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E-commerce as an industry is thriving in the Philippines and it’s easy to see why many Filipinos want to start an online selling business.
According to Statista, the revenue for this year (so far) is at US$953 million or about P499 trillion, with an increase of 14.4% year-over-year.
The Philippine trade department believes that e-commerce can help micro-businesses in the country compete at a global level.
How to Set Up and Start an Online Business in the Philippines
Even with a small capital, you can put up an online business and enjoy high earnings.
You don’t even need to have a brick and mortar to sell goods. But how does one start an online business? Here is a step by step guide.
1. Write Down All Your Business Ideas
When inspiration strikes don’t let it go to waste. Write down all the ideas for business that come to your mind so you won’t forget them.
Then choose the most viable one based on factors like your level of expertise or experience in that field and how your target market will view and accept your business idea.
One good way to do this is by doing keyword research using Google Keyword Planner on your final ideas to help you determine the best products or brand (based on market demand) for the business you’re starting.
Recommended Reading: 150+ Profitable Business Ideas in the Philippines
2. Do a Thorough Project Study
Some entrepreneurs get carried away believing that their idea is going to be such a hit.
Do not make that mistake. Spend time and effort to perform a project study that should give you an idea of how your business will come together.
It should include a market study which will show you how much demand there is for the service or product you are planning to offer.
There should also be a marketing study which will tell you how to best reach out to and engage your target demographic.
Lastly, conduct a feasibility study to determine whether or not your business idea will be profitable.
3. Create a Complete Business Plan
As soon as the project study is finished, you can use the data that you have for your business plan.
This business plan is like a blueprint that would reflect everything from the pre-planning stage to the official launch date, as well as the maintenance period after that.
This is especially important if you need to secure third party financing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to get the funds from family members or friends, or through a business loan from a bank, accelerators, or investors – if you want your venture to be supported, you need a concrete business plan.
4. Start to Build Your Brand
Another blunder that beginner entrepreneurs commit is leaving the ‘branding’ for later.
They think they’d only need to create and build a brand when their business becomes successful.
What they do not realize is that branding plays a big role in helping your business find its position in the industry.
A good brand (which should include an eye-catching logo and a memorable tagline) has a personality that resonates with its target.
And because it’s an online business, your brand should be seen on various social media and other digital platforms.
You can hire an experienced digital marketing team to help you with your branding strategies.
5. Get Your Business License
You might be wondering if you would still need to register your business as it is an online one.
The answer is yes. Doing so makes you a legitimate business in the Philippines. Is your business a proprietorship or a partnership?
Once you establish this, you can register your business online with the Department of Trade and Industry.
A corporation, on the other hand, needs to be registered with the SEC or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Recommended: How to Start a Business in the Philippines
6. Create a Stunning Website
In the e-commerce industry, don’t think that the only thing you need for your online business is a Facebook account.
While social media plays a crucial role in your success, you need a website where all the leads will be directed and where your customers can make their purchase.
Your website should be fast, mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and provide relevant content.
Remember that your website is like your business’ central hub so make sure that it’s working all the time.
Don’t skimp on your website and hire a professional web designer if you want potential customers to trust your business.
7. Find Reliable Suppliers
Whether you’re going to create your final products and you just need materials, or you are planning to resell finished products, you are going to need suppliers who you can depend on.
Know, however, that since you are a new business with zero track record, you are going to need to prove to the suppliers that you are a legitimate business.
Have important documents ready, including your proof of registration, tax identification number financial statements, and more.
8. Get Your Social Media Campaigns Running
It’s an online business, so your “word of mouth” would also have to be online. Social media is going to deliver that.
Ninety-three percent of digital marketers make use of social media for business. You should know that there’s more to social media marketing than just posting beautiful flat lays of your products.
It’s also a great way to engage with your audience. Keep your social media accounts active by having a regular posting schedule. Don’t forget to link back to your website.
9. Determine the Best Delivery Methods for Your Business
Logistics is a crucial part of an online business.
Sure you can set meet-ups or deliver your goods yourself in the beginning, but you want to be prepared to meet the demands of your customers for speedy and reliable delivery as your business grows.
Aside from the quality of the goods, delivery is something that matters a lot to customers. They all want to get their purchases as soon as they possibly can, and they want to get them in good condition.
Work with reputable couriers or delivery apps that have impressive reviews from their clients.
