8 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Your Online Shop

Of all the lessons the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, one of the most important is to never take anything for granted. Because of the health crisis, almost every aspect of our lives has been forced to change, from how our children go to school to how we acquire our basic necessities and most especially, how we work and earn a living. Unfortunately, the various community quarantine measures prevented many of us from reporting to work, seriously compromising our ability to provide for our loved ones.

Then again, we are Filipinos, and if there’s a single national trait that all of us are likely to have, it’s definitely resourcefulness. Faced with the prospect of being out of work, many of us pivoted to alternate forms of employment. Many explored the gig economy, becoming some of our dedicated Grab driver-partners, while others sought to break new ground by starting businesses all on their own. Needless to say, Filipinos are hustlers—they are madiskarte in ways that are not only surprising but also immensely interesting and inspiring.

In the time of the pandemic, the Philippines saw a marked increase in the number of online sellers. The DTI reports that of the estimated 75,000 businesses that were registered between the months of January and August 2020, more than 73,000 of them filed for registration between March 16—the first day of the officially implemented enhanced community quarantine in Luzon—and August 31. By May, more than 9,600 of these new businesses had “internet retail” listed as their main line of business, and this number would grow to more than 33,000 by June 2020.

It’s easy to see what prompted the spike: online sales estimates rose considerably during the time of the lockdown as people sought convenient and safe ways to get the things they needed. According to a study compiled by Statista, of the estimated 74 million Filipinos who use the internet on a daily basis, around 89% of them have used it to search for a product or service to buy online. That’s almost 66 million of them. Around 86% of all internet users also use a shopping app on their mobile devices, while around 80% actually bought something online. Additionally, almost 70% of all internet users report having bought something online using a mobile device. All of this activity has resulted in massive overall e-commerce sales growth year over year, from an estimated $500 million in 2015 to more than $3 billion in 2019, to projections of between $12 billion and $15 billion by 2025.

Whether you’re looking for a safe, convenient way to add a side hustle or are in search of a primary source of income, there has never been a better time than now to get involved in selling online. If you’re considering starting a business online but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some basic questions you need to answer to get your business started the right way.

1.) What Am I Selling?

Every for-profit enterprise starts with a product. You can’t be in business unless you have something to sell, whether that’s a physical good or a service that other people might consider valuable.

As an online seller, you have a huge menu of options to choose from. You may want to become a reseller of goods, using your following on social media to inform the public about products you believe in. On the other hand, you might want to build your own brand from scratch, creating a new product with your own two hands.

No matter what you decide to sell, you will definitely want to keep costs low to maximize profits, and Grab Madiskarteng Boss Club is committed to helping you achieve this goal. By becoming a member of one of the fastest-growing loyalty and rewards programs for Filipino entrepreneurs, you get access to a wide variety of benefits that you can use as diskarte for your business. These include cashbacks and rebates, exclusive promos and rewards, a range of smart delivery solutions, and the chance to be part of an exclusive community of entrepreneurs that offers learning opportunities for all.

2.) How Much Do I Charge For It?

The goal of your business is to make a profit, and in order to do that, you’ll need to charge for your product. Deciding how much to charge for it could actually spell the difference between massive success and going back to the drawing board.

To determine how much to charge for your product, you first need to know how much it costs to make. You can do this by adding up the prices of all the raw materials needed to make the product, then dividing this by the total yield from the raw materials. For example, you may want to start a home baking business and are looking to sell cakes. You know that you need eggs, flour, sugar, milk, and salt to make your cake, so if you spend PHP 1,000 on all these supplies and can make five cakes using everything you bought, your cost per cake is PHP 200. This tells you that you need to charge more than PHP 200 per cake to make a profit.

For resellers, pricing is a little different. You don’t exactly have to spend for the items you’ll be reselling, but you do have to account for the time it takes to sell your items and the price of your internet access. If you do live-selling, for example, you can divide the cost of your internet bill by the total number of hours you engage in live-selling to arrive at an estimate for your cost.

In business parlance, both examples mentioned are examples of operational expenses, also known as opex. These are costs that you’ll likely have to pay on a regular basis in order to continue to operate your business.

3.) Who’s My Competition?

Before starting out on your next big venture, one of the first things you’ll need to know is who you’ll be competing with. Unless you developed a new technology or have made some sort of discovery, it’s probable that what you intend to sell is already available somewhere on the market. That means you’ll have to compete for your piece of the online selling pie.

Get to know your competition. Sample their products and compare them to your own. Try to be objective and ask yourself (and others) if theirs is better, cheaper, or of greater value. Also, try to assess the whole experience of buying from them. Was transacting with them relatively easy? Were they responsive to communication, or did it take forever for them to reply to basic questions? Being able to answer these questions will help you formulate your strategy.

Let’s return to our baking example earlier. For simplicity, let’s say that there are two other bakers selling cakes similar to yours. If they price their products between PHP 400 and PHP 500 per cake, you can either:

  1. Price lower than them and make your cakes appealing to those looking for a low-cost alternative; or;
  2. Price higher and position your cake as a premium item that’s worth the cost.

Neither strategic option is correct or wrong. What will spell the difference between success and failure is how you execute on your strategy. If, for example, you choose option B, you should be ready to offer an exceptional sales experience in addition to providing a well-crafted product. This means you need to be ready to respond to inquiries and accommodate reasonable customer requests.

Another way to make your business stand out and to set yourself apart from the competition is by offering exclusive benefits to your customers. If you were to offer a generous shipping policy where you provide discounted instant deliveries, for example, you could make your business more attractive compared to its competitors. Doing this is possible if you have a reliable partner in growth, say a delivery service provider like GrabExpress that can give you a cashback with every delivery you book. As a member of Madiskarteng Boss Club, you can earn cashbacks worth anywhere from PHP 15 to PHP 75—amounts that you can choose to subtract from your shipping fees as discounts for your loyal customers.

