada!!!!

    4 months ago

    Sana po masilip ng mga nasa itaas ang bawat hub para malaman naman nila kung anu ang kalagayan ng courier nila. tsaka kung paano ang sistema ng mga hub manager nila .

    4 months ago

    Nice article about lazada and no doubt lazada is one of the most popular online shopping sites in the Philippines. I’ve discovered a alternative for lazada, A new player in the game http://www.goods.ph not that popular but i thin it almost the same with lazada in terms of items and prices. It also have a cod (cash on delivery) option.

    Anonymous
    5 months ago
    What do you think about this article?
    ★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★

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