COVID-19 spurs upswing in PH e-conomy | Inquirer Business

COVID-19 spurs upswing in PH e-conomy

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 05:01 AM May 08, 2020

Experts talk about the Stay at Home E-conomy.

Live streaming, 30-minute delivery, and micro fulfillment centers.

According to a few local digital entrepreneurs, these are just some of e-commerce trends to watch out for in the Philippines, since social distancing will likely become the norm even after lockdown restrictions are eased, given that there is no end yet in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I’d say that this pandemic would really be the inflection point for e-commerce here in the Philippines,” said Steve Sy, CEO of e-commerce solutions company Great Deals, who spoke on April 30 as one of the experts at the online forum “Stay at Home E-conomy.” The event, streamed live on Facebook and moderated by Inquirer Prime content editor and Inquirer Business section writing editor Dax Lucas, is the first of a series of online discussions, titled “OnLive: Digital Economy Essentials.”


“The impact of COVID-19 on us was [to force us] to go digital; cashless payments are on an all-time high because people want [contactless transactions]. I think this has created the opportunity for many companies to realize that e-commerce has arrived,” Sy said.

Another speaker, Lazada Philippines business development head Petrus Paolo Carbonell, confirmed Sy’s observation.

“E-commerce in general has currently been seeing significant growth, but the focus, mostly, especially during the first few weeks of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), was essential goods,” Carbonell said. “The trend that we’re seeing here are first-time buyers are on the platform—and they are growing every day.”

He added that because of this new consumer behavior, now would be a good time for “offline” retailers to migrate to online platforms—and an effective way to market their products, continued another resource speaker, and the forum’s host Hiyasmin Neri-Soyao, would be to do live-streaming videos.

“You have your promos for certain new products, and live-streaming is a way for you to amplify that,” said Soyao, who is also CEO of live-streaming platform Shoppertainment Live. She also listed the five elements necessary for an effective live stream: the presenter, the product, the promo, the demo and frequency.

“Live-streaming can actually help you sell more and engage more with your customers. When they have questions about your products, it’s easier to engage them,” Soyao said.


And if you need more help in the sales department, why not try having an influencer promote your products?

“At Shoppertainment Live, we actually have an ‘army’ of influencers whom we’ve trademarked as Influensales hosts, or influencers who also know how to sell,” Soyao said. “They understand the product, the brand and the message of what they are selling, and can entertain people as well. So if you can do that, you can be an Influensales.”

That’s one way e-commerce players can stay ahead of competition: Aside from products, offer an array of content in your online store, Carbonell said. Lazada, for one, has also been hosting live-streaming sessions on their platform.

“People are starting to consume more content online,” Carbonell added. “And we see this trend extending even beyond the ECQ.”

Sy identified another upcoming trend that would differentiate the more diligent e-commerce entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack: quick commerce. With more consumers turning to online stores, the brand that’s able to fulfill others in the quickest possible time—say, 30 minutes, just like with fast-food delivery—would have an edge over other merchants.

This would also translate to demand for more motorcycle drivers as delivery personnel—another business opportunity—and for “micro” fulfillment centers.

“We [in Great Deals] can see more of these micro fulfillment centers coming up, so [businesses] can deliver faster to people in their communities,” said Sy, whose company Great Deals provides brands both big and small the full suite of e-commerce-enabling services: from digital content, to web design, analytics and chat support, to warehousing and fulfillment.

But any entrepreneur looking to pivot to e-commerce needs a crucial tool: digital software. The forum’s fourth speaker, Multisys Technologies Corporation CEO and founder David Almirol Jr., highlighted, especially, the need for seamless technology.

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“You don’t want a ‘Frankenstein’ system. You want to deal with the right tech partner,” Almirol said. “And that’s all about how fast integration can be done. Look for someone who can do it in a seamless way.”

TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce

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