Jen used to work as a secretary in Baguio even before the pandemic. She resigned and planned to seek for a better job abroad. When the pandemic hit in 2020, lockdowns were imposed and brought to halt all movements, including her overseas plans.
It was during that difficult period when most people rediscovered the convenience of dealing with things online – which a few establishments and government agencies were already exploring pre-Covid-19 pandemic.
It has become handy, leading many to shop, have goods delivered, process transactions, conduct meetings and occasions, and work, among other things via online then and even now after movements went almost back to normal.
For Jen, who decided to sell goods and able to develop a steady group of suki in her small dry goods business in almost three years she has been staying home, along with most of the population,e-commerce has become a way of life.
While confirming doing things online has become a lifestyle among most consumers largely due to the pandemic, the Department of Trade and Industry Cordillera is reminding businesses to keep its existence legitimate and for consumers to know their rights and their responsibilities as well for mutual safety in doing business.
DTI-CAR OIC Director Juliet Lucas said the pandemic had caused the shift from physical buying to largely online buying or e-commerce due to the forced lockdowns then and for its convenience now even when restrictions already eased.
While the agency does not have the actual number, Lucas said based on observation every household may have had a member who had experienced buying an item or goods online and felt the convenience of having it delivered at their doorsteps without going to a physical store and having to carry cash on hand, except in areas with no Internet access.
One good thing this shift brought, Lucas said, is that online commerce revived businesses, and especially individuals who lost their jobs and resorted to selling goods or services online.
“It is a good thing because it created income. At the same time, it delivered the needs of our consumers. Kung wala nga naman sila paano tayo makakakuha ng mga necessities natin. It became advantageous because it presented speed and wider choices,” said Lucas, who was among the resource persons during the “Usapang Ekonomiya: Pagbangon mula sa Pandemya” Episode 1 of the 2022 Cordillera Dagyaw organized with concerned agencies on Nov. 29.
However, Lucas said the online business setup has also presented disadvantages, which include issues on identity and authenticity on the part of both sellers and buyers leading to cases of fraud and consumer’s dissatisfaction.
“Maraming kalokohang nangyayari on the part not only of the sellers but at the same time of consumers, who while they have rights, also have responsibilities. Also, resolution of complaints on online transactions, being a kind of cybercrime, is more difficult because there’s the question of identity and legitimacy among traders and buyers,” she said.
Lucas said there is a need to cultivate a culture of trust between trader and buyer.
With the behavior created by this lifestyle, she said the DTI is reinforcing and capacitating businesses and consumers in using e-commerce platforms.
The agency had to adjust its e-commerce roadmap, from 2030 to last 2021, to help the country cope with the trend of consumerism at a time when it became the best way to make transactions.
“We have to capacitate our micro, small, and medium enterprises on online marketing who are mostly using the social media in selling, orient them on logistics needed, including financing technology; marketing, delivery, and payment; product discoverability, packaging, and labelling, branding, product benefits, and giving value to consumers’ money,” she said.
She said MSMEs should also assure product safety as consumers should know the products they are buying will not cause them harm.
DTI continues to remind online businesses “to do their business as usual,” where they have to have their business registered, get license, and abide with consumer laws like putting price tags online.
“Hindi ‘yung HM (how much), PM (private message) me, or DM (direct message) me ang kalakaran. That’s not lawful. The good practice is kapag nagbebenta ka, may presyo ka nang nakalagay,” she said.
To protect consumers, business registrations are now also made online which the public may access to verify legitimacy of businesses they are transacting with, similar with the processes of the Securities and Exchange Commission which puts everything about legitimate and questionable businesses or transactions in public via online. – Hanna C. Lacsamana