LIST: E-commerce player shares tips on running a successful online store

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — Adapt or perish has been the mantra for businesses looking to sustain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With people still wary of heading out to shop and dine, most stores have been forced to take their businesses online to keep their sales going. Early birds to the e-commerce revolution are benefiting, but that doesn't mean that new digital migrants cannot catch up.

Steve Sy, founder and chief executive officer of e-commerce enabler Great Deals, had several tips to share for those looking to move to virtual shops.

Start early

According to Sy, it takes between four to six weeks to set up a robust e-commerce store. Time is of the essence especially for struggling firms.

"Right now, being digital is the key to survive this pandemic," he said. However, he added that smaller firms looking to launch quickly do not have to complete the full nine yards of crafting their own website, social media pages, online payment gateway, and shipment channel.

Tap online selling platforms

Sy described the likes of Lazada and Shopee as "low-hanging fruit" where businesses can start selling their goods in a jiffy.

These marketplace platforms allow a seller to sign up and upload their products in one day and be ready for customers the next day, with an established traffic of customers already within reach, Sy said. It's not as expensive too – the Great Deals executive said the platforms mostly collect a fee worth 5 percent of lower of a store's sales.

If selling via social media, a good strategy would be to join Facebook groups to tap communities, especially a brand's target market. This will also boost traffic to the brand's official pages.

Content is king

Much like physical stores, the stars of an establishment should still be their quality products. Once the online business is up and running, Sy advises to fill up the page or profile with great content, especially realistic photos of the products.

Good chat support can also make or break sales. "When people ask 'how much po,' the response rate should be as fast as you can," he said.

Sy said consumer spending is likely to sustain its recovery closer to the Christmas season –– easily the most wonderful time of the year for Filipinos. Lockdowns and job losses aside, he said there are still hints that people are eager to spend and shop, as seen in the recent 9.9 online shopping megasale.

"I believe e-commerce is the silver lining during this pandemic," Sy added. "Definitely, I have high hopes for the Christmas season. Ang Filipino culture is always very generous. People will just save at importante 'yung mga anak nila, may new dress or new shoes for Christmas."