Online selling keeps Filipino health-product maker afloat
THE prolonged lockdown period due to Covid-19 has forced the closure of a large number of small and medium businesses, leaving thousands of employees out of work.
But for health and wellness firm Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI), quick adoption to technology helped them keep the business afloat amid the economic ravages being unleashed by the pandemic.
YBHPI operates over 200 brick and mortar stores across shopping malls in the Philippines, with more than 500 employees.
“We were caught off-guard and unprepared. Many malls where we have outlets closed,” recalled Rhecks Bolasoc, Yamang Bukid’s area manager for Bulacan.
While they were forced to close some outlets, the management embraced the digitalization of its business operations, and employees were trained to run the company’s Facebook page, to take in, facilitate and move orders, said Bolasoc.
“We were worried about losing our source of income. We were worried for our families,” he said.
Yamang Bukid is known for its was traditional way of doing business, with primly, yellow-clad salespersons giving free taste of its flagship product, Yamang Bukid Turmeric 10-in-1 Tea, to shoppers and ushering them to its display of the product in glass shelves in outlets or booths conspicuously located within leased mall spaces.
Besides setting up local pages, Bolasoc also directed staff to do online selling themselves, with inventories either those from closed outlets or from the company warehouse and distribution hubs.
Before long, his online selling operation gained momentum and attracted many buyers and inquiries, said Bolasoc.
Prior to the pandemic, Yamang Bukid’s online presence was minimal, mainly comprised only of the company’s web site that published company-related social responsibility stories, and a Facebook page where they post about selling activities in outlets and occasional call-to-action to new customers.
“The company is slowly recovering, and we are thankful that we were able to retain most of our employees despite a huge drop in revenues,” said Katherine Guadiz of Tarlac.
She said Yamang Bukid had to scrounge the lost revenue from non-operating outlets and remain afloat as an organization.
“We started our first promotion through FB Live. We also set up another Facebook page dedicated for online selling, orderstaking and deliveries,” said Guadiz, who has been with the company for over five years.
Guadiz said she also encouraged her staff to share their page to other online selling groups to gain more traction and attract potential customers.
While shopping malls are returning to normal, she added, small and medium scale businesses still have a long way to go to recover.
Even if the economy recovers and the market normalizes, doing business online is seen to remain as part of the new normal, Guadiz said.
For companies like Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. to continue to thrive and stay relevant, it has to adapt to and integrate digitalization as a way of doing business, according to experts.
The health and wellness firm has embraced the digital shift wholeheartedly.
“Going online as a result of the pandemic presented many opportunities to us,” said Mordino Visitacion, YBHPI Chief Executive Officer. “Our online business model created new partnerships, with more resellers from businesses like pharmacies, merchandising stores, convenience stores to individual sellers.”
While the company strengthened its distribution and delivery systems through established e-commerce giants like Lazada and Shoppe, its in-house delivery system through its partner courier J&T Express also relied heavily on orders placed through its social-media accounts, the Yamang Bukid chief executive said.
“Our online presence also made our brand more widely available and more accessible. Aside from our usual mall outlets, and supermarkets where our products are on display, you can now easily purchase the Yamang Bukid Turmeric 10-in-1 Tea in the comfort of your home through the different online platforms.” he said.