Jakarta. Hundreds of online stores in Indonesia are set to participate in the fifth annual National Online Shopping Day, known as Harbolnas, on Dec. 12-14 in the hope of repeating the success of last year's event by offering discount promotions to eager customers.
This year's event will see participation by 211 e-commerce sites, compared to last year's 142 and only five in 2012.
"Indonesia is an archipelago, hence a big opportunity for the e-commerce industry," Miranda Suwanto, senior vice president of Lazada, which is organizing the event, said on Wednesday (07/12).
Indonesia has 75 million internet users out of a population of 250 million people, according to research by Markplus Insight and Marketeers in 2013. About 20 percent of Indonesian internet users are online shoppers, compared to up to 80 percent in Singapore and Malaysia.
Citing the numbers, Miranda said Indonesia's e-commerce has "so much" potential to explore and events such as Harbolnas will introduce online shopping to those who previously had little exposure to it.
The organizers hope online stores will book three times more in transaction volumes and values during the event than normal, but they do not provide sales figures during previous events or the number of transactions. However, Miranda told the Jakarta Globe that participating online stores recorded double the normal number of transactions during the event in 2015.
"We don't have a rigid target for this year, maybe just the same as last year to be able to reach more consumers," she said.
Each of the online stores has its own preparation for the event. Some have prepared more couriers, stronger information technology systems to back a surge in web visits and special pre-event discounts for customers.
MatahariMall.com for example, has been offering themed weekly promotions for its customers.
"We have been preparing for the [Harbolnas] event since the so-called Single Day in November," MatahariMall.com head of communication and partnership Alvin Aulia Akbar said, referring to the shopping event popularized by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
"Each week, since Nov. 11, we have the so-called Trip to Superbol event. Superbol is our own call sign for Harbolnas promotions. We offer special fixed prices on products related to the week's theme," he said.
Transactions at MatahariMall.com surged five times compared to its daily average during Harbolnas last year, Alvin said. This year, the online store has set a target of up to seven times its average daily transactions.
"We made sure that we have better delivery," Lazada senior vice president Guillaume Parain said, separately.
According to Parain, Lazada hires temporary employees to increase its number of deliveries from one pickup per day to three.
Indonesia's first online ticket booking service, Tiket.com, is also joining the three-day event. Tiket.com promotion assistant manager Nadja P. Adhianti said the company did not make special preparations for the event.
"We have discounts of up to Rp 500,000 [$37] but that's it. We've already improved our IT system since the surge in [site] visitors ahead of the Idul Fitri celebration," she said.
This year's event is also supported by banks – including Indonesia's biggest lender by market value Bank Central Asia (BCA) and CIMB Niaga – that offer additional discounts on transactions for customers using their payment gateways.
BCA, for example, offers a discount of up to 90 percent for every credit card transaction on Lazada.