As one of the country's pioneering tech stores celebrates its 15th year, Kimstore founder Kim Lato aims to give back and pay forward to the community that helped the brand become what it is today.

Driven by her passion for providing the Filipino access to affordable tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices, she wants to help aspiring start-up businesses and support other small business retailers through several efforts. She is also looking forward to expand her own logistics platform, build partnerships with learning organizations for masterclasses for eCommerce , and with Filipino tech experts create and develop Pinoy-branded gadgets that can compete on the global stage.

During Kimstore’s virtual 15th Anniversary Celebration, Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), alongside other Kimstore partners, spoke of how the brand has grown throughout the years, “Kimstore consistently demonstrates itself as the country’s go-to online store for quality electronics.” He also commended their efforts in offering the best possible deals to consumers and providing jobs for Filipinos. Finally, he wished them longtime success and continuing prosperity in the years to come.

A groundbreaker of online selling during her early years, Lato started the company while she was still a sophomore student at the De La Salle University. A lover of tech devices who regularly did online searches, she realized that a lot of these electronic gadgets were mostly sold by foreigners at a price that many Filipinos could not afford. At a time when the now-defunct Multiply lorded it over the then-fledgling social media, Lato decided to give her countrymen a better option: a Filipino online shop that provided them premium gadgets at reasonable costs. “I think what really pushed us to strive harder is our vision of providing Filipinos access to these gadgets,” says Lato.

At first, as a woman and pioneer of Philippine online selling, she found it tough to convince customers to buy their gadgets. However, she ultimately broke through the fears and insecurities of the buying public through persistence, dedication, and providing a very personalized experience for her clients. As more and more customers bought high-quality, affordable gadgets from Kimstore, other businesses soon followed, inspired by her example.

 From its humble office in Tondo to its present-day Quezon City office and Valenzuela warehouse, Kimstore, after 15 years, remains as one of the most reliable and trusted online gadget stores in the country. To share the celebration with consumers, they have been launching promotions since the start of November such as Shop and Celebrate at Kimstore in partnership with PayMaya, 11.11 and 15.15 Deals, Payday Sale, Free Shipping Specials, Crystal Anniversary Sale, and Black Friday Sale.

Lato summarizes their 15-year journey experience into one statement: “Despite the challenges we faced in the past, we continue to serve our customers by delivering top-notch customer service. From our humble beginnings at that McDonald's beside the university, to our journeys through social media like Multiply and Facebook, and culminating in our very own, we have grown as the country's first and largest eCommerce shopping store for tech and electronics.”

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued an order on October 13  to top e-commerce platforms Facebook Marketplace, Lazada Philippines, and Shopee Philippines to stop their online sales of text blast machines. The organization, which regulates the installation, operation, and maintenance of radio stations both for public and private use, also stated in its show-cause orders to the three leading online selling brands that any sale, manufacture, acquisition (including importation), and distribution of the SMS (short messaging systems) machines are apparently in violation of several Philippine laws.

Only a few national line agencies and a handful of private companies are allowed to sell and use the SMS machines which can broadcast unsolicited text  messages to numerous cell phone users or subscribers within 3-5 kilometers of specific cell sites.  One example is the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council which is  permitted to send warnings and advisories about disasters and other nationwide emergencies to subscribers without having to ask their permission.

Using the machines to deliver messages to cell phone users without their consent would be violating their privacy under the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

According to a report by The Philippine Daily Inquirer, each machine sells at a price range of Php200,000 (S$5,325) to Php3M (S$79,885). It also stated that politicians who will be running for the national elections in 2022 are the common albeit secret buyers of the text blast machines.

With at least 169 million cell phone subscribers in the Philippines, based on the 2020 Statista report, candidates who choose to use the equipment illegally and surreptitiously can easily target and send campaign messages or invites to a good number of the voting population.

The product listings of the SMS machines have since been removed  from their sites by Facebook, Lazada, and Shopee.

Lazada also replied in the form of a Tweet to digital news site, ABS-CBN:  “Our team does a daily manual sweep for product listings that violate existing policies and these are removed once identified. Strong action is also taken against sellers found breaching our platform's terms and conditions.”

Representatives from the three digital giants have been asked to appear before the NTC on Oct. 27.

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