One of the new segments that have come out of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and its resulting lockdown is the community. Through this segment we have discovered community commerce, community barter and similar community-related activities that allow for trade and commerce to still exist, even if consumers are confined to their homes.
There is a different benefit that comes with community commerce compared with shopping online. We have written a couple of articles in this column about the new business model that emerged out of this, and how every Juan can now become an entrepreneur by focusing on his community as his customer segment.
This scenario has also led to the sustainability of the logistics business, as each of us now rely on the delivery of items to address our household needs and, to a larger extent, the needs of new ways of working, such as working from home and other home-based activities like online learning. It is also worthwhile to note that we have more options now in choosing delivery/logistics providers. This is a good thing, as it shows how the industry is continuously supporting the growing number of consumers who depend on this service.
Another good thing I see is the fun in participating in community barters, which somehow helps all of us cope with the pandemic. In my area alone, I am a part of three community barter clubs — about 13,000 members in total — and this number alone tells you how community commerce helps many people get by, day in and day out. If you haven’t tried bartering yet, I suggest you give it a shot. It is a good experience decluttering and getting all the Spam and Yakult your household needs.
I have to highlight the management of one particular community — the BF Barter Club, or BFBC for short — and how transparency, effective community guidelines and strong community engagement lead to a healthy and sustainable bartering practice. As a member, I see the strict rules and policies involving bartering goods to be very well-executed and complied with by the majority, and this is one of the reasons the club is flourishing compared to others. Clearly, BFBC is an example of how a community can be managed well by being transparent in all guidelines, rules and regulations and clear about the sanctions should a member be noncompliant. Thanks to the administrators and moderators, the general experience of the club members has been very good.
Taking this concept to a grander scale is the community or village I belong to, which, as of late, has now imposed entrance fees for any rider that enters the village, whether to pick up or deliver something. I recall this has been imposed early this year, but was taken out after an uproar in the community. However, a few months later, it was reimposed, much to the dismay of majority of the residents. The sentiment of the community has been negative: no one knows where the entrance fees go and no official memo has been released to explain why is there a need to charge this amount to the rider entering the village. I have reached out to the president and some of the members of the board of the homeowner’s association for their opinion and feedback on this, but have not heard from them as of press time. This is an ongoing issue and a challenge, considering how community commerce is an important trading platform for all of us at this time and, more important, a perfect example on how the experience can be compromised, given the policy guidelines or the lack of these.
Managing communities requires transparency, strong leadership and community engagement to ensure that our community can sustain new business practices such as community commerce. We are coexisting with the pandemic and creating our “new normal” as we go along. It is not impossible that this would, in all likelihood, be our new normal and, thus, all the more that the management of these communities should be done with focus and vigor more than ever. That is the management action needed.
Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include nation-building, sustainability education and financial literacy. The author may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.