More micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially exporters, are urged to adopt ecommerce to continue serving both the domestic and overseas markets as business opportunities remain huge despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (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 ecommerce”.
“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, food market applications online and some of them have websites, some of them are using Facebook,” she added.
Toral also cited deliveries of tons of goods coming from Baguio City, most of them are pre-ordered online by consumers in Metro Manila.
Toral 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 itâ€™s just a matter of really knowing it, and really knowing how to target 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 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 ecommerce market. It is already established, it’s just a matter of expanding it,” he said.
Amores, also Director for Agriculture of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and president of Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization (Philfoodex), thus urged exporters to expand their marketplace during the Covid-19 pandemic as ecommerce provides business opportunities.
Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) president Sherill Quintana said migrating or being present online is a necessity with or without the 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 stores 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 the 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.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 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), if you want to go and look at geographics, 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 really that will boost the immunity. Logistics will be very, very big especially the last mile to be able fulfill the requirements of consumers,” he added.
To sell online, Perlada also underscored the importance of improving product packaging.
“When you go to ecommerce, your packaging has to change. It is not going to be the same, like previous brick and mortar,” he said. “Now you have to really think and engineer your packaging in such a way that it will suit the requirements of the ecommerce market.”