MANILA, PHILIPPINES — There’s no denying it: the economic landscape has shifted. In light of the global crisis, businesses are urged to rapidly reevaluate numerous factors in order to move forward. Predicaments pervade the business environment wherein; demand has gone askew, sources of revenue are uncertain, and certain supply chains disrupted for good. The reality is that the business landscape has shifted long before the pandemic. It just so happens that Covid-19 has become the greatest catalyst in hastening the recognition of what all of us already knew — that the enterprise of the future will survive and thrive through digital transformation.
So many new forms and faces of #Pabile in such a short time
What was originally described as the purchasing or trading of goods and services using the internet only, eCommerce (eComm) has since evolved to a myriad of possibilities. Currently, the online marketplace landscape gets increasingly tangled by the day. What was once a channel that mostly consisted of B2C and B2B businesses, has now become a complex supply chain. And naturally so — accounts are free to sign up into and access to the internet has become a norm for businesses and consumers alike. What’s more, is the notable growth of C2C segments: an emerging market consisting of chat groups, Facebook groups, Instagram or Viber resellers, and even barter groups.
Even before the grip of the pandemic, these markets have been discretely cropping up catering to niche and novel interests. And in true online disruption form, they have since overwhelmingly grown in number, enabling them to be recognized as a viable marketplace by buyers and sellers alike.
The writing’s on the wall: internet use for buying and selling has become ubiquitous and apparent and opportunities abound in the realm of eCommerce. And yet, ever-shifting consumer mindsets and complex business environments can make the task of adapting an online channel for business seem daunting.
Yes, we’ve all been there
Here are the most common questions we receive from our eCommerce consulting work in the last three years:
- Should I be joining the bandwagon of shops in high-traffic marketplaces or build my own online store? Should I build from scratch or update my existing website with retail functions?
- Which products should I offer online? How should my online prices differ from my current prices?
- Who will handle sales, order management, and after sales for this new channel? Should I upskill my current workforce or should I outsource these tasks?
- For logistics, should I be operating an in-house fleet or find a 3rd party provider?
- What management tools do I need to measure performance?
Aside from these questions, local constraints like internet speed and connectivity, the cost of logistics, the complexity of urban freight distribution vis-a-vis the community geography, and the cultural reluctance to fully embrace cashless payments continue to riddle businesses and further complicate the landscape, but they are nothing a sharp strategy can’t outsmart.
We derived the following key strategic considerations to help get to some answers and guide your plan of action.
Deciding on your source of business: Who will buy… And why?
Businesses and brands come in all shapes and sizes, and each are at different stages in their respective markets. An immediate consideration would be determining if you’re after market penetration versus market development. Are you recruiting new buyers or increasing frequency or weight of purchase among existing ones? By focusing and scoping the scale of your eCommerce project, you are able to guide the other considerations like product mix, service proposition, channels and communication strategy, among other things.
Whether you’re a long-standing business or a new player, it should be of no surprise that the depth of your understanding for your target market will take center stage rather than the width. Take for example in the case of a local fresh produce company serviced by NUWORKS: their intention in developing an online sales channel was to mitigate the drop in sales that they experienced across wet markets, due to the community quarantine measures that were taking place. As the company launched its pilot run, they started to observe that they were entertaining a number of queries for bulk pricing. What was meant to be a way to reach out to their direct customer, brought about the discovery of a different online consumer mindset — that of a reseller. While both types of consumers were after the same product, other considerations and mindsets; like limited income or even loss of jobs came into play, providing a deeper understanding of their market and the opportunities that came with it.
So, take a step back and think about how your business model really translates in an online platform. Your plans for engaging and transacting with them online should take into account the unique set of mindsets, personas, and behavior in the context of eCommerce, and how these mindsets are evolving in the new low touch economy. It’s in understanding these nuances that will help in identifying the online spaces your market occupies and where and how you can meet them.
Deciding on the role of an eCommerce platform in the purchase journey: Are you after Generating or Converting Demand?
Another crucial aspect to define is how you envision your brand’s position in the online experience, regardless of whether you are offering a product or service.
Are you trying to create an aspirational and global brand? A bespoke design for your website/social media that communicates your brand’s products and lifestyle might be the ideal marketing strategy, apart from selectiveness in determining which platforms to be present in. Or are your priorities more focused towards converting demand? Then perhaps a more straightforward online retail store with an easy and functional user interface is what needs to be developed.
Identifying the role of the digital/online channel in your brand’s overall strategy is a crucial step as it allows you to be thoughtful and intentional in your eCommerce experience design and how you measure the success of its implementation.
Deciding on your tech development plan: Are you planning for a Quick Launch or a Long Term Build?
Ideally, you’re doing both. In the short-term, the main factors that need to be determined revolve around practical considerations and key resources.
To help you guide the prioritization for each of the above facets, a commonly used principle in the Tech industry is the concept of the minimum viable product (MVP). The idea is to build out and develop an initial version of the product (usually software) and then release it. It becomes quite cyclic from thereon wherein they iterate, rerelease, reiterate, rinse, repeat. An agile approach for your eCommerce would be to think of the minimum needed to launch a pilot run of your operations– ironing out the must-haves versus the nice-to-haves.
As for the long-term, it’s likely that customers won’t ditch the habit especially with the dawn of the low touch economy. The focus now shifts to efforts like optimizing and upgrading for more seamless processes and improved data collection and analytics to help deepen your understanding of customer behavior.
Let us help you get started!
Clearly eCommerce is a massive opportunity to have that always-on, 24/7 purchase channel. It isn’t too late and there are ways to make launching simply and quickly possible! At NUWORKS, we meet businesses and client partners wherever they are in their digital transformation and eCommerce journey. Our eCommerce solutions are designed to carve out a clear growth path, working with the unique Filipino culture, context, and landscape constraints. We’re all about intentional design and meaningful human experiences that connect businesses and people.
If you are interested to talk, reimagine, and build things together, contact Patricia Bautista Saez, NUWORKS Client Services Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit ecommerce.nuworks.ph to learn more about our creative, data, and tech-powered growth hacks in the brave new world of #Pabile.