By Hannah Mallorca, Features Writer, The Philippine STAR

The growth of many e-commerce platforms is the effect of transition from traditional shopping channels to online platforms during quarantine

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused the rise and fall of several industries worldwide. Even though e-commerce platforms have long been on the rise, the process was fast-tracked when quarantine guidelines were put into place.

With the absence of traditional shopping channels, customers have flocked to e-commerce platforms to secure purchases and transactions. Many stores and restaurants have also transitioned online to serve their target market.

To discuss the current state of online selling in the new normal, The Philippine STAR’s Career Guide shared insights on the progress of e-commerce platforms and other online means during this time.

The online discussion featured Entrego retail director Xervin Maulanin, PurpleBug Inc. president and CEO Marlon Gonzales, La Carnita Modern Mexican Cantina co-founder Lenlen Mesina, Lazada Philippines head of business development Petrus Carbonell, and Seven Days of Greens co-founder Roel Uy Chan.

Growth of e-commerce platforms

Even though various e-commerce platforms were established pre-pandemic, its identity strengthened since the start of quarantine. Mr. Carbonell shared that Lazada has witnessed significant growth.

“So far, we see a lot of demand. We’re also seeing people who are more interested in starting their businesses online,” he added. “I think this will continue even after quarantine and if you think about it, these trends have always been present. Ang nangyari lang ngayong quarantine, na-accelerate siya.”

According to Mr. Carbonell, some of the most popular products in Lazada’s platform are groceries, medical items, and ready-to-eat products.

Mr. Maulanin noted that the transition from traditional shopping methods into online has pushed e-commerce platforms to sell more essential goods and daily needs. He added that delivery personnel are also considered as frontliners due to their service during the quarantine.

Lumalaki ang volume natin compared to before. We’re still a long way to go before online shopping becomes the predominant channel for us, but I think we’re going to see a lot of acceleration there. We’re very excited to see ano’ng magiging trend nito,” he said.

Transitioning from traditional shopping methods to online

The pandemic has caused many businesses to transition to online to cater to its customers. Many restaurants have also moved towards delivery services to serve their target market.

According to Ms. Mesina, proper research and development are needed to ensure the quality of Cantina’s products even in the new normal.

“At the moment, what we’re trying to do, instead of dispensing or distributing the product, we had to come up with product lines that can be experienced by the customers in the comfort of their homes, that’s why we really value the support and the service of third-party suppliers when it comes to delivery,” she shared.

Ms. Mesina also noted that the quarantine is an opportunity for many businesses to understand how to navigate into e-commerce and to incorporate online payments.

“You need to make sure that you’re able to deliver what you’re promising to your online market and that the product is available from you. It’s also not just being available, the products must be consistent and of very good quality kasi ‘yun ‘yung magiging labanan when it comes to online selling,” she added.

On the other hand, Mr. Gonzales said that quarantine has challenged e-commerce platforms, restaurants and other online sellers to develop its services since it will reflect on customers.

“People will always buy if maganda ‘yung feedback na makikita nila. What we’ve noticed din karamihan ng returning customers namin are referrals so very important ‘yung feedback na nakikita nila online,” he said.

Mr. Uy Chan stated that the new normal has also urged online sellers, e-commerce platforms and restaurants to refine collaboration methods with its partner channels to ensure quality service.

“The principle behind online selling is still intact and similar to traditional selling wherever you go. It’s still just a channel,” he added.

In addition, Mr. Carbonell noted that e-commerce platforms and online sellers would continue to grow, even in a post-pandemic society.

“In terms of the potential of people reaching success, I would say that the sky is the limit because we see new millionaire sellers every time that we run a campaign. I’m not saying that everyone who goes online will be successful, but we see many cases that the potential is huge,” he said.

Online selling platforms have witnessed significant growth in customer behavior during the pandemic. With this, it’s up to business sectors to improve its services to ensure loyalty among its target market.