Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector is finally seeing some good signs as the Philippine economy has started to bounce back. But the challenge for Filipino business owners remains the same: how will they respond to market changes and evolving consumer needs?
The Future is Really Going Digital
At the onset of the pandemic, the MSMEs were among the most hard-hit sectors in the country. To survive, many of them were urged to adjust how they do business–exploring more on the digital side and utilizing e-Commerce as an important tool for them to thrive during those difficult and uncertain times.
Online selling and shopping are now integral to our new normal, and MSMEs must continue to capitalize on digital marketing to grow their businesses further.
e-Commerce Will Continue to Grow
e-Commerce, which stands for electronic commerce, is defined as the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet. It encompasses tools for online buyers and sellers including mobile shopping and online payment.
The Philippines has a population of 110.4 million, of which 60 million own a smartphone. In fact, as early as 2015, Filipinos were already using their laptops or phones to purchase something online. And when the pandemic happened, as expected, there was a surge in the number of Filipino online shoppers.
In 2019, there were 41.9 million online shoppers in the country. This number grew to 46 million and 50 million in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Even when malls are now operating normally and mobility restrictions have been eased nationwide, the number of online shoppers for 2022 is projected at 53.8 million.
Undoubtedly, e-Commerce will continue to soar and you can find your potential customers in various online channels and platforms.
Tips for improving your online selling
Maximize The Use of Marketplaces
The most popular market places today are Lazada and Shopee. Marketplaces are basically our virtual malls. Aside from providing user-friendly channels where you can sell your products conveniently, these platforms also offer marketing tools to improve your SEO rankings and increase visibility on their respective pages.
But to be clear, of course, you must pay monthly subscription fees to continue using the platform and pay additional fees for ads and SEO rankings. It is also important to note that you have several competitors in the market. Paying for digital marketing at reasonable prices isn’t bad, especially if it will help boost your online presence and sales.
Create Your Own Online Store
Setting up an account in the ‘hottest’ marketplaces today is highly advisable, but having your own online store is also important. You can link this to your Lazada or Shopee accounts and customers will be directed to your website.
Having your own online store can add to your credibility as an online seller and will also come in handy to potential buyers who prefer shopping directly on the store’s page.
Make sure you integrate the following into your online store: easy-to-use features such as simple navigation tools and checkout flows; compatibility and functionality on all mobile devices; and secured and reliable payment processes.
Important tip: place your top products on the main page. Always remember that for an online store to be successful, it should take no more than five clicks for your customers to purchase.
Find The Best Delivery Partner
Delivery fees can be a major concern for some customers because there are instances when these fees can cost higher than the purchased item. The location of the buyer usually affects the pricing so it is important to know which courier services can provide fair rates and fast and reliable delivery.
Aside from the delivery fee, it is important that the items are handled carefully and delivered to customers in good condition. One mistake will negatively affect the overall customer experience. It is also your responsibility as a seller to ensure everything goes smoothly from when they check out your product to when it arrives on their doorstep.
LBC, JRS Express, J&T Express, GrabExpress, and Lalamove are some of the most widely-used courier services in the online shopping industry today.
Choose an Efficient Payment Gateway
Because everything is now going digital, one of the strengths of online shopping is the cashless payment option. Aside from limiting physical interactions between the riders and buyers for safety purposes, paying online is also much more convenient.
This is why we’ve seen the rise of e-wallets such as GCash and Maya in the last two years. For online sellers, it is advisable to use both to cater to users of these two apps but you also have to find out which payment gateways actually work best for you.
How much will go to the payment gateway and how much will go to you? While it is understandable that the convenience of your customers remains a priority, you must still choose where you can earn fairly.
Get Support in a Community
Having MSME experts who can share important insights with you is advantageous in growing your business. Joining a community will also link you to fellow entrepreneurs, and you will be able to exchange ideas and share best practices with each other. Facebook communities like Small Business Network (SBN) Philippines have been created to support and empower Filipino entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and succeed.