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How to Sell Online in the Philippines

Jul 20, 2020 5:13:08 PM

Filipinos have different paths they can take if they want to start making money online. They can learn to invest, apply for a remote job, become a freelancer, or open up their very own ecommerce store.

Indeed, it is the dream of many Pinoys to sell goods and services without the need for a physical store. Fortunately, with the help of the internet, mobile devices, and computers, this is now easy to do, even from within the comfort of one’s own home.

Why Should You Sell Online?

According to data from eMarketer, global e-commerce sales are projected to reach USD 5 trillion, or around PHP 252 trillion, in 2021. And you may be surprised to know that among all the people in the world, Filipinos are actually some of the biggest spenders when it comes to digital retail.

Part of the reason is that a lot of us now have access to the internet, and we’re hooked on our screens for long periods of time each day.. In fact, there were already 67 million Filipino internet users in 2018 according to United Kingdom-based consultancy firm We Are Social, and they spent an average of 3 hours, 57 minutes each day using social media. At the end of 2017, Filipinos also spent some USD 2.16 billion (PHP 109 billion) paying for products and services online. Indeed, the massive paradigm shift in Filipino buying habits from physical to digital has opened up a new world of possibilities for anyone who wants to sell online.

So how do you start selling and generating an income online? In this post, we’re going to give you valuable information that you can use if you want to sell products using the internet. We’ll also fill you in with some tips on how you can find the buyers to make your business grow.

1. Find Out What You Want to Sell

You might have an idea, even a vague one, about what you want to sell. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading this article. But if you ever want to achieve marked success with ecommerce, you need to be specific. Knowing what goods you actually want to sell will help you determine the best places to sell them in addition to finding your target buyers.

If you have bigger plans in mind than just selling a few household items, clothes, and furniture, then be prepared to do a more comprehensive study. Running a larger ecommerce business means doing more research and shouldering more responsibilities, but it can also mean more profits over the long term.

One of the keys to generating great product ideas for your ecommerce store is using market analysis tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends.

The Google Keyword Planner can help you search for product ideas by telling you what consumers are searching for in the Philippines. Knowing which keywords have the highest search volume also tells you which items people are most interested in at any given moment, whether it’s drones, cameras, or the latest iPhone.

Another tool that’s worth checking out is Google Trends. Instead of the average number of searches, Google Trends provides you with an analysis of the growing (or declining) interest in a particular product over time. You can even see where the majority searches for the product are coming from.

Below is an example of just some of the data you can get from Google Trends using the search term “drones”.

2. Consider Branding Strategies

We’ve all heard of friends and family complain about unreliable sellers, online con artists, and bogus companies. Don’t let the same be said about your brand. Remember, when Filipino online shoppers search for a product, they often want to make sure it is coming from a trustworthy seller.

Several factors can play into how buyers can perceive your brand: your website’s design, your marketing strategy, the quality of your product selections, and perhaps, most important of all, customer service.

Having a competent team of website developers, customer service specialists, and digital marketers can be very advantageous if you want to attract a steady stream of targeted buyers to your ecommerce store.

3. Decide Where to Sell

Option 1: Use Online Selling Platforms

Knowing what you want to sell can make it easier for you to determine where to sell them. Below is a quick list of the different goods Filipinos like to sell and where people tend buy them according to current market behavior:

  • Meals, pastries, desserts: Facebook Marketplace (and lately, Food Panda)
  • Used clothes, household appliances, vehicles, etc.: eBay.ph, Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, and Sulit.ph
  • Ladies’ clothes, cosmetics, skincare products, hair products: Facebook Marketplace, Zalora, Lazada, and Shopee
  • Real estate: Facebook Marketplace, Lamudi, and Zipmatch
  • Gadgets: Lazada, Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, Shopee

Take note that some marketplaces such as eBay.ph don’t have an internal payment system, while others like  Facebook Marketplace also lack the functionality that allows you to  manage invoices. This is sort of disadvantageous because one of the most basic purposes of generating invoices is to help you keep a record of all your sales. Moreover,  it’s also important for accurate record-keeping and tracking the movement of your goods.

PayMaya Digital Invoice can help you in this regard. Even if you don’t have your own website or even if you sell on places like Facebook Marketplace, you’ll be able to bill your customers so long as they also have an email address.

If you want to send an invoice through email, PayMaya has several invoice templates for you to choose from, as well as an option to customize your own. This offers two obvious benefits: you save a lot of time and your customers will always feel like they’re dealing with a professional business.

Selling on Online Selling Platforms: Pros

International or Localized Reach

As long as you follow the rules and regulations within a specific online marketplace and you know how to tweak the visibility of your products (as is the case with Facebook Marketplace), then you can easily generate a nice stream of revenue from purchases made by established shoppers that are already using these shopping platforms.

Low Cost

Many online marketplaces are free to join for most people, and they’ll just take a small percentage for any of your sold items. It’s also quite cheap to sell from such platforms  because you can basically run the business yourself without the need to hire developers. In the case of platforms like Lazada and Shopee, you won’t even normally have to pay for logistics.

