Neighborhood retailers in the Philippines can now restock their shelves with a few taps, swipes, or clicks, all thanks to Universal Robina Corporation and the incomparable reach of social media giant Facebook.
Last October, the branded consumer food and beverage product company launched a social commerce platform on Facebook that lets sari-sari store owners order easily online from nearby URC product distributors.
“With some one million or so of them spread across the country, sari-sari stores form the backbone of the informal retail sector,” said Roger L. Banta, URC Branded Consumer Foods Group (Philippines and Southeast Asia) Director for Sales Operations & Capability Development, highlighting why it is important that their procurement needs are immediately addressed.
Chay Mondejar-Saputil, Retail Vertical Lead at Facebook Philippines, said the Facebook social commerce site provided “a unique solution that drives sales growth for URC’s distributors and their sari-sari store customers.”
Using Facebook to lift sales has introduced URC’s distributors to “the world of conversational commerce and leapfrogging in terms of digital transformation,” she added.
A central feature of the new URC sales platform is “Ate Chat,” an avatar that serves as a digital concierge.
“Ate Chat receives and answers queries from sari-sari store owners,” explained Banta. “She also provides products and price lists and promos, and then directs those with queries to where they can order what they need online from distributors nearest them.”
Apart from having this user-friendly feature, the Facebook-based platform also provides key analytics that help URC tailor-fit content to drive community engagement and allow a seamless ordering process.
After the site's launch, several thousand messages were received and replied to within the first two weeks. Sales, meanwhile, surpassed their target six times by November.
“We’re so thankful we discovered the URC Distributor page. Now, ordering has become a breeze and hassle-free because products are delivered to us. It has been a big help, especially now that we’re having a pandemic,” said Catherine Cuico, a sari-sari store owner from Alabel, Sarangani province, just one of many retailers who have benefited from URC’s new ordering program.
According to Banta, the platform will soon undergo further improvement to deliver the next phase of growth, automating its community management and ordering systems. Together, says Banta, these will create a sustainable ecosystem to drive the company’s social commerce to greater heights.
To learn more, visit the URC Distributor Network page on Facebook.