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Boholano’s cyberstore captures OFW market

First Posted 08:53:00 01/28/2010

Desiring to be his own boss and motivated by his family, Christopher Sapong made his dream come true last year after having tried working for many companies and finding out it was not for him.

Sapong, who is from Bohol, said his first job had to do with distribution of fast moving products and it developed in him a fondness for the retail business.

With that knowledge, complemented by the skills he developed while also working in marketing for other companies, Sapong decided to put up his own retail company, but with a twist.

?Setting up a sari-sari store would require a lot of capital investment so I decided: why not set up my store in the cyberspace, which would only require programming skills, which I also have as a graduate of computer science course in Tagbilaran, Bohol.?

So in August 2009, he set up his online store, www.mytindahan.net.

?I got most of the capital investment from Kapamilya Negosyo Na because I am one of the finalists. So basically my capital investment is just around P10,000,? Sapong said adding that the winners for season 4 of KNN have yet to be announced this February.

Running the business on a small scale, Sapong just shops for items at local supermarkets that offer low prices. He then sells these items online at prices that are higher than his purchase prices but still lower than the prices found in a sari-sari store.

Sapong said that his market is huge but for the moment he only concentrates operations in Cebu on a separate market, overseas Filipino workers, which he never thought of when he set up his company.

?I found myself serving the overseas Filipino workers who have loved ones here. They order from me online and pay me through debit card or credit card and then have the items delivered to their loved ones here in Cebu,? he said.

According to Sapong most of his OFW clients prefer to buy groceries for their family this way rather than send cash as doing so ensures that the funds are well-spent.

Aside from OFWs, Sapong also said that he also has local buyers who order from his online store. ?Eighty percent of my clients are OFWs and the rest are local buyers from Cebu who are executives in some companies here and are very busy and no longer have time to shop for groceries,? he said.

Sapong added that there are times that he also caters to buyers from Cebu?s neighboring provinces but he usually has to add freight charges as in the case of a customer from Bacolod who likes to order dried dangit from Cebu.

For orders above P3,000, they waive the P60 delivery charge.

Transactions are smoother now, but Sapong said he started with no track record in online selling and so he had to work hard and earn the trust of his clients.

?So I have to make sure that all of my clients are satisfied considering all the Internet crimes happening nowadays with different scams and modus [operandi],? he said.

Logistics was also a problem especially during peak seasons like Christmas.

?I only have one motorcycle unit used for delivery and two people on call so logistics is a big problem for me at times,? he said.

The website is still undergoing a lot of improvements according to Sapong.

He has to make themes for his online store in time for important seasons like Christmas and Valentine's Day. ?I want to make my store look in time for the season.?

For future directions, Sapong hopes to make his selection bigger with more products and also hopes to get supplies directly from distributors. ?As of now my orders are still in small volumes so I can't order many from distributors and get discounts from them.?

A delivery van is also on the list of things to buy once operations get bigger to facilitate better delivery of goods as well as a way to help more people by providing employment.

?Now I have two people to help in the delivery, but I still can't afford to pay them better rates so that's my long term plan and I hope to achieve that sooner so that I can also help in the community.?

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