03 August 2020

Published also in Business Mirror

Consumer behavior is evolving because of the Covid-19 pandemic and digital transformation is the way for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to adapt to the new situation, according to Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) Director Senen M. Perlada.

Perlada was a panelist in the National MSME Week’s final session on “Riding the Wave of Digital Transformation for Sustainable Enterprises” on  July 24, 2020.

The chief executive of DTI’s export marketing arm said that consumers are now switching to the consumption of essentials to suit their new homebody, or cocooning lifestyles.

“All businesses must refocus digital efforts toward changing customer expectations. The digital economy is a departure from the traditional zero-sum-game business model with its focus on shared value creation,” he said.

“The best business model is developed on global best practices but deeply rooted in local consumer insights. Companies that master ‘glocalization’ and personalization will be the winners in the new market space,” Perlada added.

He pointed out that there are four steps to digital transformation, according to Cobena Business Analytics and Strategy. First is putting information in digital format, then digitalization of processes, next creating digital businesses via e-commerce, and last, creating business strategies for the digital environment.

DTI-EMB works closely with the DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps and the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers to find new markets for exporters.

For instance, the bureau will hold online business-matching sessions for the US on August 7, Latin America on August 12, and China on August 20 as part of the Guangzhou World Agricultural Expo.

The bureau is also onboarding more MSMEs on the e-commerce platform eCFULFILL so they can sell their products on Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

As of  July 25, DTI-EMB has onboarded 30 companies with 60 more for onboarding.

Other panelists in the webinar were Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Director Ma. Aida Yuvienco, Lazada  Chief Executive Officer Ray Alimurung, Globe Telecom E-Commerce Head Mark Joseph Panganiban, Happy Skin cofounder Rissa Mananquil Trillo, and Leadmore Development Center Chairman and best-selling author Francisco “Dean Pax” Lapid.

They talked about their initiatives to help MSMEs, such as Lazada Fresh that allows the selling and delivery of fresh products in the e-commerce platform.

Globe Telecom’s GCash is easing the transition of the country to a more cashless society through online payments. Meanwhile, Happy Skin is adapting to the decrease in mall traffic through online skin consultations and product deliveries.

Dean Pax Lapid said that online selling is sustainable if MSMEs go through a process, not just to a platform. The digital marketing process, he said, is composed of the following levels: (1) Knows (knowledge of day to day business); (2) Knows How (Competence to troubleshoot day to day business aspects; (3) Shows How (behavior and performance of the business are evident); (4) Does It More (Consciously takes action and passion to excel); and (5) Identity (takes pride on what he/she has become).

The webinar was moderated by Sherill Quintana, president of the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA), and founder of Oryspa Solutions Inc.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion delivered the closing remarks.

“The level of frustration is really high, especially for those businesses who were doing well. Then overnight, their lives have changed. Cash flow has been affected, they have to lay off people, so that’s really depressing. Events such as the MSME Week that the DTI has supported, we need more. We need to encourage people,” said Concepcion.