Here are some of the third-party & B2B logistics services you can check out in the Philippines:
10. Start Promoting Your Business
It pays to have a good team of digital marketers behind you, but don’t make them all do all the work.
The most successful businesses are the ones that are represented by their owners.
No one could be a better face for your business than you. Show your prospective customers who you are because they want to know who they are transacting with.
A business without an owner’s profile will appear shady to anyone.
Top Selling E-Commerce Product Categories in the Philippines
According to Hootsuite and We Are Social, 92% of internet users in the Philippines visited an online retail store using their mobile gadgets or computers, while 70% purchased a product or service.
The largest segment when it comes to online selling is still electronics and media. The products included in this category are mobile phones, smartwatches, cameras, and more.
It has been sitting at the top of the product category list for years now. Last year, it made about P12.3 billion and it is expected to grow even more this year.
Skincare and beauty products have also been trendy since last year, taking 24% of the online market. The rise in popularity of beauty vloggers plays a big part in this.
An LBC Express executive says that health products have also raked in a lot of money since last year.
Other major product categories in e-commerce include furniture and appliances, personal care, fashion, toys and hobbies, travel, video games, and digital music.
Top Online Selling Sites, Apps, & Platforms for Merchants in the Philippines
Needless to say, the Philippines is a really big fan of online shopping and it appears like it’s going to be the case for years to come, what with the number of e-commerce sites growing, too.
Here are some of the top online shopping sites loved by Filipino online store owners.
Singapore-based Shopee has gained a huge increase when it comes to user base and is now comparable to Lazada in popularity.
The shop offers an array of products, both brand new and used items, making it a popular e-commerce platform for those who are done “Marie Kondo-ing” their homes and closets and are looking to earn money from their pre-loved items.
Who doesn’t know this shopping portal? Lazada is probably every Filipina housewife’s best friend.
It’s one of the biggest sites responsible for boosting the e-commerce trend in the country. It has everything you could ever want.
If you are lying in bed and you thought of something that you want, check Lazada, because they probably have it.
If you are looking for awesome fashion finds, be it for something to wear to work or a fancy party, Zalora is the go-to online shopping site.
They carry some of the biggest clothing and shoe brands, both international and local. Shoppers love that they also offer COD as one of their payment methods.
OLX, which was one of the most popular buys and sell sites in the Philippines, with their popular tagline “Ibenta na yan!”
Recently, OLX merged with Carousell – another popular online marketplace based in Singapore.
All of the listings that you could see on OLX before have migrated to Carousell.
Early last year, Filipinos were introduced to Facebook Marketplace, which allowed online shoppers to search for products without leaving the social networking platform.
And because of the massive user base of Facebook, it’s quickly become a popular online selling portal.
Amazon FBA (or Fulfilled by Amazon) allows Filipinos to sell their products globally by simply sending their products to Amazon’s Fulfillment centers.
With FBA, Pinoy online entrepreneurs can reach customers that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Subscribing to Shopify allows online business owners to create their own ecommerce sites and make use of all the tools they have to easily add products, enter important data, process orders and more.
Getting acquainted with this comprehensive e-commerce platform is a must for anyone with aspirations of online retail success.
How to Sell Online on Shopee
1. Sign up and create your Shopee account.
You can do this easily by choosing to log in using your email or Facebook details.
2. Create a seller account.
Simply click the selling tab and fill in all the required information like your bank account details, your birthday, and more.
3. Take photos of your products and upload the images.
The app has an internal camera that you can use, but you can also upload straight from your gallery.
You can add up to nine photos for every listing.
4. Add all the details about the product.
This should include the price, the number of items you have in stock, the variations available, shipping fee, payment options, and any other information buyers should know about the product.
5. When someone purchases the product, you would be notified by Shopee when payment has been made (if COD is not applicable).
You simply ship the goods and once the buyer confirms receipt, the payment will be sent to your Shopee Wallet.
You can request for the money to be sent to your bank account.
How to Sell Online on Lazada
1. Complete all the requirements for Lazada sellers.
That would include a business license, a Payoneer card (this should be registered as an enterprise), phone number and email.
You also need to have experience in e-commerce.
2. Register as a seller by simply clicking “Sell on Lazada” on their website.
A new page will open. Select “Become a Seller Now” and complete the details for your seller account.
3. Fill out the application form and submit it with complete details.
4. Upon approval, you will get a contract that you will need to sign.
5. You will get emails that contain your sign-in details for the Seller Center, online training schedule, and more.
Once you complete all that, you need to activate your Lazada seller account via the confirmation email sent to you.
