Tips to Leverage Digital Commerce During COVID-19
COVID-19 Opens an Opportunity for Some Local Merchants to Go Online.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended businesses throughout the world. Since many cities across the Philippines have implemented ‘stay-at-home’ mandates, many businesses have been forced to close their physical locations and/or severely limit their services.
With customers unable to go out and visit brick-and-mortar shops, having a digital presence is more important than ever. It can help provide some much-needed revenue to stay operational and to keep staff employed during these uncertain times.
During this ‘new normal’, reports show that the number of registered Philippine online businesses surged more than 40 times in the past 5 months as people turned to online channels for income. “The silver lining in COVID-19 is the accelerated adoption of e-commerce,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said, adding that the agency’s shift to digital business registration has also helped.
Even though e-commerce platforms were established pre-pandemic, its identity strengthened since the quarantine started.
Petrus Carbonell, Lazada Philippines’ head of business development, shared that Lazada has witnessed significant growth. “So far, we see a lot of demand.
We’re also seeing people who are more interested in starting their businesses online,” he added. “I think this will continue even after quarantine and if you think about it, these trends have always been present. Ang nangyari lang ngayong quarantine, na-accelerate siya,” says Carbonell. Further, he says that some of the most popular products in Lazada’s platform are medical items, groceries, and ready-to-eat products.
Many restaurants have also moved towards delivery services to continue serving their target market. According to Lenlen Mesina, La Carnita Modern Mexican Cantina co-founder, proper research and development are necessary to ensure that quality of Cantina’s products even in the new normal. “At the moment, what we’re trying to do, instead of dispensing or distributing the product, we had to come up with product lines that can be experienced by the customers in the comfort of their homes, that’s why we really value the support and the service of third-party suppliers when it comes to delivery,” she shared.
Mesina also noted that the quarantine is a great opportunity for many businesses to understand how to navigate into e-commerce and to incorporate online payments. “You need to make sure that you’re able to deliver what you’re promising to your online market and that the product is available from you. It’s also not just being available, the products must be consistent and of very good quality kasi ‘yun ‘yung magiging labanan when it comes to online selling,” she added.
In addition, Carbonell added that e-commerce platforms and online sellers will continue to grow, even in a post-pandemic society. “In terms of the potential of people reaching success, I would say that the sky is the limit because we see new millionaire sellers every time that we run a campaign. I’m not saying that everyone who goes online will be successful, but we see many cases that the potential is huge,” he said.
Tips to Leverage Digital Commerce During COVID-19
A strong online presence for any business today is no longer an option, but a critical necessity.
Here are some tips that you need to consider to leverage the best of digital commerce to boost your business during COVID-19.
Invest in a website.
The first step in taking your business online is creating a website – or if you already have one, optimize or update it. You can hire a web developer or agency for that, or simply follow the guidelines offered on certain website DIY platforms. A website isn’t only supposed to look nice, but it must also provide good content, be user-friendly, and provide all of the information that the customer is looking for.
Also, make sure to keep it constantly updated with regard to prices, stocks, and delivery times, and keep in touch with website visitors and the people who place orders. Make sure that there are no typos, wrong information, or links that don’t work properly, since the trustworthiness of your business is usually deemed to be only as good as the quality of your website and the attention you pay to details.
Utilize marketplace platforms.
One way for small businesses, particularly retailers, to sell online is by utilizing existing platforms rather than building their own website.
Because of how suddenly the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated and small businesses had to close, it’s crucial for businesses to generate revenue as quickly as possible, rather than spend months trying to launch their own website. Online marketplace platforms like BigBuyBay.com, Lazada and Shopee are the easiest options, since business owners don’t need to design an entire website. All you need are descriptions and photos of your products, and you can quickly get your online shop up and running.
Utilizing marketplace platforms is an easy entry point during times like this where you have to pivot quickly to generate revenue online.
Whether you choose BigBuyBay.com, Lazada, Shopee, or some other marketplace platform, it’s a good idea to take detailed and high-quality photos of your products that really demonstrate its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to hire a professional photographer. These days, even smartphone cameras offer high enough resolution that any business owner can take amazing images of their products on their own.
Remember, by buying online, customers are not in front of the product – they can’t touch it or examine it. But if you share great photos, if you describe what your product is in detail, you can stand out.
Also, don’t forget to utilize keywords in your store and product descriptions!
Adjust your offerings based on what people need or want.
Many businesses don’t have the resources to provide the same amount of products and services as they would during normal times. So, it’s beneficial to restructure your business to fit not only your current needs, but also the needs of the community you serve. Similarly, businesses that shifting from a physical storefront to an online shop might have to adjust their products and services to match the needs of their target communities, in order to maximize sales.
If you’re selling items through a marketplace platform, it’s a good idea to see which items are selling most popularly. Some things sell better than others – once you identify which your best-sellers are, consider prioritizing those first.
Utilize social media.
Social media marketing is a great way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers.
Your customers are already interacting with different brands through social media, and if you’re not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you’re missing out!
Great marketing on social media can bring success to your business, creating loyal brand advocates and even driving leads and sales.
Engage in social media marketing – a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your branding and marketing goals.
Social media marketing includes activities like posting text and image updates, videos, infographics, and other contents that drive audience engagement, as well as paid social media advertising.
Make sure that you post regularly and offer valuable information that your target audience will find interesting and helpful.
Enable secure online payments.
Think about setting up an online payment system that will facilitate the transfer of money between you and your clients. Create a dedicated business bank account and draw up a contract with the bank, so that you can set up a secure payment processing page and accept credit card payments. Send invoices by e-mail and other electronic means, or you can send a paper receipt, delivered along with the goods.
Also consider if you having Cash-On-Delivery would give you a competitive advantage, especially that Asian Shoppers particularly in the Philippines, still prefer a COD or payment upon delivery.
Also, think of a return and refund policy. Will you give money back? How? Will you exchange products or provide a voucher for other services? Plan this carefully and be ready with a clear policy.
Deliver with third-party couriers.
For independently-owned restaurants, using courier services like GrabExpress or Lalamove can be a life-saver. Many businesses besides restaurants have had to lay off staff due to costs or limit hours due to social distancing policies, which means that, even if they did have the ability to make deliveries before, their resources are now even more restricted.
Fortunately for the merchants who sell products in BigBuyBay.com marketplace, delivery service couriers is no longer an issue.
JAS Intermodal Logistics, Inc. is the dedicated logistic partner of BigBuyBay.com.
All Merchants in BigBuyBay.com marketplace is guaranteed to have a dedicated logistic partner who will pick-up and deliver their products to their respective customers, including the corresponding payment of the items if the term is Cash-On-Delivery.
The Bottom Line
“In the world of business, the only constant is change.”
Even in times of crisis, it is important for businesses to be flexible and adapt in order to remain competitive on the ever-changing market.
Moving your business online is a necessity amid social distancing measures and this ‘new normal’ we are experiencing. It is definitely a challenge, but at the same time, it can be a great marketing move that will allow you to reach a larger audience and increase your chances of generating more income.
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to leverage digital commerce even during this pandemic. Make sure to consider the abovementioned tips to start moving your business online.
The Internet has made it easier than ever to manage everything from your computer – all you have to do is get started.