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Build an online store for free

/ 05:12 AM March 23, 2018

It’s easy for any entrepreneur to build an internet presence in this day and age where anyone can be his own publisher. But it’s not easy to build a real online store complete with inventory management and data analysis tools needed to thrive in an increasingly borderless world.

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Micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs)—deemed the backbone of the local economy, making up 99.57 percent of local establishments—now have an option to acquire a digital platform vetted by a reputable banking institution for free.

Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines has teamed up with New York-based digital platform provider GlobalLinker to help MSMEs build online stores for free, deepen their supply chain and tap overseas markets.

For its part, Union Bank seeks to build on the momentum gained by the Ureka Forum, its social responsibility project which is now the country’s biggest e-commerce mass conversion program that has so far brought 1,500 MSMEs into the digital space.

The new UnionBank Globallinker seeks to open up opportunities for more entrepreneurs to learn from industry giants, jump-start their digitization, and convert their “brick-and-mortar” business model into “brick-and-click.”

“It can evolve into an Alibaba with a Linked-in aspect,” Union Bank president Edwin Bautista said in a recent interview during the launch of UnionBank Globallinker.

Alibaba is the Chinese multinational e-commerce giant founded by technopreneur Jack Ma while Linked-in is a business- and employment-oriented networking site.

MSMEs do not need to be Union Bank customers to sign up to the Globallinker platform. But by building a community of entrepreneurs, these businesses may eventually need banking services—payments solutions, deposit-taking, asset management or a loan for a working capital—which the bank can provide. “In this age, hard-sell doesn’t work anymore,” Bautista said.

This is part of UnionBank’s thrust to encourage “co-creation” or allowing stakeholders, in this case the digital users, to determine the evolution of the digital platform supported by the bank, Bautista said.

The same Globallink platform had been launched in other markets like India with a great deal of success, he noted. And he doesn’t doubt that this will gain traction in the Philippines as well.

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The goal is to have 100,000 MSMEs sign up to this platform within the year.

The prospective e-commerce transactions that will be coursed through this platform will also give Union Bank an idea of which entrepreneurs have good cash flow and can be good borrowers.

“When you provide them working capital, you have a scientific basis to assess risk,” said Union Bank chief financial officer, senior executive vice president and treasurer Jose Emmanuel Hilado in a separate interview.

Through UnionBank GlobaLinker’s LINKER.store, in just a few steps, entrepreneurs can build an online store complete with inventory management and data analysis tools, in turn helping them make smarter data-driven decisions.

The platform also carries a networking feature which MSME owners can use to link with other business owners who may be their potential supplier, partner or customer.

News, articles and discussions on industry developments are posted on Biz Forum, allowing users to stay up-to-date and share insights.

Discussions under the Biz Forum also provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to promote their own products and services.

“Going online is the first major step for businesses to thrive on digital, but another thing that entrepreneurs should consider is the extent of efficiency that their tools deliver for them. That is why we made UnionBank GlobalLinker that single destination where they can be productive in the way they interact with colleagues and make use of online business solutions,” said UnionBank vice president and UnionBank GlobalLinker lead proponent Dino Velasco.

When companies enroll in the platform, they get a storage service called “eBriefcase” where they can upload word files, spreadsheets and slides.

These files can be shared between users of the platform. Members can enjoy up to 1GB of free space while companies have an overall cap of 4GB.

UnionBank GlobalLinker also has a built-in calendar that helps users set meetings.

The calendar lets users view the availability of their links and set recurring weekly or monthly meetings.

“The shift to digital technology is a challenge for MSMEs but through UnionBank GlobaLinker, we make them our partners in our pursuit of innovation. We look forward to seeing more MSMEs grow on UnionBank GlobalLinker and reach their full potential,” Velasco said.

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TAGS: entrepreneur, Globallinker, Online store
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