6. You can start to upload your products.
Simply click on Products, then Add Products, and select the appropriate category for your product.
Fill in the required fields with accurate information and confirm the upload.
How to Sell Online on Zalora
1. Go to Zalora Marketplace’s website. Click the Get Started button.
2. Fill in the required details on the pop-up form and submit it.
3. You have to wait for their response, which could take up to a week.
Their strategic marketplace advisors will reach out to you. Once you get the approval, you will need to set up your profile, which will be like your shopfront.
You must have a cool logo and an image that will reflect what your store is all about
4. Upload your products and make sure they have descriptions.
After you’ve uploaded them all, you can add their price and the quantities of the products available.
Now, you’re all set to get orders.
How to Sell Online on OLX/Carousell
1. Start by clicking the “Sell” button.
The process is the same for both the mobile app and their website.
2. Upload photos of the products you are selling from your gallery or take photos on the spot.
You may be asked to resize the images if they’re too large. You can upload up to nine photos for each product you are selling.
3. Click on “Save” and fill in the description fields on the form.
4. Click on “List my item” on the form if you’re using the website or “Submit” if you’re using the app.
How to Sell Online on Facebook Marketplace
1. Go to Facebook Marketplace from the navigation panel.
2. Click on the “sell something” button.
3. Take photos of your product or choose images from your gallery.
Simply click on “Add photos” to upload them.
4. Add the title or product name, a description of your product, and the price.
5. Confirm your location so interested buyers in your area can find your products.
6. Choose a category for your item that can help when buyers filter the listings.
7. Wait for your customers to send you a message or an offer.
How to Sell Online on Amazon FBA
1. Create an Amazon Seller account.
Don’t forget to read the “Before You Register” part because there are two types of Amazon seller accounts – professional and individual.
Choose the right category for you.
2. Provide the information asked, including your name and address.
Do not forget to choose a catchy display name as this will be what your buyers see next to your product.
3. You will have to verify your identity via text or phone call.
4. Enter your bank information, including your 9-digit routing number.
5. Go to “Inventory” and from the drop-down, choose “Add a product”.
6. Unless you’re selling a product that you’re manufacturing, you can just search for your product and enter the price you want to sell it for, the condition, and other details you want to include.
7. For the shipping method, choose the option to allow Amazon to both ship and provide customer service for you. It’s the FBA option.
If it’s the very first time to sell on the platform, you’ll be directed to a registration screen. You just need to accept the terms of service.
Now here’s how Amazon FBA works:
- You send your products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers where they are sorted and inventoried.
- Amazon handles the customer transaction when someone buys your product.
- The product is picked from the fulfillment center already neatly packed into a box and shipped to the customer. Amazon also does the follow up to make sure the goods got to the customer all right.
How to Sell Online using Shopify
1. Set up your Shopify account on the website.
You can start with a free 14-day trial if you wish, as that would not require a credit card. Choose a rocking Shopify store name because it will be your primary domain.
2. You will be asked if you’re already selling elsewhere.
If so, you will be required to enter your current revenue.
3. Your homepage will come up once you’ve filled in the details required.
Here, you can either start customizing a theme for your page, add your domain or directly add your products.
4. Choose a theme for your Shopify theme.
It should be attractive and professional-looking. There are a lot of free and paid themes you can get via Shopify themes or you can customize everything.
5. Add your products.
Just like with other e-commerce platforms, you can do this manually by uploading photos and adding the product name and detailed description.
If you have a big inventory, you can bulk upload by importing with a CSV file.
5. Install Shopify apps that can help you grow your business.
You can find more than 2,600 apps that you can use for marketing, sales, and management, among others.
Best Products to Sell Online in the Philippines in 2020
As an e-commerce vendor, it can be tricky to pick which items to sell. Fortunately, people have become so acclimated and engrossed with online shopping that there’s a market for virtually anything.
Here are some ideas for your online store:
1. Wireless chargers
Anything and everything wireless are all the rage these days. And with everyone almost always tugging along some sort of device with them, you know they’re going to need to charge them at some point.
While wireless phone chargers are the most trending of its ilk, if you can find a supplier for a wireless charger for any device, then you might just hit a goldmine.
2. Phone lenses
With a continually increasing number of people doing it for the gram, selling phone lenses in your online store stands as a good idea.
These clever add-ons boost even a pedestrian grammer’s skills and even comes with multiple settings.
