03 May 2020

Published also in Business Mirror

Businesses should look at market spaces, like online platforms, more than geographic spaces, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, said Senen M. Perlada, director of the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) during a webinar held on April 22 dubbed, “Market Adjustments and Sustainability: Where do We Sell from Here?”

“If there’s one thing that the enhanced community quarantine [ECQ] taught us, it’s that we can explore the possibilities in the digital space,” said Perlada.

Fellow panelists in the fourth episode of #ResilienceandRecoveryPH e-forum series include Roberto Amores, president of the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization; Sherill Quintana, president of the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA); and Janette Toral, a digital influencer, coach, and trainer. Philippine Exporters Conferederation Inc. (Philexport). Assistant Vice President Ma. Flordeliza Cusi-Leong moderated the discussion.

“We are now driven to accelerate our digital transformation. To thrive during this time, businesses should strengthen their online-to-offline platforms. Customers can buy online and then just have their orders for pickup, or delivery,” he added.

Perlada also suggested the power of a good narrative in products. He cited the viral Facebook post last  March 11, 2020, that sold 1,600 kilograms of mangoes en route to Manila for the National Food Fair.

Aside from being present in online marketplaces, he said that all businesses should have their own web site. Citing the results of a recent survey conducted by the DTI-EMB, Perlada said that only 40 percent of exporters have a web site.

“Not having a web site is okay if you’re selling products, or services, domestically. But it is unacceptable if you are exporting to other countries,” he said.

Perlada admitted that Philippine exports will decline due to the pandemic. “We will get there again, but the focus is domestic,” he explained.  On the other hand, he shared that sectors like agriculture, health care, logistics, and financial services stand to grow during this quarter.

In terms of export markets, he said that China and South Korea are slowly getting back on track and that exporters to US are most affected.

The demand for electronics exports is still high, as the demand for health-care devices skyrocket.

The e-forum was organized by the Philexport, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop), Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Digital shift

Companies affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic are advised to turn to digital marketing to ride out the pandemic as they also prepare for long-term disruption.

“Explore possible online solutions for marketing strategies and delivery of goods. Explore the possibility of having your goods delivered through fast courier delivery services,” the PDRF said.

It said they need to continue communicating with their customers and suppliers to inform them of their business plans, and to let them know how they can still purchase goods or ask for their services “Inform your customers about changes in your business operations,” it added.

“Be ready to answer questions, or inquiries, from your customers.” PDRF said coronavirus-affected firms also need to maintain a contact list of alternative suppliers and connect with other enterprise owners or business associations and look for ways of supporting one another.

They can also utilize communication channels, such as social media, to share how Covid-19 has impacted their businesses to give key stakeholders—government agencies and private sector actors—ideas on “how they can help,” it added.

PDRF also urged firms to monitor their finances and prepare for long-term disruption.

“Research on available economic packages and services from government agencies and private sector providers,” it added, underscoring the need to also explore e-commerce and other online banking solutions. It, likewise, advised them to enroll in online courses and join webinars that help increase their business resilience, and enable them to adapt to business disruptions more efficiently.