The pandemic has definitely changed the way of life for everyone, especially for businesses. But Filipinos have always been a resilient bunch, especially during times of crisis. Since the onslaught of the quarantine measures, the platform has been onboarding over 3x more sellers daily. We take a look at some stories of entrepreneurs who have found a fresh start through eCommerce, as well as online sellers getting a second chance at success.
From the fridge to your doorstep
Gone are the days when the only place to get fresh fruits, meat, and vegetables were at your local markets. Nowadays, technology makes it easier for consumers to shop for fresh ingredients with a few taps on their phones. Modern entrepreneurs now use this technology to their advantage, pivoting their businesses to take on new strategies and helping them bounce back from the challenges brought about by the pandemic. With the launch of Lazada Fresh last May, the platform has enabled customers to easily source their favorite fresh and frozen products online, as well as sellers, to easily deliver their products straight to their customer’s homes.
Zarina and Mac Dejayco started their business Zupafresh way back in 2004, with a small stall located at the old Mega-Q Mart in Manila.
The couple had always been adventurous with their business and are always willing to try something new. They noticed a few other vendors would post their wares for sale on Facebook, and wanted to take a stab at marketing their fresh produce products on the platform as well in 2016.
“We were one of the first to try selling fresh wares online. With God’s goodness, we saw the interest for our products grow overtime and we eventually collected a growing pool of regular customers,” Zarina shared. Among these were a commissary who supplies meals for commercial airlines, a top-rated vegetarian restaurant, and a popular Manila buffet chain.
Business was quickly picking up for the couple when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. The imposed lockdowns impacted their sales greatly, as all of their clients pulled out their orders due to operation restrictions.
“It was very difficult for us during those first few weeks of the lockdown. Almost no one visited the market out of fear of contracting the virus in public. There was a day where we only earned around Php 1,000, and we still had to deduct our rent and payments for our space at the market from that,” said Zarina.
The couple had to think quickly as they were dipping into their savings to save the business. Trying to find more plausible solutions, they looked at selling on Lazada and officially onboarded their business in May 2020.
In just a few short weeks, business quickly picked up again for the couple. From earning just over Php 2,000 pre-lockdowns at their space in the market, their online sales saw them earning at least Php 10,000 daily.
“We found it so much easier to sell on Lazada than at the public market. We took a few introductory lessons through Lazada’s resources on Lazada University to learn the ropes and tools needed and uploaded our products on our online store. We were amazed to see how fast we were able to attract customers on the platform,” said Zarina.
The couple also found the technology on the app helpful, as they were able to find ways to better market their products to customers.
“Things like joining sales campaigns and using livestream really helped us boost our sales. It was such a new concept to us, but [these] taught us how to better market our brand and grow our presence and audience on the platform,” Zarina shares.
Meanwhile, Carmela Cancio-Go has always approached her business with a modern flair, putting up The Superfood Grocer in 2013 through a website and social media channels. Carmina’s selection of healthy super foods like chia seeds, maca powder, and quinoa became such big hits with her customers, she eventually found herself expanding the business to distribute in over 100 supermarkets nationwide.
Like many other businesses, Carmela hit a hump once the pandemic situation worsened in the country. Seeing the opportunity to drive more sales of her products, she signed The Superfood Grocer onto Lazada in May 2020.
Since onboarding on the platform, Carmela saw a significant increase in her sales, even with the restrictions of community quarantines still in place.
“We are quite blessed to still find success with our business even with the current circumstances,” shares Carmela. “I’m also thankful that through Lazada, we were able to present our products to a wider audience and expand our business to cater to a different demographic from our usual customers.”
Almost all of Carmela’s products gained popularity with a growing consumer market on the platform, especially their brand’s line of healthy dairy-free ice creams, also a first on the platform.
Quickly pivoting the usual brick and mortar businesses online is still a new concept, but Carmela, Zarina and Mac are thankful that they didn’t have to go into it like a deer in headlights.
“I found it easy to quickly adapt my business on a big eCommerce platform like Lazada as there is a robust back-end support system. I’m also thankful for the business development managers that have been nothing short of exceptional, providing us with guidance in every step of the way as we learned the ropes of the platform,” Carmela shares.
Zarina shares that the secret to build a successful business is to take that first step. “To other sellers looking to go into selling online, don’t be scared. There is more to gain than to lose; don’t be afraid of bringing your ideas to life and stepping out of your comfort zone. Making mistakes are a part of doing business – it takes patience and passion, plus a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, to build a successful business,” she shares.
Re-starting business through Lazada Bounce Back Together
Aside from providing traditional brick and mortar businesses an avenue to pivot sales to digital channels, Lazada has also extended a hand to existing sellers on the platform who have been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic. Through the Lazada Bounce Back Together program rolled out in April, over 7,000 sellers have been extended help and aid to help their businesses recover and bounce back.
With the program’s objective of helping uplift businesses, the Lazada Bounce Back together program also integrated learning sessions that not only taught entrepreneurs how to navigate the changing landscape, but also on how to keep a sound and healthy state of mind during these challenging times.
Joseph Aquino, owner of JJ General Merchandise, said that the program has definitely helped him improve his strategies to better enhance sales in his store.
“Through the tools we acquired with the program benefits, we were able to provide free shipping voucher to customers, which increased our sales volume by 10x. We also saw it as a way for us to help our customers by providing them their needs at a lowered cost,” says Joseph.
Meanwhile, Kristine Felizardo of pet care store Paws Inside was able to utilize tips and tricks learned from the sessions to improve marketing and target more customers
“I utilized my benefits to help improve our store’s look and brand. It helped Paws Inside greatly as our business looked more professional and attracted our target audience – the pet lovers on the platform. With this improvement, we earned our typical monthly sales in just a week,” says Kristine.
In the ever-shifting COVID-19 world, businesses scramble to keep afloat. As the choice of shutting down or staying resilient remains a looming question, it’s important to remember that they’re not alone in their struggle. Like these sellers, businesses have to resort to more creative avenues in order to thrive.
“At Lazada, empowering local businesses to maximize their online potential is at the heart of what we do. We want businesses to know that we are here to collaborate with them. Sellers can take full advantage of our technology and logistics capabilities to take their business further. We also have programs that help businesses develop a digital strategy to answer current market demands. We’re experiencing unprecedented circumstances but there are still opportunities to come out stronger than ever before. Let’s support one another to bounce back!,” says Lazada Philippines CEO Ray Alimurung.