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#CommuniCart: How to make your business stand out with your own online store

Julian Cirineo
#CommuniCart: How to make your business stand out with your own online store
Online marketplaces are oversaturated. Here's how you can build your own storefront and brand.

Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by PLDT Enterprise and was produced by BrandRap, the sales and marketing arm of Rappler. No member of the news and editorial team participated in the production of this piece.

The online world is as exciting as ever, especially since people have become more technologically savvy after two years of working from home, socializing through Zoom calls, and shopping online. The internet has never been filled with so much zest and creativity, especially in the e-commerce space.

But as more businesses go online, how do entrepreneurs compete in saturated and crowded spaces? And where is e-commerce likely headed next? To help us learn more about maximizing online presence, we spoke to two business owners – Andrew Magana of Typica Coffee and Leonard Chad Nimor of The No Good Crew

We also learn about how they are planning to innovate, and how you can do the same with the help of Multistore – PLDT Enterprise Beyond Fiber’s newest Curated Digital Solution. This is an eCommerce tool that enables small business owners to easily build their own online storefront.

Start with your branding

The most basic yet fundamental element that will help you thrive online is understanding your own branding and building from it. For Typica Coffee and The No Good Crew, part of this is having a strong creative visual identity.

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In the case of Typica Coffee, this sari-sari store turned into a Japanese-inspired coffee counter uses a blend of being straightforward with a touch of curiosity as one of its core principles. Its founder Drew Magana explains.

BARISTA OWNER. Andrew Magana started with a “sari-sari” store coffee counter, but now also owns a specialty coffee bar called Kodawari

Meanwhile, The No Good Crew’s CEO and owner Chad Nimor shares that for him, part of running a fashion label is understanding your customers. “Consider kung ano yung taste ng market niyo. You have to get to know them more. The idea is not to give them what they want. The idea is to create something that they would want,” he shared.

Once you’ve identified your brand, you can strategize all the different parts of your business afterwards.

Choosing a platform

Both Typica Coffee and The No Good Crew have their own physical stores. Typica Coffee is located in Taytay, Rizal, while The No Good Crew has a shop in Cubao and their flagship store in Cebu. But the pandemic helped the two entrepreneurs realize how impactful online presence can be, whether on social media or online marketplaces.

For Magana, Typica Coffee’s reach expanded exponentially when he started posting about his business on social media, eventually gaining virality through influencers and media outlets sharing his story. He even proudly shares that he hasn’t spent on boosted posts or ads, but is now making sure he carries on the momentum and has opened up his shop for online deliveries through food delivery apps.

COFFEE COUNTER. Typica Coffee introduced affordable specialty coffees in Rizal and has since then expanded by hosting events, classes, and more.

The No Good Crew on the other hand was initially hit hard by the pandemic, especially since the first few months put a halt to a lot of their shipping and deliveries. Then three months into the pandemic, they began receiving a lot of orders through e-commerce platforms. Nimor says that as a fashion brand, they weren’t expecting people to buy their pieces but were delighted to find out that people still wanted to dress well even at home.

One point that Magana and Nimor agree on is that, while they already have different platforms that they use for reach and sales, having their own website or storefront will also be beneficial. With a space in the interwebs of their own, they’ll be able to not only attract new customers but also have total control over what shows up on their pages.

Customizing your storefront

Their shared interest in having their own storefront comes from how they feel restricted by what social media sites and e-commerce platforms offer when it comes to branding their pages. Magana also thinks that having to scroll through social media profiles is too troublesome especially if you’re looking for specific information as opposed to having a storefront you can customize.

Meanwhile, Nimor thinks that e-commerce marketplaces are too focused on products so there’s little opportunity to inject creativity into your pages. Not to mention both marketplaces and social media sites are also filled with other businesses competing over attention.

FUNCTIONAL FASHION. After collaborating with numerous Cebu-based creatives, The No Good Crew finally released their first unique collection on March 2022.

For those who want to have a stronger branding presence, the key is to have their own website or digital storefront. This is where PLDT Enterprise’s Multistore can help you. With your own digital storefront, you’re given control over how it looks – the store layout, the color scheme and the photos to put upfront – without all the technical fuss.

Having control over transactions

Magana also says having your own storefront is an opportunity to consolidate products you are selling, explaining that most delivery apps will have separate buttons for food or items. He says that food businesses that also sell merchandise on the side can’t put items of different categories together, so customers who want to buy pour-over devices or shirts will have to book a second delivery if they’re ordering drinks too.

Transaction fees can also be quite pricey, adds Nimor, explaining that for most delivery or e-commerce sites, a cut is taken away by the platform for every purchase. “Like for a shirt na 700 pesos, minsan the cut is a hundred. That’s big,” he shared.

So if you’re considering offering your products online, Multistore allows you to sell without taking a cut on your transactions. With zero platform transaction fees, it allows you to do unlimited transactions and sell unlimited products at no additional cost.

It’s also interesting to note that the Multistore comes with nearly 20 ready-to-use, local payment methods and logistics options for you and your customers. This means that you can now immediately accept ePayments and Cash On delivery (COD), plus offer same-day delivery, scheduled delivery and even store pick-up to your customers on day one. You also have control over which payment channels or delivery partners you will enable, and with just a few clicks too. Plus, revenues can be remitted to your account as early as the next business day.

Understanding your cash flow

“It is important to know the ins and outs of your cash flow, so you have to familiarize yourself with that. You have to know when the money comes in. This is budget and sales forecasting,” shared Nimor when asked about challenges in running a business.

CEBU FASHION. Leonard Chad Nimor started The No Good Crew to revive his brother’s fashion brand, Nick Automatic, but has since then grown the business by collaborating with other creatives in Cebu.

Nimor explains that the way he approaches cash flow is by determining a pattern on how his customers behave whenever they launch a new product. By taking careful stock of which items sell, when, and by how much, he is able to better control their spending.

While Nimor says his main advantage is studying finance in college, a good starting point if you’re struggling with analyzing your business’s cash flow is through the dashboard that the Multistore offers.

Multistore’s all-in-one dashboard gives you a quick overview of all of your inventory, even across all branches if you have more than one. Here, you can easily keep track of products and sales without having to swivel into other apps, and hopefully help you identify a pattern or understand how to better serve your customers.

Growing online and offline

Being online was a key to Typica Coffee and The No Good Crew’s success. Typica Coffee is now about to open their business for franchising, while The No Good Crew recently released their first unique collection and are about to start more collaborations with different craftsmen in Cebu.

“It’s really important to be out there because how many millions of people are there in the Philippines and imagine the scale of your business. The scale of my business right now hasn’t even tapped 5% of the population yet. And if you just tapped that 5% through online presence, through adapting to the technology and adapting to the algorithm, that is one thing to consider,” shared Nimor.

And at the end of the day, a digital storefront, much like your branding, is how you want your customers to see your business, and it will come to a point where relying on marketplace platforms or social media profiles may not be enough.

By owning and carving your own corner of the internet with Multistore through PLDT Enterprise, you’re able to present your brand the way you want to while having the capabilities to operate and manage your business.

Sign up for Multistore now and get free access to the platform for 90 days and rev up your business’s multi-channel reach. – Rappler.com