It’s been trending worldwide for the past few years, so it’s about time the Philippines caught the wave.
3. Drone Cameras
When it comes to documenting your life, why stop with your phone? High-quality, affordable drone cameras are now available.
And with wanderlust spreading across the country, selling these more affordable alternatives can be a great idea for your e-commerce store.
4. Home Security Cameras
Home security is becoming a serious issue in the Philippines. And with plenty of affordable home security cameras for sale in Chinese e-stores, it would be a good idea to profit from its increasing necessity.
The great thing about these cameras is that it can be connected to the internet, which allows you to see what’s going on in your home wherever you may be.
5. Wi-Fi Repeaters
Speaking of homes, everyone wants to be connected to their home Wi-Fi’s as much as they can – and these Wi-Fi repeaters can allow you to do just that.
These things increase your signal range to reach places like your backyard, garage, and if you’ve got a small enough home, even outside your gate.
6. Flexible Garden Hose
For those old enough to remember those hoses from the 80s and 90s, this isn’t the type that has the water cut when it’s bent or takes up a bit of room when not in use.
It’s completely flexible and is available in lengths that reach 25 and up to 100 feet. It’s also been trending in the US for the past five years, so that gives you an idea of how good a product it is.
7. Pet Massage Comb
Apart from traveling and going to the malls, having pets has become quite popular in the Philippines.
And this massage comb allow your pets to rub themselves, allowing you to enjoy your favorite show or book in peace.
8. Waterproof Shoe Cover
With the sneaker culture totally rapturing the Philippines.
And with basically only two seasons – dry and wet – these shoe covers made of silicon allow you to brave the rains without compromising your pristine kicks.
They’re also extremely affordable starting at just $2 a pair, making it perfect for your online store.
9. Face Shield
Maybe it’s the ever worsening pollution in the metro, or perhaps it’s some trend spawned by K-Pop/Japanese culture fandom – whatever it is, you’ve probably noticed more and more people donning face shields the past couple of years.
While most people wear basic medical issue masks, you can up the ante by providing something that looks way cooler.
And as you can see below, it’s not just in the Philippines where they’re trending.
10. Spider Nail Gel
Speaking of beauty, you can’t forget about the ladies’ paws. This gel is a mix of glitter and point and spreads fine lines of sparkling paint when applied for added pizzazz.
As well, these bottles start at just $2, giving you leg room to make great profit.
How to Find Suppliers for Your Online Store
Every successful eCommerce business owner will tell you that finding a supplier you can depend on plays a big role in the success of your venture. But how do you find the right suppliers for your store?
Here are some tips:
1. Know more about the distribution channels in your industry.
It would be a good idea to try contacting the manufacturer of the products you want to sell to see if you can buy from them directly.
If the order requirement of the manufacturer is too big, you should ask about their authorized distributors who can supply you with what you need.
Another option is to “Google” the terms distributor or wholesaler and add the products or brands you want to sell. Don’t close any deals with a supplier until you have done a comparison between all your options.
2. Consider major B2B marketplaces.
There’s nothing wrong with looking at multiple sources for your products. You might want to check out:
- Alibaba.com and AliExpress
- Wholesale dropshipping supplier directories like SaleHoo, InventorySource, Doba, and Worldwide Brands.
- Ec21 and EC Plaza from Korea
- Busy Trade from Hong Kong
- Buyer Zone and Global Sources from the U.S.
3. Ask for product samples
Once you have found prospects for suppliers, you might want to ask for samples of the products just to be sure that they meet your standards quality-wise.
After all, you don’t want to be selling things that you haven’t even tried or seen yet!
4. Let the bargaining begin.
You need to have leverage if you want to get better prices for the goods you want to sell. Perhaps you can introduce them to some good business opportunities.
You can also promise consolidated purchase orders. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with mentioning what their competition is offering either.
Remember that not all suppliers will be right for you and you might not get it right the first time.
The key is to be patient as the journey to finding the supplier of your dream is not easy but once you do, running your business will be so much easier.
E-commerce indeed offers a great opportunity for all Filipinos who are tired of being limited by their current jobs.
The toughest part of starting up an online business may be deciding on what you actually want to sell.
Once you have that down, you can then choose the right online selling platform, study how it works, and nurture your online business until it delivers the profits you’ve been dreaming of.
Want to learn more about the best online shopping sites in the Philippines? Check out this complete list now!