PLDT, Smart equip MSMEs for digital pivot

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Published on December 14, 2020

In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic when all types of businesses were reeling from quarantine measures, it was feared that only giant corporations would survive. Today, less than a year later, the prognosis looks to be changing.

Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) appeared to have defied the odds, emerging resilient in the “new normal.” Their strategy? Digital transformation.

Entrepreneurs who upgraded to marketing and communication techniques that depend on reliable connectivity became better equipped to deal with the economic disruptions.

Ube cheese pandesal.
Ube cheese pan de sal.

To support of their digital shift and address the increasing demand for connectivity, in general, the country’s largest integrated telco PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), accelerated the rollout of their fiber and LTE networks nationwide. The most extensive in the country, PLDT’s fiber footprint is already at more than 422,000 kilometers. This same infrastructure supports Smart’s wireless network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for its LTE base stations.

Today, connectivity is not merely a necessity but a key game-changer. It can enhance competitive advantage and propel businesses to greater heights.

Take Lola Luz Countryside Bakeshop, owned by the Grafe-Enriquez family of Hilongos, Leyte. The family used to rely largely on word-of-mouth and door-to-door peddlers to promote their products. The strict lockdown in March compelled them to think of ways to keep the business alive. Their digital shift marked a milestone in the business.

The family behind the Lola Luz Countryside Bakeshop.
The family behind the Lola Luz Countryside Bakeshop.

Leyte bakeshop takes digital route

Established in 2006, the bakeshop was named after the owners’ mother, an expert pastry-maker who passed on her love for baking to her children. Daughter Zonie Enriquez and her husband Ramon first entered the bakery business in 1990. Their son Mike and his wife Ann later helped run the business.

Lola Luz now has seven outlets–six in Cebu and one in Leyte – and is on Facebook, Instagram, and is listed on food/restaurant review and tourism sites. Joining the online trend opened doors to new ideas and marketing strategies.

With connectivity, the owners were able to scale up the business and widen their reach.
“Ube cheese pandesal was a huge craze on social media. We wanted to make our own version. Our head bakers experimented with recipes until we felt ready to sell our product,” said Ann.

Following an initial 100 pieces of ube cheese pandesal, they introduced several house specialties including classics such as ‘Elorde’ (also known as Monay) and cornbread.

“Reading satisfied customers’ reviews posted on our social media accounts validates our efforts. We may not be as prominent as the other big bakeries but knowing that people like our food and come back for it is a bonus,” she said.

Some of their online buyers are even surprised to learn that Lola Luz has been around for some time, and that there’s a branch near them. “For that, we have connectivity and social media platforms to thank,” Ann said.

As a way of giving back, the family has joined several donation drives for the benefit of Covid-19 frontliners. “Cebu bakery owners formed a group via Viber, initially to discuss how to move deliveries. The group then organized a way to help frontliners by providing them nourishment. We donated our baked goodies,” said Mike.

For loyal customers, Lola Luz products now come in beautiful packaging, perfect for the gift-giving season. It’s the owners’ token of appreciation for the new level of relationship with their customers, brought about by connectivity.

“Social media platforms not only boosted our brand and profits; they have also paved the way for more personalized and efficient customer interaction. Our avid customers eventually became our friends,” said Ann.

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