GLOBAL shipping and logistics services firm United Parcel Service (UPS) Philippines has advised micro, small and medium enterprises to pivot, get data, go digital and consider international shipping.
In a recent webinar that was in partnership with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UPS managing director for Philippines and Indonesia, Chris Buono said if business opportunities have become scarce, entrepreneurs need to pivot their business models.
“In the face of physical store closures, e-commerce has emerged as the way forward for businesses, as new digital technologies change the playing field and the speed with which companies can and must react,” he said.
Buono said some forecasters have even estimated that the pandemic has brought forward the growth of e-commerce’s share of retail by two to three years.
“In pivoting your business to e-commerce, logistics needs to support that shift from production to warehousing and inventory management to fulfillment,” he said.
SMEs should consider a business model that works best for them, whether a purely online model or maintaining a hybrid omni-channel model. Whichever form this takes, supply chains and distribution channels will need to be reconfigured.
Buono said over the last few months, the SMEs that were able to continue operating with fewer disruptions have been those with a “digital first” approach, establishing their sales channels through different platforms, including their own websites, Facebook, Instagram, and market sellers like Lazada or Shopee.
Of the businesses that UPS Philippines surveyed, 75 percent of SMEs are either in the process of transforming their business to go digital or they intend to go digital, but don’t know yet where to start.
“This should serve as a strong signal to business owners who have not yet embraced digitalization to consider transforming their businesses to be more future proof,” he said.
Data insights can also help SMEs make decisions that would enable their businesses to grow.
Data can also be used to identify potential export markets.
One example is the use of web-based analytics to identify where visitors of a website are located, indicating potential demand for Philippine-made products.
In addition, Buono said one harsh reality that businesses must face is the increasingly competitive and crowded e-commerce market, and the corresponding need to stand out with the right tools.
“Customer experience is the name of the game in e-commerce, and when SMEs get it right, they will be able to grow the business and build loyalty.
While e-commerce offers SMEs the opportunity to expand their customer base beyond domestic audiences, Buono said some may find the meshwork of regulations, duties and taxes in international shipping to be complex or unpredictable at times.
However, with the right information and access to support from the experts, they can easily export or import products. / JOB