Almost everything can now be bought online, except a real spa experience, which cannot yet be delivered by the couriers. Almost everything can also be booked online—airport transfers, hotel stays, airline reservations, and even walking tours in Hanoi or Kampala.
The time of Internet shopping has come of age. Gone are the days of hackers and “fly-by-night” operators, thanks to sites like Trip Advisor who serve as watchdogs of service companies. I recently failed to meet my airport transfer and after an email complaint, I got my refund for the un-rendered service almost immediately.
It serves any entrepreneur well to think of going online. To sell online. To do almost any kind of transaction online. They say if you do not have online presence today, you are just not there. You are not in the consumers’ mind. And may never be.
What about social media and your business? Today, advertising agencies already dedicate special staff just to engage consumers in social media. They are called community managers, from what I have gathered, and they make sure the online community knows of your products and current promotions.
If you think hard about it, online shopping contributes to “greening” the supply chain. Because people can now shop from the comfort of their homes, that may be one less car that will travel and one less car that will cause traffic. The delivery of the parcel may be done on bicycles (like “Pedala”) or motorbikes, causing less energy for every parcel delivered.
As more and more people shop online, many stores will find a “brick and mortar” model expensive to build, and may just think of brand expansion in cyberspace. It pays, however, to always to have a flagship store, where passers-by can view your products, touch them and even smell them. But for repeat purchases, online may very effective.
When we first thought of the ECHOstore idea, our initial thoughts were to just be online. But none of us were “techie” enough to do it five years ago, and we had second thoughts about being able to transport the scent of our coffee or of our Spa in a Bottle online. So, we started with a real physically present store in Serendra.
As time went by, our customers soon experienced the coffee and the Spa in a Bottle (most popular for four years now!), and now I find them ordering it online. Word of mouth about our products spread and friends of friends from Lucena to Cebu have ordered our products online. Now, we may even have a store soon in Davao. And Singapore. And hopefully export our products to Dubai. All because we decided to be present in cyberspace, in social media and in our fourth store—our online store. www.echostore.ph
Going online is helping your business as you help the environment. It is beneficial to any business bar none.
Sometimes, baby boomers are technophobes because going online seems so “insecure,” so “virtual,” so “unreal.” But, with smart phones being in everyone’s hands, shopping online has never been easier, even for baby boomers.
For millennials and Gen X and Y, shopping online is de rigueur. They probably cannot fathom how stuff CANNOT be bought, booked or sold online. So there we are. Online shopping has become mainstream and news has it that businesses are better off having an online store, if not at least a Facebook page.
Instagram and Pinterest add awareness for your business, too.
Greening our business demands that we use less of everything that can exhaust our resources: paper, energy, and other exhaustible supplies. Going online surely is a way for people to help businesses become greener and more environmentally- responsible.
So, surf the net and check how you can buy airline tickets, book hotel rooms, sell your car and buy your next pound of coffee! Oh, and don’t forget the Spa in a bottle.
The massage oil. Try ordering your organic vegetables too!
Don’t be scared. You will be surprised how fast it is to learn to shop online. Green shopping should be our mantra for the year.
ECHOstore just opened its online store—www.echostore.ph leads you to shop.echostore.ph.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.