Easy-to-Access Customer Data Insights

As an online seller, you need to constantly monitor consumer data and adjust your marketing strategy to reflect those insights. Fortunately, many online marketplaces do provide a wealth of information for their sellers to use.

Selling on Online Selling Platforms: Cons

Lack of Control

The rules you are expected to follow while selling on shopping platforms may limit your means to showcase your products and brand according to the way you want. They also don’t give you a lot of room to experiment with different marketing strategies.

Competition

Because many of these platforms (especially Shopee, Lazada, and Sulit.ph) are very popular with Filipino online consumers, you’ll likely have a hard time setting your products and brand apart from the rest, especially when there are thousands of other sellers doing business in the same place and selling similar products.

Fees

Although your revenue is sure to increase by selling on shopping platforms, it can come with fees. Fortunately, there is a way for you to keep more of the profits, and that’s by going with Option 2 below.

Option 2: Create Your Own Ecommerce Website

Whether you’re an artist making your own products to sell, a company that wants to showcase your proprietary merchandise, or someone who wants to succeed at dropshipping, you can achieve a lot more with your own ecommerce website.

Your website will act as the backbone of your online business. It’s where people can go to find out more about your brand and your products. It’s also a place for you to experiment with different website layouts and elements to optimize your buyers’ online experience. Fortunately for you, there is a wealth of resources out there that you can employ to your advantage. For example, ecommerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify, or WooCommerce were specifically designed to streamline the creation of ecommerce websites. However, it is important to note that each of them come with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Magento

You’ll find a lot of the world’s leading brands such as Nike, Ford, and Coca-Cola on this platform. And since they rolled out Magento 2, the platform has become even more popular with its enhanced features and better performance.

Indeed, there’s no doubt that the platform is robust and feature-rich. However, it is also more complex, more costly, has a higher learning curve, and will usually require you to work with a developer that specializes in the platform.

WooCommerce

Technically, WooCommerce is a plugin to WordPress, but people widely regard it as an ecommerce platform in and of itself because it functions the same way.

WooCommerce’s number one feature is convenience, which is why most ecommerce stores you’ll  encounter use it. In fact, there are more WooCommerce users than Magento and Shopify users put together. Not only is it easy to use, but you also get to choose from tens of thousands of plugins that can make your site more professional, optimized, and user experience-oriented.

But what are the downsides to using this platform? Well, WooCommerce is still a plugin, so you still need hosting and you still need to invest in securing the site yourself. If you do go with WooCommerce, just make sure to work with a developer who knows how to maintain and optimize your site for speed and functionality.

Shopify

With over 600 easy-to-install themes and different affordable payment plans to choose from, Shopify is a solid choice if you don’t have a lot of technical skills.

Shopify mostly attracts small- and medium-sized businesses. It’s user-friendly, you can get technical (if you want to), and it’s less costly to maintain than WooCommerce and Magento. Overall, it’s the quickest way for you to set up shop.

As is the case with many simplified platforms, Shopify doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility. You also won’t get a lot of helpful features if you need to scale up your ecommerce business, which is why larger companies favor Magento and WooCommerce.

PayMaya Is Available on Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce

The good news is that you can use the PayMaya plug-in with any of the three platforms mentioned above. This means that no matter which platform you’re using to run your ecommerce site, your  customers will have an easy time selecting the payment method of their choice and paying for the products on a secure channel.

You can find easy-to-follow instructions on how to activate the PayMaya check-out plugin on the following pages:

4. Sort Out Logistics

Selling and delivering your products to your friends and neighbors is one thing, but owning an online business with a nationwide customer base is an entirely different ballgame. For this, you need the help of logistics companies and services such as Lalamove, Entrego, LBC, 2Go Express, Transportify, and Air21

On the other hand, if you own a restaurant, cafeteria, or any kind of food business and would like to sell online, you can also work with food delivery service providers such as Foodpanda and GrabFood. Each company has its own app where people can easily choose from your available dishes, have the orders picked up from your establishment, and have them delivered right to their doorstep. Talk about convenience!

5. Learn How to Market your Brand and Products

Online marketing should be an important part of your overall business plan. It helps you build brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately drive more sales. You can use different strategies, but the most popular ones used right now for ecommerce businesses are social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, PPC, and SEO.You’ll have to do your homework about each of these if you want to get the best results.

You should also learn about retargeting, upselling, and cross-selling. The re-targeting strategy focuses on marketing to people who already showed interest in your business or products but just need a little more motivation in order to push through with an order. Upselling, on the other hand, is all about encouraging buyers to get a better (and often, more expensive) product than the one they’re currently looking at. Finally, cross-selling is all about suggesting related or complementary items that go with the product they bought or want to buy.

Depending on which platform you use, you may have limited options for what you are actually able to do in terms of incorporating these strategies. However, whichever strategy you do end up using, make sure to experiment consistently and adjust accordingly. You need to find the perfect marketing mix that works for YOU.

Takeaway

While starting your own business and selling online is not always as glamorous as some people make it out to be, it can be very rewarding and profitable nevertheless. As long as you are passionate about the products you’re selling, can find the right place to sell them, and continuously provide customers a stellar buying experience, it is possible for you to achieve great success selling online in the Philippines.