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Ahead in the cloud

Data is becoming the lifeline of businesses today. Organizations are beginning to realize that they have to know how to store and manage data and harness its power to help them make more informed decisions much quicker.

A cloud-based environment is seen to give enterprises this kind of flexibility, and the group behind famous brands such as Landers Superstore, Popeyes Philippines, Kuya J Restaurant has been maximizing such benefits of adopting cloud technology in their operations.

A giant on the rise with more than a million members, seven superstores and a dozen more in the pipeline, plus a growing number of restaurants to its name, Unido Capital Holdings Inc. has landed “in the cloud” in its aim for the skies.

Francis Reyes, the group’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, said that cloud adoption has helped their retail brand Landers expand beyond its physical stores onto the digital realm, even before the pandemic accelerated the need for such paradigm shifts in 2020.

Unido Capital Holdings Inc. Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer Francis Reyes

“To tell you honestly, we didn’t pivot with Landers during the pandemic because we have already started setting up our e-commerce business, Landers.ph, way before in 2017. Because of this, Landers has enjoyed steady growth and, in fact, holds the lead when it comes to grocery shopping within Metro Manila,” Mr. Reyes shared.

The group, however, did have to pivot for its food businesses by creating Central Delivery, an online platform that enabled the group’s restaurants to continuously serve its customers when the lockdowns slowed foot traffic to a virtual halt.

“In just 22 days, we were able to come up with Central.ph sometime in April 2020, through which we offered our customers not just delivery services, but also exclusive discounts and promos,” Mr. Reyes explained.

Nonetheless, the pandemic further emphasized the growing importance of cloud solutions to modern businesses.

“Cloud services were very important to us back then and is still very important to us now. We were able to mobilize and use that robust technology to go online almost instantaneously,” he added.

In undertaking these endeavors, the group needed a reliable partner that would not only provide access to necessary solutions, but also empower the company and its people to understand these new technologies.

“It’s also about trust. We can have access to a lot of things – information, technology, other resources – but trust is never quite as easy to access. It needs to be developed [and] have a good foundation,” Mr. Reyes added. “PLDT, being around for decades, epitomizes Filipino technology. It is something we trust.”

With the help of experts from ePLDT and PLDT Enterprise, Mr. Reyes and his team were able to create suitable cloud-based solutions and services that helped Landers maximize programs such as Salesforce Cloud, Amazon S3, and Microsoft Azure.

The Unido Holdings Group executive credited PLDT for helping them get the right solutions that they do not know of yet at first.

“Obviously, there are solutions for infrastructure that had to be set up for customer support and services. These include anything from e-mail services to analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) to artificial intelligence. We have been looking for and eager to have these, and PLDT has all these in its arsenal,” Mr. Reyes said.

Among their most complex and useful undertakings is Project Giga CRM, which aims to improve contact and data management by connecting all the stores and datapoints in the cloud.

Project Giga CRM also employs a new module that greatly improves the quality of customer center support that can, for one, automatically convert messages, inquiries, and feedback from the website and other social media assets into tickets that can be traced, monitored and, most importantly, resolved.

The new CRM system also provides a weekly report on product supplies, data on top spenders per branch, tracks the number of members converted via canvassers, gauges campaign performance by comparing costs against revenue, and monitor sign-up and renewal rates by measuring them against targets.

Growth beyond the pandemic

While the pandemic seems to be winding down, its impact in the way the world conducts business is here to stay. Landers and its affiliates, having found their place in the cloud, is testament to this.

At the recently-held PH Digicon 2022, Dennis Jimenez, chief information officer of Landers affiliate Kuya J Food Group, said that the solutions worked because they are “scalable, agile, available and cost-efficient,” and that they intend to build on these gains in the coming years.

“Today, we are assured that the right tech is always available for us and that we can make our vision happen, even during challenging times, as we’ve seen in the past couple of years,” Retail E-Commerce Business Head Ryan Pangilinan added.

For Mr. Reyes, his sights are currently set on making sure that Landers’ goals soon turn into milestones, as it gears towards having more than 20 stores by 2024 and tripling the brand’s worth by 2026.

The group is also aiming to operate 100 Kuya J and 400 Popeye’s physical stores by 2026; and such goals are seemingly within reach. This is based on Landers’ 53 percent growth in the past couple of years and its recording of the highest number of transactions for Popeye’s in the Philippines, as compared to other franchise holders in other parts of the world.

Impressive as the numbers are, however, Mr. Reyes maintains that their primary motivation is still the people, particularly its more than 1 million members, more than 10,000 employees, and the thousands of others they serve through Landers.ph and Central.ph.

In meeting its goals and reaching customers, a cloud-empowered Landers group is definitely not alone on its journey.

“With ePLDT and PLDT Enterprise, we don’t just get access to the cloud or to new technologies. We are able to sit down and think of solutions together. And that is why we truly value this partnership,” Mr. Reyes said.

For more on ePLDT’s multi-cloud solutions, contact your Relationship Manager or visit www.ePLDT.com.

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