There’s more to online businesses than you think

by  Joyce Anne Alvero and Jossellejane Raizza Alvarez

Fascinated with online shops, Justine Audrey Pasion decided to open her own online business called “Vogue Ensembles.”  Justine is just a simple student who is now enjoying extra income and other perks from her online shop.  According to her, it doesn’t require much hard work.  Justine shared several tips on how to start an online business based from her experience.

Identify supplier and target buyers. Look for a supplier of the products that you want to sell online. Identify as well who are the target buyers of the products.  Remember that your supplier may not have everything that your consumers want.

Set up an online shop. There are many social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and even Youtube to showcase your products. As for Justine, she prefers Instagram because she finds it much easier to use.

Decide on the transaction process.  Canvass different modes of payment that will best suit you and your clients.  According to Justine, opening a bank account has its advantage because it has no charge fees while the use of remittance centers can help track the actual payment of your customer. “May mga napepeke kasing resibo,” Justine shared.  How the products will be delivered to your clients should also be considered.

These steps are no different from what Mae Anne Alejandrino did when she started her own online shop.  Mae Anne got bored from just surfing the web, checking updates on social networking sites and watching videos on youtube every weekends. With the need to have extra allowance, she decided to open an online shop, the “Mhirhy Cosplay Shop.”

Cosplay is Mae Anne’s hobby.  She used to buy stuff for her costumes online. “Since hilig ko rin ang cosplay at anime, naisipan ko na gawin itong business. Nung nagba-browse ako sa isang cosplay online shop, nakita ko na pwede pala akong magbenta din ng mga cosplay items. Dun na nagsimula yung Mhirhy Cosplay Shop.

Mae Anne shared that it is very important to find your interests in order to be happy doing what you love while earning money. Opening a business and doing it like a chore will just make you want to quit easily. Also, being honest and accommodating at all times helps in gaining costumers’ trust. A lot of patience is also a requirement.

Mae Anne uses Facebook for her online shop. She suggested LBC Express and JRS Express for shipping items to buyers.  For receiving payments, she gave the following options: Smart Padala; Gcash; BPI bank deposit; BDO bank deposit; LBC Pera Padala; Cebuana Lhuillier; M. Lhuillier; and Western Union.

From what Justine and Mae Anne shared, it seems that an online shop is just another easy way to earn money.  But there is more to this when you do your own online business.

Online shops fall under the category of e-commerce industry. In this type of industry, transactions such as buying and selling of products or services are done online.   Few examples of these online jobs or businesses include English or language tutorials, language translations, editing services, selling new and used products, medical transcription services, web-development/design services and many more.

Online businesses require less capital.  Renting a place for your store is not a concern. You can start off by simply selling products or services using different social networking sites. However, the downside in doing this type of business is that the buyer’s identity could not be quickly verified. Anybody can easily make online accounts using fake names and identities.

Prof. Jeanette Angeline Madamba from the Department of Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship of the College of Economics and Management shared that the use of social networking sites are not necessarily ideal for selling or buying products but it can help boost market reach. Prof. Madamba explained that verifying the online buyer’s profile is difficult.  It would be hard to trace the buyer should there be problems in payment collections.  Thus, one should take precautions to make sure that the buyer is trustworthy.

Prof. Madamba shared that venturing in e-commerce can also contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  The GDP is the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time. Per capita, it reflects a country’s standard of living. “E-commerce allows a more expanded market reach which translates to more product demand which in turn increases GDP,” explained Prof. Madamba. “Using the expenditure approach, e-commerce boosts the consumption side of GDP which is the sum of consumption, investment, government spending and net exports. It can also trigger growth in investment, government spending and exports, not just the consumption side,” she added.

Still according to Professor Madamba, another advantage of e-commerce is the flexible hours it offers. Since online businesses do not need a physical space, it is easily accessible to everyone who has access to Internet. Other than shipping schedules or appointments for the services, an online entrepreneur has control over his/her time.

However, just like any other businesses, e-commerce also has its own challenges.  Prof. Madamba shared that the fast pace of changing technology could be one. Adapting to certain changes may be difficult but an online entrepreneur should not stick to the idea that what he/she knows is already enough. Another is that a good online entrepreneur must be daring enough to take risks and follow the trends in technology or better yet, make innovations that will help him/her expand the business. Online security of the payments is also a challenge. Because Internet is a vast world, the security of each transaction cannot be fully assured. Lastly, online businesses are easily replicated and therefore competition may be stiffer.

Do you want to start your own business while you’re still in school? Why not try having your own online shop as well? Get up and be ready to venture out. Welcome to e-commerce!

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