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Shifting your operations from online to offlline

Why an entrepreneur thinks its better for their business to keep its operations offline.
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Going green is increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice for many Filipinos. Among the many advocacies to save Mother Earth, becoming a vegetarian is one of the most popular routes to go. But even before well-known restaurants have incorporated “healthy options” in their regular menu, husband and wife Lito and Adelyn “Ads” Misa were already selling and distributing packed salads at their daughter’s office as early as 2001. Their products, called Goolai, are specially and carefully prepared in the Misas’ very own kitchen.

[related|post]When Ads saw that Goolai was well received by her daughter’s officemates, the couple expanded the venture and planned to distribute packed vegetarian meals to bigger offices. They requested for clients’ e-mail addresses and set-up an online group where they would post their daily offers, and receive and confirm orders. This e-mail system worked out quite well at first: they would accept online orders until 5 p.m., get up at 4 a.m. the following day to prepare the goods, then have their messengers deliver the orders to Makati, Ortigas in Pasig City and Eastwood in Quezon City come lunch time. By 2007, their online client base grew to more than 3,000.

“The problem with e-mail correspondence is that even if we set a cut-off, there were some who would still ask to be considered for next day’s orders past the deadline. That’s okay, but sometimes, we’d get back unclaimed orders even if there was a no-return, no-exchange policy,” says Ads. “Maintaining bulk orders and door-to-door deliveries and monitoring our e-mail’s inbox became such a task,” says Lito.

Because of these difficulties that their business encountered online, the Misas decided to shake up the order system for Goolai in 2005. Both Ads and Lito deemed it necessary to shut down their online ordering system, although temporary, for a while. “From time to time, we still send out our new menus to those listed in our e-mail client base. But we don’t really entertain any more orders there,” explains Ads. Fortunately, it wasn’t that hard either to get the business back on the road.

Ads recalls how supermarket companies approached them to get their product as the supermarket’s in-house salad. Ads shares, “It’s amazing how we easily got consigned by Rustan’s Fresh Supermarkets after we signed off the Internet. There were others who were interested in Goolai, but we initially went for the deal with Rustan’s to test the waters. Rustan’s made Goolai available in its Greenbelt 1, Rockwell and Makati branches. Later on, our consignment was expanded to five other branches. We definitely have the volume even if our margins remained small.”

The price of Goolai salads has been steady at P154 for two years now, a sure sign that their product has been doing well, if not much better, after going offline. Moreover, Lito formed the Agri-Growers Multipurpose Cooperative to monitor the production of Goolai lettuce as they saw a steady increase in the demand for the vegetable. The couple also cultivated their own hydroponic farms, where a variety of lettuce are being grown, including lollo rosa, romaine and frillise.

At present, Goolai salads can be purchased in more than 50 outlets nationwide, including Robinsons Supermarkets, Petron Treats, Total Gasoline Stations and Crossings Supermarkets. The Misas have also opened a small kiosk for Goolai products at Promenade Lane in Greenhills, San Juan, where customers can easily take out their orders. Plus, their line of bottled dressings is exclusively sold there. Ads says: “We’re still waiting to make our dressings available in supermarkets.” Waiting for what? “Aside from papers, the right time, the right quality. In the salad business, you have to be consistent with your offerings.”

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