For more than three decades, Titanium Mobile was a successful brick-and-mortar business until the pandemic brought it online for the first time. For sisters Alexandra and Caitlin Ngo, it’s fulfilling to know that their family venture was ready to cater to a need as people scrambled to adapt to the new normal and demand for gadgets, which became work from home and homeschooling essentials, were at an all-time high.
When government ordered a nationwide lockdown to contain the outbreak last year, Alexa Ngo believed that staying at home and buying online was a safer option for everybody.
She began selling Titanium’s JBL speakers on Facebook, and soon after, she and her sister, Caitlin, noticed a demand for other electronics. They received countless inquiries through Messenger which led them to create Titanium Mobile’s first ever website in April using Shopify.
“This entire pandemic will change the way people shop. There is a future and a lot of growth for online selling,” Alexa told us.
Titanium Mobile used PayMongo’s links to receive payments during their 3-month free trial with Shopify. As of August 2020, Titanium Mobile has been on a Shopify advanced plan and they’ve integrated PayMongo within their site.
“This has made everything more seamless when it comes to customer user experience,” Alexa said.
Titanium Mobile has been in the retail mobile business for over 30 years. Prior to the sisters joining the family business, it was their mom who handled their stores in SM Megamall and Ayala Circuit focusing on big brand mobile phones and running everything in a brick and mortar system. Alexa, 26, and Caitlin, 24, both graduated from the Ateneo de Manila with degrees in BS Management. They joined the family business shortly before the pandemic changed the world as we know it.
The sisters had to adapt to the changing landscape fast, not so much to keep the family business afloat but to meet the increasing demand for electronics. People were transitioning to work-from-home and homeschooling. All too suddenly, gadgets such as phones and laptops became essentials to surviving a global crisis.
The shift of moving Titanium Mobile online came naturally, according to Alex.
“There was opportunity and no one else was operational, even online. We were able to cater to a need.”
Caitlin and Alexa didn't have a single day off during last year's community quarantine. The majority of their employees live in GCQ areas such that the lack of manpower was a major challenge in running their online store. In the earlier months of 2020, Titanium Mobile’s skeletal workforce consisted of just Caitlin, Alexa, and two trusted in-house riders who delivered the units to their customers.
The sisters made sure that the quality of service Titanium Mobile has been known for didn't suffer through all the challenges their business faced since the pandemic struck. They offered nationwide deliveries, with a same-day option in Metro Manila. You can purchase a phone online and have it in your hands in as fast as 40 minutes. A 100% secure payment system has also been a key contributor to the business’ success.
“Most customers don’t want to handle cash anymore,” said Alexa. “Since the integration of PayMongo on Shopify, 80-90% of processing has been made through PayMongo.”
In May 2020, Titanium Mobile was awarded Dealer of the Year for Samsung Philippines (Jan BC, which appears on the trophies is their corporate name). On May 22, Titanium Mobile reopened its physical store in SM Megamall. Despite the decline of economic activity in the country, they had customers lining up outside the store to shop. Mobile phones and work from home and homeschooling devices flew off the shelves. In October, Titanium Mobile held a sale where they dropped prices for mobile phones to up to 50% off.
“People went crazy. Our PayMongo sales were P300,000 to P400,000,” Alex said. This made up 50% of the company’s sales for one day alone. “There was a day when we couldn’t prepare our orders fast enough and we couldn’t fit the delivery schedule in one day even if there were two riders already. It was just crazy,” recalls Alex.
Taking over Titanium Mobile has allowed the Ngo sisters to experience first-hand both the good and bad sides of running a business.
“We’ve had a fraudulent case already. It was almost P250,000 worth of goods paid through PayMongo, but with Shopify’s fraud analysis and PayMongo's protection against fraud, we were able to catch it. We’ve learned that we have to be more cautious in validating whether an order is real or not," Alex said. “We’re always very diligent when it comes to paid orders and we always double check with the PayMongo dashboard. We always call the customer before we even schedule the delivery of their order. If we cannot reach a customer, we will not deliver regardless if it is paid for or not.”
Titanium Mobile has made a name for itself by being one of the country's most trusted electronic shops. As an authorized dealer of big brand mobile phones and accessories, the company guarantees that its items are 100 percent authentic, covered by a year-long warranty.
What first started as an online initiative in response to the pandemic has now become a full-on modern family enterprise led by its second-generation owners.
As young proprietors navigating through the highs and lows of running a business and going online for the first time, this is the advice that Alex gave to fellow millennials and Gen Zs who are going through the same challenges she and Caitlin dealt with:
"Don’t be afraid to learn and branch out from what you and your business are comfortable in. When presented with an opportunity to do so, take it and keep learning from whatever mistakes or achievements you may have along the way. Also, take initiative and keep yourself updated on what’s happening in your market/industry and see how you can adapt to make your business better."