First Etail Insider roundtable sheds insights on how FMCG brands can thrive in today’s eCommerce landscape – Manila Bulletin

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Published September 22, 2022, 9:51 AM
by Lionell Macahilig
The Philippines has become one of the fastest-growing eCommerce markets globally, with 73 million active eCommerce users and online sales reaching $17 billion in 2021. To capitalize on this opportunity and secure a strong foothold in the digital shopping space, Filipino brands need two critical keys to succeed in the eCommerce space: an accurate, growing understanding of the changing digital customers, as well as strong business resilience that helps them adapt to the demands of the times. This was the conclusion reached in the recent Etail Insider roundtable, where FMCG retailers and digital marketplace leaders discussed eCommerce trends, market insights, and ways to address evolving consumer needs. 
Alexander Friedhoff, CEO and Co-founder of eCommerce enabler etaily, pointed out two “core areas” that can prepare a brand to thrive in the post-pandemic digital era. First is “building the trust of the new consumers, and once you have built trust and loyalty, you will always have them.” The second is investment in a “multi-location, tech-enabled, more efficient supply chain” that can accurately track the customers’ orders in real-time, deliver them fast and safely, and study and anticipate their future needs through data analytics.  
Resilience in eCommerce is now made possible by “a whole stack of capabilities to help the brands further in their e-retail journey,” Friedhoff continued. These new kinds of operations, which are tech-enabled and supply-chain-optimized, also solve the biggest problems of FMCG online: high volume and low margins. As an example, “multi-warehousing solutions reduce delivery lead times, lessen delivery costs, and improve order-to-cash cycle,” he added. 
Reaching the right audience
 Alexander Lim, Century Pacific’s Head of Innovations and General Manager for Pet Food, attributed his digital-first brand’s success to investing a lot of time in learning about online customers. Tasked to head Century Pacific Food, Inc.’s new pet food brand, Goodest, he admitted that eCommerce “was a new frontier” after working in FMCG for a decade. “Know your territory and your customer if you want to succeed in the digital frontier,” he said. “We went at digital 100% and tried things that Century hasn’t done,” said Lim. “Because of that, it was important for us to have partners like etaily. We learned so much from them in a short time. One of etaily’s big contributions was managing our digital assets, making sure our online presence was seamless.”
The change in paradigm shift paid off; after only three months, Goodest ranked in the top 5 of the most popular digital marketplaces: it is number 3 in Shopee Pet Care, and #5 in Lazada Pet Food despite being in a market that is hard to crack. 
As Lim summarized his realization, “FMCGs know how to make a good product and do good marketing, but we do need to know digital.”  
This makes etaily’s services instrumental in opening newer territories in the digital commerce landscape.
Looking back, Nina Dizon-Cabrera, CEO of Colourette Cosmetics, said that, without funding or an eCommerce manual to guide them during its start, the brand relied largely on social media and “the power of content” to impact its audience. Now it is one of the top brands of TikTok Shop, a digital shopping platform within the trending app. 
Cabrera also enumerated the three things that are always present in her content: “Inclusivity: I wanted to make a make-up brand for Filipinos by Filipinos. Advocacy: people support brands who believe in the same things they believe. Community: it must be in everything that you do.” 
Digital marketplaces 
Joey Ermita Bienvenida, FMCG Senior Category Manager of leading digital marketplace Lazada, highlighted a post-pandemic customer trend that FMCGs should take notice of: “eCommerce is ingrained in our daily lives and here to stay. What is important right now is bridging the experience from offline to online.” The reopened economy has also seen the popular beauty category getting even greater attraction. Bienvenida says, “We are seeing the demand for beauty products because we see people more often than before.” 
Jonah Ople, TikTok Shop’s Global E-Commerce SEA Philippines Lead for Acquisition and Incubation, added that brands must pay attention to the “change of guard in the customers: the Gen Zs who need to resonate with your brand.” TikTok’s creatives can amplify the brand’s message because they encourage Gen Z to actually “participate, review, and create interesting videos about your product.” 
Alexandra Garcia, etaily FMCG director, gave an overview of the eCommerce landscape: “Most FMCG brands are still in the foundational stage of their eCommerce channel, building their understanding and knowledge—but the demand is already there. With more people buying online, the companies realize they do not have their eCommerce capabilities set up, and they must double-time to have the result that they want. They also realize that they need experts, and this is where etaily comes in.” 
The Etail Insider FMCG roundtable discussion was the first of a series of eCommerce engagements hosted by etaily. It fulfills etaily’s mission of providing Filipino retailers the business resilience and competitive edge needed to succeed in the local and regional markets. For more information, visit
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