In the Philippines, one of the few upsides of the COVID-19 pandemic was the rapid growth of the digital economy.
Thanks to the lockdowns, many businesses that were previously resistant to the idea of digitization were finally forced to engage in ecommerce. Even more importantly, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos finally found the time to work on their side hustles or start their own businesses, overwhelmingly through ecommerce channels.
But while these established businesses and first-time solo entrepreneurs know that taking their business online is necessary, many do not want to go through the trouble of securing hosting and having professional web developers and designers create a custom ecommerce site.
Instead, many of these businesses are reliant on popular online marketplaces like Lazada, Shopee, Carousell, and Facebook Marketplace for facilitating their sales. Others may go a bit further by having a Facebook page and, perhaps, a presence on Grab.
It’s almost indisputable that these ecommerce solutions are important, particularly if you’re targeting Filipino consumers. In fact, ignoring these today is tantamount to leaving money on the table.
However, all businesses should make sure to set up a working ecommerce website in addition to all these sales channels.
Here are some very good reasons to invest in having your own ecommerce website:
1) Having a Website Builds Credibility
Not having a website may raise red flags for some potential customers. Even if they’re not planning an immediate purchase, they may still want to see your website to get a sense of whether you could be trusted.
In markets with low digital readiness such as the Philippines, simply having a website may already significantly increase trust in your business. Having a properly functioning website with a good UX and UI may have an even better effect on trust and, therefore, your conversions.
The important thing to understand is that this trust will also likely boost sales in other channels, including physical stores as well as other online marketplaces. This makes having a website an important part of cultivating high-quality customer journeys.
2) Websites Allow You To Learn About Your Customers
Having your own website allows you to use Google Analytics to learn more about your customers, including their location, demographics, and preferences. You can also learn what your site visitors looked at and how efficiently your site is converting them into customers.
The good thing about having customer data is that you can use it for more efficient targeted marketing campaigns. This results in more efficient marketing that offers a better reach and more conversions for less money. With properly leveraged site data, a solo entrepreneur can spend less effort on promotions and more on delivering better customer experiences.
When it comes to data accuracy, Google Analytics is still generally considered king. While 3rd party platforms like Facebook also have analytics functions similar to what, these are generally far less in-depth and much less trustworthy than ones you could draw from Google Analytics.
In any case, interpreting analytics data from any platform is as much an art as it is a science. Check out this resource to learn more:
3) A Site Increases Your Search Engine Visibility
Perhaps the best reason to have your own website is that it makes your business much easier to find on search engines. While not impossible, getting your business to become visible on popular search engines like Google can be much tougher to do without having your own website.
Regardless of whether you offer products or services, Google Search is definitely a space you want to dominate, as customers who use search engines tend to have a stronger purchase intent compared to those who come through other avenues, such as social media referrals.
In the context of Philippine ecommerce, getting your site to get to the top of Google’s search results is getting increasingly more difficult now that more businesses are investing in creating high-quality websites. If you want to find out how your brand can compete in local and international search markets, we’d be happy to share our SEO experience with you.
4) You Can Run Paid Search Campaigns
Having an ecommerce website will allow your business to benefit from paid search campaigns.
As more and more businesses engage in SEO, it’s getting progressively difficult to rely on purely organic SEO practices to get on the top of search results pages. Paid search advertising (also called search engine marketing or SEM) is one way to get around the issue of competitors beating you on search engines.
When combined with good web design and proper landing page optimization, even a short paid search campaign can help your business website quickly rack up a large number of new visitors. If your digital marketing components are up to snuff, these new visitors can quickly become loyal customers.
Running a cost-effective paid search ad campaign does require a good deal of finesse. Check out this resource to learn more about how SEM campaigns work.
5) You Can Gather Email Addresses for Remarketing
Email marketing remains an incredibly useful strategy for keeping customers engaged and encouraging repeat business. You can easily gather emails through your website as part of the order process or through an email popup.
While you can sometimes do this through 3rd party ecommerce sites, doing so may break their terms of service. Additionally, there may be serious legal hurdles regarding customer consent.
With your own site, you can easily and transparently build up a customer email database without violating any laws or terms of service. Once you have a populated database, you can run email remarketing campaigns, potentially increasing customer rapport and the chances of future purchases.
6) You Can Customize Your Site To Fit Your Needs
Popular ecommerce platforms such as Facebook, Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon may be convenient, but they’re ultimately very limiting.
On a 3rd party marketplace, you won’t have many options for setting your brand apart from the competition, which is a bad thing in itself. In many cases, you can’t even choose the theme or layout of your virtual storefront. What’s worse is that offers from your competitors will often appear side-by-side with your own on those platforms’ internal search engines. These are just things that you will have to accept when you sign on to appear on these platforms.
On the other hand, having your own site grants you near-unlimited freedom. Some things that you do on your own site include the following:
- Fine-tune your conversion paths
- Choose any layout or navigation path
- Choose colors and design features that match your brand
- Add any type of descriptive text or media you want
- Share your business’s mission, vision, and story
- Feature brand-enhancing partnerships
- Share useful information on a blog
- Implement an in-depth content marketing strategy
With your own ecommerce site, you get to call the shots. And that’s a beautiful thing.
If you’re new to web design, you can get in touch with us to discuss how best to build or revamp your site.
Marketplaces like Facebook, Lazada, and Shopee are essential marketing channels, particularly in the Philippine B2C setting. However, relying on these as your sole sales channels will limit your business’s potential for growth.
Having your own website is especially important as it not only opens up a new sales channel but it also allows you fully develop your brand in a way that would not be possible on online marketplaces. A well-constructed site will also do wonders for your credibility, which will often translate to more conversions across all your other sales channels.
Most importantly for smaller businesses, a website will increase their search engine visibility and allow them to leverage accurate customer data in ways that increase customer lifetime value. These two benefits alone will potentially allow a solo entrepreneur to outcompete a much larger and better-established business.