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How a traditional wellness enterprise got a boost in the digital space

To power its vision of community transformation, local social enterprise Coco Veda acquired the skills needed to develop more curated e-commerce strategies.

How a traditional wellness enterprise got a boost in the digital space

Through an e-commerce bootcamp, Coco Veda reached a new market and greater heights. Photos: Shutterstock

Health and wellness social enterprise Coco Veda prides itself on using traditional, vegan and organic ingredients in all its products.

But when the pandemic struck, the brand needed to embrace deeper digital commerce skills – fast. That was where Alibaba Group came in, with its first ever e-commerce bootcamp in Singapore organised in collaboration with the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) and Nanyang Polytechnic’s Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (NYP-SIRS).

The programme was sponsored in full by Alibaba and conducted by its training arm – Taobao Education, and trainers from NYP-SIRS. The 10-week-long bootcamp ran from September to December last year and equipped 53 participants from 32 social enterprises with the basics of digital commerce. Industry practitioners also shared best practices with participants at the bootcamp.

Staff from companies like Coco Veda learnt critical hard skills such as setting up e-commerce storefronts on platforms like Lazada, managing inventory and fulfilling orders, as well as soft skills like innovative thinking and understanding customers.

CURATING E-COMMERCE STRATEGIES AND MORE

As a social enterprise, doing business isn’t all just about profit for Coco Veda.

Coco Veda creates sustainable income sources for its farmer partners as well as jobs for its team of craftswomen in the Philippines. In doing so, Coco Veda empowers the community it supports and their families to break the cycle of poverty. It currently works with two coconut farmer cooperatives and eight to 10 craftswomen in Manila.

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Said Ms Simarna Singh, Coco Veda’s co-founder: “We are committed to sustainable job creation and skills development with the farmer cooperatives and the women who are an integral part of our operations team in the Philippines. We work closely with the farmer cooperatives to produce virgin coconut oil and coconut sugar to our specifications and are proud that our virgin coconut oil has been certified as ‘food supplement grade’ in the Philippines.”

All of its products use the brand’s signature premium cold-pressed virgin coconut oil as a key ingredient and are created in accordance with a philosophy of sustainability and doing good. The name Coco Veda is a blend of the words coconut and Ayurveda, the traditional Indian plant-based medicinal system.

Last year, however, many of Coco Veda’s partners were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The enterprise was compelled to pivot from its mostly business-to-business model to a business-to-customer one and drive new sales through online channels.

Through Alibaba Group’s e-commerce bootcamp, Coco Veda acquired insights that helped it develop customised e-commerce strategies to boost online customer engagement, leading to an impressive 20 times increase in platform traffic in three months from November 2021 to February 2022.

Coco Veda also came up with other strategies to drive sales, such as incentivising promotions, bundle deals and discounts, and enrolling in promotional campaigns on Lazada.

The bootcamp experience was not limited to sales strategies. The enterprise further benefited from guidance with its brand aesthetics, learning how to redesign its packaging to better reflect its sustainability ethos and to add an online decoration tool to make product listings more attractive. Taobao Education trainers also advised the brand on suitable trending keywords to add to its listings, which enhanced the store’s search engine optimisation.

According to Ms Singh, the bootcamp has given the brand the ability to reach a wider audience: “Since December 2021, we saw positive growth and engagement as well as more sales conversions on our online platforms, especially for our top-selling products like the anti-hairfall scalp oil, anti-hairfall shampoo and lavender conditioning cream. We’ve also seen an increase in engagement with new customers and channel partners, thanks to the training and content marketing tips from the lecturers.”

AMPLIFYING SOCIAL IMPACT BEYOND BORDERS

Moving forward, Coco Veda hopes to participate in more e-commerce campaigns to increase brand awareness and boost sales among a wider customer base.

It has continued to use the techniques acquired from the bootcamp, for example by participating in campaigns on Lazada to drive traffic during campaigns. It is also planning collaborations with other socially-conscious brands to promote positive messages themed around its brand values of women’s empowerment, sustainability and veganism.

With more sales and a bigger presence in the digital space, the company’s resulting growth is channelled to a good cause – it plans to hire more women in its all-female operations team and provide more income to the farmer cooperatives it works with. It also wants to pursue a new mission of youth empowerment by upskilling youths in Singapore with technical skills and work experience. Said Ms Singh: “Alibaba and raiSE have supported us to amplify our positive social impact within Singapore and regionally.”

Through its e-commerce bootcamp and other empowering initiatives, Alibaba hopes to continue helping local businesses explore new opportunities, tapping on the digital realm’s vast potential for inclusivity and positive change – in vulnerable communities and beyond.

Check out Coco Veda's e-commerce front on Lazada to see how a digital presence can help you reach more customers.

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