O Shopping on ABS-CBN has erased our memories of 1990s-era home shopping programs. Out with big-haired ladies flogging knickknacks in throwback living rooms; enter sleek sets, hosts who deftly avoid being irritating despite the nonstop spiels, and well-made products that actually make life easy for the consumer instead of ending up in the “throw” pile during spring cleanings.
ABS-CBN first entered the TV shopping business in 1997 with Sky Mall. Perhaps in part due to Filipino audiences’ hesitation to purchase things that they only saw on TV, Sky Mall folded up after a few years.
For ABS-CBN, there was a lesson to be learned from the drawback, according to chairman Eugenio Lopez III (EL3).
As he had noted during the launch of O Shopping in 2013, having a “strong and competent partner” for such a venture was a must.
In early 2012 they found one in South Korea-based CJ O Shopping Corporation. Following the formation of the joint venture company A CJ O Shopping Corporation, the O Shopping program started airing over ABS-CBN in October 2013.
“ABS-CBN is in the business of reaching audiences, so we needed a partner in the business of selling great products,” EL3 had said at launch.
Paolo Pineda, chief finance officer (CFO) of A CJ, said ABS-CBN at the time wanted to expand its direct-to-consumer business while CJ was aiming to expand to other markets.
“Another reason is we tried home shopping in the 1990s and we simply wanted to try it again. Incidentally, CJ in Korea is owned by a pay TV company and is one of its largest revenue contributors,” Pineda noted.
Additionally, O Shopping allowed ABS-CBN to generate revenues for airtime that used to be the signoff period for the station and was “not usually productive.”
The ordering process at O Shopping is fairly straightforward: shoppers simply need to call the phone number flashed on TV or to log on to the website or mobile site. Some 60 customer service representatives are on hand to take orders on both platforms 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The process can be completed in about five minutes—as easy as ordering in from one’s favorite fast food restaurant!
Shoppers can then expect to have their Wedo or Vo.Temm product or any other O Shopping item as soon as the next day for those who are based in Mega Manila or within five days minimum for those living in the provinces.
To date, there are about 1,300 items covering 10 product categories in the O Shopping catalogue: home and living, home improvement, health and fitness, travel and luggage, electronics, sports and outdoors, kids and babies, fashion and accessories, health and beauty, and ABS-CBN Store merchandise.
On the O Shopping program aired on ABS-CBN, two hosts highlight at least eight products during the 12 midnight to 4:30 a.m. block. To break up the 30-minute blocks devoted to a certain product, smaller items are featured in shorter clips or skits. The best sellers get repeat exposures throughout the week.
TV viewers thus have the luxury of being able to visually and virtually inspect each product in detail, from the magical properties of the Vo.Temm cleaner to the convenience afforded by the ILO multi cooker to the health benefits of the Wedo X-Bike.
Internet users, meanwhile, can take their time browsing through the full spectrum of products on O Shopping’s uncluttered and easy-to-navigate site, which features some of the same product videos shown on TV.
In the Philippines, one of O Shopping’s earliest hits was the Happycall double-sided pan. This handy wonder has a diamond coating that allows one to avoid sticky kitchen situations, plus an “oven effect” that allows even the most inexpert cooks to come up with tasty meals.
“That was really a hit Asia wide,” said Pineda of the cookware. “Before we sold it here, they already sold six million pieces of it in Korea.”
Another item that practically flew off the shelves was the Zero Bike, a compact exercise bike ideal for seniors, condo dwellers or those who don’t want to miss their regular dose of cardio even during bad weather. At its peak, O Shopping brought in one container of the Zero Bike every week.
“Competition’s tough but everyone has their niche,” Pineda observed of the Philippine online shopping landscape.
One e-retailer is Filipinos’ go-to site for tech and gadgets, while another is known for fashion retailing.
O Shopping looks to corner the market chiefly in anything for the home, especially products that make chores easier and less time-consuming, and those that maximize one’s limited living space.
“We have a good mix of products, but we focus on the homemaker, making homes more efficient, making Filipinos more efficient so they have more time for their family,” Pineda noted.
Spoilt for choice
The shopper is spoilt for choice as the company supplements Korean brands such as Vo.Temm, Wedo and ILO—which are exclusive to O Shopping—with other private brands for the home, for travel and for basic daily needs.
Soon, inventory will be boosted further as the company hopes to carry products from local suppliers.
But what really sets O Shopping apart from competitors is its TV component.
“People really look for good value for their hard-earned money, so they ask about the product, its features and benefits. That’s what TV helps us do; we can explain the product unlike if you just see it in the mall,” Pineda said.
Based on the basic information provided by customers to complete a sale, O Shopping clients are predominantly females belonging to the 35-60 age range.
Thanks to its TV and online platforms, O Shopping is able to reach major urban cities and provinces, with orders coming in even “from the most rural of areas in the Philippines,” Pineda shared.
Christmas is O Shopping’s busiest season, with the summer months when people gear up for vacations and then for the back-to-school rush making their case for the distinction.
Way of life
Three years in, the CFO said Filipinos have started to accept home shopping although “a lot more people also have to try it for the first time.”
“In Korea, home shopping is really a way of life. We also want to make it a normal buying option here,” he said.
Slowly but surely, change might be coming to Filipino shopping habits as can be seen in O Shopping’s revenues, which hit P800 million in 2016—a robust 33% increase over 2015 figures.
If they do it right, there will be a much larger slice of the pie for home shopping in the Philippines in general and for O Shopping in particular.