By Michelle Sario, CEO, The Artisan Gatherer
The battlecry for loving local and supporting local makers is an advocacy that has been gaining strength and following. More and more local products and services have been pouring into the market. There is a vibrant start-up scene with dynamic supporters.
Being a tech company in a developing country, we have a calling to use our knowledge, resources and network to create products that are inclusive and beneficial especially to those who are at the bottom of the pyramid. In the Philippines, where the colonial mentality continues to prevail, there is an emerging battlecry to love local, and support local makers and their businesses. Inherent to their small capital and cashflow is their inability to secure brick and mortar spaces in high-traffic areas and they also rely heavily on pop-ups and informal selling through their social media accounts – both temporary strategies are great but not sustainable in the long run. More and more consumers and businesses are embracing e-commerce and those businesses with deeper pockets have been quick to adapt to make their digital ecosystem e-commerce friendly. Those who have meager resources are left behind to their traditional ways of peddling their creations while big companies gobble up the share in e-commerce sales.
We created The Artisan Gatherer (TAG) – an e-commerce platform and local maker community that enables local makers, social enterprises and small businesses reach out to a bigger audience. Because we intend to be the voice of local makers in the e-commerce space, we screen all the potential sellers ensuring that they are conceptualized and made locally. Sellers get to enjoy having their own e-commerce storefront and they also benefit from the traffic other members of the community bring to the platform. As a united voice calling out to its fellow countrymen to patronize local goods, we are able to showcase the awesome creativity that is waiting to be mass-discovered and, above all, we are a united voice that calls for meaningful and mindful purchasing of goods and services.
The vision for TAG is beyond e-commerce. It will be a place for local makers to engage and learn from each other, and a place where they can find tools and resources to further grow their businesses. The vision for TAG is beyond the Philippines. We intend to be available in 3rd world countries and emerging markets where there is a need and an opportune timing to have the same model and consumer mindset.
The road is long and we are just getting started and are energized to the highest levels. We have twenty-seven awesome vendors signed-up with us (as of this writing). We are lobbying together with the Department of Trade and Industry in easing out single parcel exporting. We continue to evolve our platform and processes to meet the needs of our partners and customers.
As the world becomes more and more high tech, we need to ensure that we are not leaving people behind. We need to create products and services that benefit the smaller players in our society. Internet technology is meant to be a democratization tool, it needs to be inclusive and beneficial to everyone.
Designing this e-commerce platform is not as easy task. It is not a cut and paste e-commerce model. It needed to be designed around the e-commerce landscape and mindset in the Philippines.
Our process has evolved from manage-your-own-storefront into a platform supported storefront. We learned that our partners would rather focus their limited resources on creating the products rather than figuring out an e-commerce platform no matter how user-friendly it is.
Credit card penetration in the Philippines is less than 10%. Paypal as a credit card payment gateway does not cut it. We have incorporated a local payment gateway system that includes online banking, over-the-counter back payments, mobile phone payment and brick & mortar payment centers.
Logistics can be a nightmare in a country with 7,107 islands. While our vendors have the option to choose their trusted logistics company, we ease our partners’ woes by creating a system in the platform that informs them via email when a delivery is due and, for those who have no logistics partner, we find one that will pick up the parcel from their pick-up point to the final destination. The long-term plan is to create partnership with logistics companies to make this a sustainable model.
E-commerce takes many shapes and form, and varies from country to country, from one industry to the next. Our e-commerce platform is designed to specifically to meet the needs of our partners and customers, and evolves with the changing tides.
Michelle is a digital evangelist, purveyor of the democratisation of technology and an advocate for supporting local businesses, Michelle has founded The Artisan Gatherer (www.theartisangatherer.com) in 2015, an e-commerce platform and a community of local makers and evolved consumers aimed at empowering and supporting local businesses and social entrepreneurs.
We thank Michelle for her forthcoming views on e-commerce and look forward to welcoming her at Seamless Philippines 2017, 27th to 28th September at the SMX Convention Centre in Manila. Other artisans will be there as well as we curate a panel to discuss the perils and pitfalls of surviving in a hyper-digital world. CLICK HERE to find out how you can be part of this exclusive opportunity.