E-commerce gains ground during lockdown; MSMEs urged to go online

MORE micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially exporters are urged to adopt e-commerce to continue serving both the domestic and overseas markets as business opportunities remain huge despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Janette Toral, digital influencer, coach and trainer, said they can subscribe to various service providers for P500 a month or even less to maintain an online store.

“Definitely, there is a growing number of logistics players… I think if there is any opportunity for growth that will be in cold storage and cold logistic solutions. Now you can deliver your groceries. I think if people are comfortable in having their groceries and food goods delivered at home, our groceries perhaps should think about it in the future,” she said in a webinar.

Toral said the food sector has been considered the “future battleground of e-commerce.”

“I guess that is really happening right now, especially during this time (of enhanced community quarantine) where we are now seeing the rise of grocery and online food market applications. Some of them have websites, some of them are using Facebook,” she added.

Toral cited the deliveries of tons of goods coming from Baguio City, which are mostly pre-ordered online by consumers in Metro Manila.

She said social media is still the number one platform for marketing of products.

“It is still social media because almost 98 to 100 percent of Filipino internet users are on social media so it’s just a matter of really knowing it, and really knowing how to target (the market) so that you can reach the right number of people,” she said.

For services, Toral said digital agencies which are into scaled services like digital market, graphic design, video editing, among others, market through social media particularly Facebook or services marketplaces.

With this trend, MSMEs that are engaged in e-commerce are expected to reach 100,000 this year under the Philippine e-Commerce Roadmap, she added.

Roberto Amores, trustee for the food sector of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport), said his sector has been digitally marketing products even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“You can sell special packages of food items, preserves to fresh items through the e-commerce market. It is already established. It’s just a matter of expanding it,” he said.

Being online is a necessity

Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) president Sherill Quintana said migrating or being present online is a necessity with or without a crisis.

“There is an infrastructure that is in place. I believe more so on the omnichannel, there are different touch channels when it comes to your products so that you will be able to service (your customers),” she said.

“There is an acceleration of digital store presence or the digitalization of businesses, but there is also that need to have that omnichannel presence. When you order online, then pickups are available,” she added.

Quintana also underscored the importance of employing the so-called “hyperlocal,” a strategy wherein one works and serves a particular community or a barangay, especially during this Covid-19 crisis.

“Before you export your brand, you have to gain a local following. You have to build your brand on the national level. So that (when) you have a crisis or a problem of putting your goods out there in the export market, you have immediately a following that patronize you on the local level,” she said.

Agriculture powerhouse

Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau director Senen Perlada said businesses have to focus on the domestic market, apart from the overseas market.

“In terms of markets, let’s not just look at geographic markets, let’s look at market spaces.There are many opportunities there,” he added. “In terms of geographic (markets), I think we should not go far. China will be recovering ahead and I think we are okay in China. Hopefully, Korea is also going back to normal.”

Perlada said electronics will continue to have a big share of the country’s good exports under the so-called new normal.

In the local market, Perlada identified the agriculture and healthcare sectors, financial services and logistics offering huge business opportunities.

“This is a very clear opportunity for the Philippines to actually emerge again as an agriculture powerhouse. We just need to do the right things and of course, agriculture processing as well,” he said.

“Healthcare will be big. All we can see now that has anything to do with healthcare is good for yourself, good for me, will be a very, very important touchpoint. And we are looking at products that will boost the immunity. Logistics will be very, very big, especially (in reaching) the last mile,” he added.

Source: sunstar.com.ph

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