By Miguel Hanz L. Antivola, Reporter
A COMPLETE network of partners and tools is a growing necessity for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to leverage the steady rise of e-commerce, according to entrepreneur Jacqueline Y. Chua.
Just when the pandemic hit, Ms. Chua, along with her colleague, saw an opportunity. Drawing from their experience in setting up e-commerce ventures for a conglomerate, they embarked on a new venture dedicated to serving MSMEs.
Ms. Chua, as the co-founder and chief executive officer of We Empower Ecommerce Solutions, Inc. (FullFill), took the initiative to convert her business partner’s facility into their startup’s headquarters.
With just a single year in full operation, FullFill grew to become a one-stop e-commerce support hub with micro-warehouses, co-working spaces, photo studios, and other services, Ms. Chua said.
“We are a startup, small business owners as well, so we understand the challenges faced by each MSME,” she said. “We wanted to create an end-to-end solution for them.”
“Our main advocacy is to help as many MSMEs as possible like us so they will have an easier time scaling and finding partners to grow their businesses,” she added.
The Philippine e-commerce market reached P500.9 billion in revenues with a growth rate of 31.3% last year, according to GlobalData analytics.
It is expected to grow by 22.9% to reach P615.7 billion this year, it added.
While Ms. Chua recognized the high growth trajectory of the e-commerce industry, she noted that online-native MSMEs eventually integrate into brick-and-mortar businesses after gaining critical mass. This integration also prompted FullFill to expand its services.
“For things that we cannot do ourselves, we work with collaborator partners,” she said on partnering with other businesses and service providers for MSMEs.
“FullFill was originally intended for e-commerce players,” she said. “But over the course of the past year that we’ve been operating, we have actually expanded to include B2B or business-to-business channel fulfillment services as well.”
Ms. Chua also noted that most MSMEs born in the e-commerce space, typically pandemic-born partnerships, struggle with manpower and finding a trusted service provider that suits their needs.
“If I am the owner myself. I do not have time to run the actual operations, picking and packing orders, or creating social media content,” she said.
“It’s very important for you to have a partner or outsource these services to those who are experts in that particular field,” she said on FullFill’s collaborator partners for other resources.
“In terms of output, content, and the efficiency of fulfillment, your KPIs [key performance indicators] will all be better instead of you doing all the work by yourself,” she added.
“What we strive to do is create an ecosystem where these MSMEs would know who to talk to.”
EXPANSIONWhile FullFill is still in its first year of operations, Ms. Chua said it is focused on ensuring its business concept is acceptable to the 40 clients it is serving.
“Once we actually tick that box, we will move on to expanding to about 10 more locations in five years,” she said.
Currently headquartered in Pasig, Ms. Chua noted the company’s convenient and strategic location in the metropolitan area.
“We are very near C5 and near Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Quezon City,” she said. “In general, if you look at the radius, we are a maximum of 20 kilometers away from every location within Metro Manila.”
“But the intent is really to expand outside the metro already,” she added on the company’s plans to build hubs in provincial metropolitan areas such as Davao and Cebu.
Ms. Chua noted that some of FullFill’s clients are based in the provinces and are eyeing expansion in Metro Manila.
“They don’t have the bandwidth to create another team here because it’s not efficient anymore,” she said. “So they actually outsource the fulfillment and even the content creation to us already. We’re like their business partner in Manila.”
“It’s really the maturity of the MSMEs right now,” she said on the main industry driver. “At this point, it is very important that we listen to them as their business partners.”