Entrepreneurs urged: Go online, try e-commerce
Going online is the easiest and most affordable way for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to market their products.
Officials from both the public and private sectors agree on this and are urging entrepreneurs to try their luck in e-commerce.
Joey Concepcion, presidential adviser on entrepreneurship, said that going digital is the way to go for the Philippines, which is lagging behind its Southeast Asian neighbors.
“Many of the people here will find it difficult to enter shopping centers. But they’re on Facebook. Platforms like Lazada and Shopee also teach you how to market your product. They help you to promote,” he said in an interview during the Mentor Me on Wheels Caravan at SM City Cebu last Monday.
Concepcion, who is also the founder of Go Negosyo, added that with digitalization becoming more mainstream, access to both market and money will become easier.
The more the Philippines grows into the digital market, he said the more the economy will become open.
The presence of e-commerce platforms should also be welcomed by smaller businesses as they will not have to spend more renting physical spaces and hiring employees.
“But there are challenges. They (small entrepreneurs) have to understand how to use smartphones,” he said.
While most people are adept at using smartphones for social media, Concepcion said the level of aptitude towards digitalization for micro and small businesses is still low.
Several MSMEs trooped to the Activity Center of SM City Cebu last Monday to take advantage of the Mentor Me on Wheels caravan.
Around 30 mentors, who are successful businessmen themselves, were available for quick one-on-one consultations where they can ask for advice and questions about how they run their businesses.
But while advice from mentors are welcome, Concepcion said business owners themselves should continue to learn, study, and look at their business models to improve.
“Everybody in this place has a reason to succeed. But in the end, you have to want it more than the others. And that is the way to success,” he added.
Meanwhile, e-commerce platform Lazada is also encouraging MSMEs to try uploading their products on their website and mobile app.
Carlos Barrera, chief operating officer of Lazada Philippines, said they do not charge business owners or ask for commission when they upload their products on the site.
“We charge nothing. And you dont have to set up a big business. You can just upload a few products and try out. I assure you, just with a few pictures, you can start to see that customers are buying from you; without having to pay rent or hire employees,” he said.
In order to attract customers, Barrera advised that business owners should make sure they upload good quality photos as e-commerce is “very visual.”
For the Philippines, going digital is also imperative as it is already “unstoppable” and happening in other countries, he added.
According to Barrera, e-commerce only comprises 2 percent of the entire market in the Philippines.
In other countries, he said the market share of e-commerce is up to 20 percent.
Even if the Philippines is still starting out in the e-commerce industry, Barrera said they see it becoming much bigger in the coming years.
“We don’t want to get commission (from sellers) because we believe a lot in the market. Philippines has so much potential and there’s a lot of small entrepreneurs. Our objective is to grow with them,” he said.
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