4.) Who Should I Be Selling To?

This was touched on briefly in the point above, but its importance can’t be stressed enough. Who do you want to sell to? How old are they, and what are their concerns at the moment? Try to break out of the standard mold of thinking about your potential market in terms of how much money they make, and instead, consider what matters to them and how you can address these. This will make you stand out in their minds, giving you a leg up on your competition.

Returning to our earlier baking example, if you know that your two competitors seem to be offering products that would appeal to people 25 or older, you may want to make your cakes more colorful, fun, and kiddy to make them attractive to a younger market.

No matter who you’ll be selling to, you can be sure that they’ll want flexible payment options and a variety of payment methods. Luckily, when you become a member of the Madiskarteng Boss Club, you’ll be given access to all the payment options that GrabExpress offers, from support for most major credit cards to the convenience of GrabPay. Best of all, sellers who offer cash on delivery or COD as a payment option will be sure to benefit from GrabPay’s 48-hour settlement, the fastest available payment settlement time offered by any delivery service provider on the market.

5.) How Do I Make My Product Available to Them?

Books on business and entrepreneurship often refer to the answer to this question as your business’s distribution strategy. This can refer to a physical location, but it can also refer to the sales channels you use to sell your product. Online, that can mean different things.

One way to sell online is by using popular social media channels that allow you to showcase your products and interact with your customers easily. On the other hand, you may want to establish your own store within one of the most widely used e-commerce shopping apps. You may even want to build your own website and sell that way.

However you decide to distribute your products, the Madiskarteng Boss Club will be your best partner in delivering great value to your market. Got a product that needs careful, controlled handling? You, as an MBC member, have the option of choosing GrabExpress Instant – Bike (Bagged). This service’s delivery personnel are equipped with insulated bags, ensuring that your products will arrive in optimal condition.

You can even build your distribution strategy to maximize the Madiskarteng Boss Club’s service offerings. For example, one viable strategy is local distribution: select someone in a specific locality to partner with to serve as your main distributor for that locality, with all orders from nearby being coursed through that contact person. Then, you can use a service like GrabExpress 4H to do batch deliveries to addresses located in the same area, reducing costs and providing more value to your customers. You may even be able to offer free delivery to your customers this way, which they’ll surely appreciate.

6.) How Do I Inform Them About My Product?

Anyone who is knowledgeable about business would know that this question pertains to promotions strategy, and the need for this is self-evident: if your market doesn’t know about your product, they won’t buy it.

When it comes to promoting your products online, you have a number of options, and many of these tie back into your distribution strategy. Selling over social media? You may want to consider paying to have some of your posts boosted. Selling on an e-commerce platform? For a price, some platforms offer increased visibility or in-app ad placements. Got your own website? You can either purchase ad space within the more popular search engines, or invest in your website’s content to make it appear more appealing and authoritative when your product is searched for.

One thing’s for sure: Grab Madiskarteng Boss Club will be a great partner in letting your market know about your products. For example, you can add a pin to your preferred pickup point so that customers can easily find you when using the Grab app. You may even want to be featured on an ad within the app itself!

7.) Do I Have to Make an Investment to Make My Product?

Earlier, we brought up the concept of operating expenses, or the expenses you’re probably going to have to pay on a regular basis to keep operating your business. That’s only one half of the expense equation: the other half is known as capital expense, also sometimes called initial investment or capex.

While trying to put together an initial investment can be a little scary, the good news is you don’t need a lot in order to start selling online. For some sellers, such as those who resell others’ products, all they really need to invest in is a smartphone. In the case of our home baking business, some basic kitchen equipment like a stand mixer and a small oven would probably be necessary. Just remember the golden rule of investing: never invest more than you’re willing to lose. Make sure that all your other personal expenses are taken care of before deciding on how much you’re willing to invest in any venture.

8.) For How Long Do I Intend to Make This Product Available?

So far, this list of questions has been presented in numerical order, suggesting that these should be answered in sequence. However, you can just as easily use this question as your starting point for your online business, because it will help you set your overall goal for it.

Are you in the middle of a job hunt and just need an easy way to make a little money while you wait to hear back from a prospective employer? Maybe you already have a job that you’re happy with and are looking to add a side hustle (as well as a few zeros to your bank account). If either of these conditions apply to you, then your online business can have a horizon of a year or less. You should look to limit your capital expenses and use whatever you have available to make your business operational, rather than spending on equipment and manpower. A shorter horizon means that you have a shorter window to make back whatever capital you spent on your business at the start.

On the other hand, if you’re looking at your business as your main income stream, you can afford to invest in it a bit more. A longer horizon means you can spread out your capex over a longer period of time.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have the start of a business plan, a sort of roadmap that serves as your overall strategic guide for your business, along with the main objective of it. However, you don’t stop there. Continue to revisit your business plan at regular intervals. You may have to make adjustments or course corrections to your strategy, or scrap it altogether in favor of a completely new approach. What do you do once you notice that you seem to be selling out regularly and your customers can’t seem to get enough of your products? How do you handle a new entrant into the market, with products similar to your own? What happens when some prices of your raw materials suddenly spike? Being agile enough to provide answers to these questions will define the true entrepreneur.

No matter what your business goals might be, Grab Madiskarteng Boss Club will be ready to support you with cashback rewards, amazing promos, and only the best services. So, what are you waiting for? Become a member today and you’ll soon reach new heights with your online business.

Be a Madiskarteng Boss.

and get P30 OFF on 30 deliveries.