MANILA, Philippines — Smaller businesses tend to hesitate when it comes to availing of digital solutions, with cost being the number one challenge. But with e-commerce continuing to boom, many have become more open and willing to shift their paper-based processes to digital ones, to save time and money.
Digitizing micro, small, and medium enterprises, or MSMEs, was the topic in a recent online event of Globe Business. Held on Zoom with a broadcast on Facebook Live, the Rerouting your Biz with Digital Logistics webinar featured business insights and tips from Dennis Ng, CEO and Founder of Mober; Vin Perez, Chief Operating Officer of Ninja Van Philippines; Reese Fernandez, CEO and Founder of Rags2Riches; and Grace Andulza, Customer Success Head at Globe Business, and Anne Leonardo, the Head of Market Development at Globe Business.
“Globe Business provides MSMEs the best business solutions to support and boost their growth,” Leonardo said. “We always believe that digitization of information captured and shared in a creative way can help owners build a pathway to success and strategize for their businesses.”
Mober, a same-day, on-demand delivery service in the Philippines, shares this sentiment. “The e-commerce industry is said to thrive until 2025,” Ng said. “So we have to find ways to lower the costs of our services, and at the same time provide our workers, or riders, with a viable livelihood and the customers with real value.”
Ng added that they were also afraid to digitize at first. Coming from a paper-based inventory and delivery system, Mober did a comparative study between their manual process and the digital version. They found that having their inventory easily accessible through a cloud, anytime and anywhere, versus the original process of travelling back and forth between the client’s location and the warehouse, puts digitized logistics far ahead from traditional processes.
“There is no need to fear pivoting, as long as you know where your business is going,” Ng said. “We at Mober want business owners to focus on selling their products and make delivery easier for them.”
Delivery is also what Ninja Van is all about. With their service of parcel collection or door-to- door delivery in the Philippines, they help MSMEs make their business and products more reachable to a market who are increasingly reliant on e-commerce. And with the digitization of their systems, time and cost are both better managed because of automation and technology that cares for their infrastructure.
“But more than the focus of optimizing the costs, such as in utilizing manpower more efficiently, the more important thing is to make sure that we can generate greater value on that same amount being spent,” Perez said. “For example, we can put more on the communications side, especially with the customers. We can also invest in partnerships or marketing, or people involved in the processes in general.”
Fernandez, who leads the fashion and design social enterprise that empowers community artisans here in the Philippines called Rags2Riches, supports this emphasis on giving importance to the people even in the midst of digitization.
“Digital tools are tools; there are still human beings behind the tools,” Fernandez said. “So it’s also important to set parameters and manage expectations. If you’re not available, you should have a message that says so. Some customers expect 24-hour customer service even if you are a small business, so it’s better to set available or work hours to avoid disappointment from the customer and burnout for both the staff and business owner.”
She also said that going digital is not the silver bullet to any business challenge. “You have to look at your practices, the customer experience, and the whole fulfillment experience, so you know which areas you can digitize, and which ones are problematic. Once you’re ready, digitization will make your processes super seamless,” she added.
Andulza shared how Globe Business partnerships with MSMEs fare, with highlights on the conversion of manual processes to digital in terms of customer service, inventory, and marketing.
“Paperwork takes a lot of time so the billing and everything else get delayed,” she said. “When it comes to digitization, all those processing times get cut down and everybody receives the services and payment faster.”
With regard to business owners who continue to have second thoughts about adopting these new digital practices, Andulza said: “Some people are afraid of digitization because they think it’s too sophisticated. Sometimes it’s not. You just have to learn and understand what businesses exactly need so there’s no ‘over prescription.’ Because we are partners, we learn to adjust to how they [businesses] adjust. After all, digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all; it’s a journey that’s personal to every business.”