E-commerce is undoubtedly in a boom and is one line of business that has benefited, rather than lost out, in the COVID-19 situation. In the Philippines alone, the e-commerce business has grown 55% throughout 2020, owing to the restrictions in place that compelled people to find new ways to fulfill their shopping needs.
It’s not without its own set of challenges, however. When we spoke to online store owners trying to run a successful e-commerce business in the Philippines, one thing that was clear is that operations are the biggest hurdle to overcome. The infrastructure for payments and logistics in the country is clearly not as mature as it is in others. Likewise, the Philippine market is not quite as open to transacting online as many still prefer to speak to an actual person to process their orders.
All of this means that you need to spend considerable effort to make your online business run smoothly. However, it definitely doesn’t mean that running an e-commerce business in the Philippines is impossible. Many have done it well and have thrived in this space. So what’s the secret?
From our own experience and observations of successful e-commerce businesses in the Philippine market, here are a few tips on how you can operate your online store more smoothly in this challenging market.
1. Integrate with Facebook and Instagram Shops.
The Philippines is the social media capital of the world. That said, you would be missing out on a huge audience if you aren’t integrating your online store with Facebook and Instagram. There are several aspects to consider – Facebook pixel for advertising, messenger chat box on your website, and more. But the biggest and first step you can take is to integrate your website’s catalog with Facebook Shops. This allows you to manage inventory from one place and also gives you a rich tool set to easily share, promote, and advertise your products on Facebook.
80Commerce’s basic online store package includes Facebook and Instagram Shops integration. Manage your catalog on your site and have it automatically reflect on your social media pages. Read more about our social media integration features here.
2. Offer GCash, bank deposit, and wire transfer options.
While credit cards are a very convenient option for online shopping, a lot of Philippine customers either do not have cards at all or are uncomfortable using them online. There are definitely better options that are more popular and more specific to the Philippine market. In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, GCash for one reported a 150% increase in their user base. This payment method’s accessibility and market share makes it an essential option for you to integrate into your store if you hope to increase your cashless payment transactions locally.
At the same time, traditionally popular payment options in the Philippines also include bank deposit and wire transfer. With 80Commerce’s online store platform, you have two options to support this. You can publish your bank and wire transfer details on the checkout page and order email notifications and manually verify payments. If you prefer to have these payments automatically verified at the price of a small fee, however, options such as DragonPay and Bux allow you to do just that.
Have a wide range of payment options available for your customers – at 80Commerce, we support GCash, DragonPay, Bux, and other popular payment options in the Philippines. Read more about these features here.
3. Offer discounts.
While there have been leaps in the Philippine market’s willingness to shop online, it’s undeniable that people can still feel wary and uncomfortable about transacting online. There are a variety of reasons for this. Without being actually able to check the item ourselves, there’s an understandable worry that it ends up being not up to par with what we need. Likewise, sending money to someone you have never seen face to face is always nervewracking.
That said, it’s very important for you to give an incentive to customers to try out your online store. Discounts are a great way to accomplish this – everyone loves a good deal! Of course, discounts and promos are only helpful if people know about it, so be loud about what you’re offering, whether it’s on social media, offline, or through word of mouth.
Discount coupons management is part of our basic e-commerce features at 80Commerce. Check out the rest of our e-commerce features here.
4. Offer flat rate shipping, if possible.
It’s undeniable that the logistics situation can be a nightmare in the Philippines, especially for a small operation. There is no gold standard to how shipping is calculated, it all depends on each provider and the variance can be huge. Digital integrations with service providers are also almost non-existent or inaccessible. Likewise, shipping within one city is a completely different challenge from shipping to other places in the country.
Long story short, logistics is one area (along with payments) where global e-commerce best practices do not easily translate in the Philippine setting.
Our advise may be controversial, but this is what we’ve learned from our own experience – if you can offer flat rate shipping, do it. This saves you a lot of headaches coordinating prices and calculations, and this makes for a much smoother checkout experience for your customers. This applies mainly for intra-city delivery wherein courier services are typically distance-based. You can offer flat rate shipping at a higher-than-average cost so it leaves little chance to eat up your margins. Grab also recently launched its “same day delivery” service which offers fixed rates depending on certain boundaries, which is a great option to provide a straightforward shipping calculation.
Free shipping options and flat rate shipping are available by default in our basic online store package. Still prefer to do distance-based shipping calculation? 80Commerce supports that as well, with our distance-based shipping add-on. You can check out the pricing here.