By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the retail landscape and brick and mortar vendors quickly adopt as they switched to online processing of orders and connecting to last mile logistics providers to serve strong demand.
Even micro enterprises like neighborhood bakeries were forced to innovate to connect to buyers. At first it was a trial and error, but delivery platforms eventually latched on.
Thus, during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) most of those on the road are motorcycle riders bringing orders, mostly food, and meeting recipients at the nearest checkpoints.
The Philippine E-Commerce Roadmap (PECR) 2015-2020 launched in 2016 is deemed critical in addressing challenges encountered by various sectors as e-commerce becomes prevalent in our daily lives and business operations. It focused on needed policies and programs to solve present challenges, in implementing ecommerce in the country, including policies and programs to gear up our e-commerce players, particularly the MSMEs, for cross-border ecommerce.
The primary objective of the PECR is for e-commerce to contribute 25 percent to the country’s GDP by 2020 from 10 percent in 2015. The roadmap also identified 5 criteria for a successful e-commerce. These are 100,000 MSMEs doing e-commerce, 40-50 percent of Internet users doing e-commerce, fast and competitive Internet access, cybercrime enforcement and protection, and online and connected government.
But these targets may have been obsolete as MSMEs drastically jumped into the e-commerce during the quarantine period. Long before the COVID-19, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez already set targetted to have 500,000 MSMEs engaged in e-commerce by 2022, five times the projected figure for 2020.
By 2022, Lopez said e-commerce activities would possibly account for half of the country’s economy, noting that “the shift to the digital platform was just around the corner.”
During the ECQ period, stateowned Center for International Trade, Exhibitions, and Missions (CITEM), partnered with the Department of Trade Industry’s Bayanihan initiative to bring “CTRL + BIZ: Reboot Now!” sessions. Topics discussed include “Converting your Retail Business to Online,”, “Masterclass: Converting your Retail Business to Online Amidst COVID19”, “How to Transform your Business Through E-Commerce”, “Tips to Successful Online Selling” and, “Building Your Online Presence with Facebook”.
The initiative was a series of FREE webinars from April 29 to May 2, 2020 for MSMEs, who need to transform their business digitally. Partners across the entire E-Commerce ecosystem provided their expertise and experiences on how to take advantage of the digital space.
On the session “Converting your Retail Business to Online,” a speaker emphasized that reviews of your service and product are a big part of the trust-building process.
With consumers having so many options in the market, building trust between your business and your customers is vital.