Online shopping in RP
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2019 - 12:00am

Global e-commerce platform, which provides discount coupons for online stores, recently released a report about online shopping in the Philippines.

According to the report, more and more Filipinos have joined the mobile commerce bandwagon. What is interesting though is that half of the online transactions were made using a mobile device last year.

I can relate to that. I admit, I make most of my purchases online, mostly things that I do not really need. Just last week, I bought everything from golf shirts to mushroom chicharon and veggie meat to groceries and food delivery online. It is so convenient, especially when the sellers allow purchases to be paid upon delivery. I do my online transactions on my mobile phone and I chance upon many crazy stuff when I am bored, or in traffic, or simply waiting.

Picodi’s report revealed that when Filipinos did shopping with the use of a phone, the average order value was P3,997, which is P382 more than when using desktops (P3,615) and P138 less when using tablets (P4,135). It also notes that iOS users spend more than Android users, or P4,605 versus P3,958 on the average.

The same report showed that there were more purchases made by Filipino women than those made by men at 62 percent and 38 percent, respectively and that more than half of all online shoppers or 52 percent were people between the ages of 25 and 34, followed by people aged 19-24 (26 percent) and 35-44 (13 percent). The remaining nine percent are consumers who are over 45 years old.

Picodi’s research says that the average order value of a Filipino shopper is the highest in June at P5,409, followed by May and March at P4,494 and P4,143. Surprisingly, the average order value in November when Black Friday and 11.11 takes place is only a moderate P3,604. Picodi explained that this is because even though their baskets are smaller during that time, Filipinos shop from a number of different online stores and place more orders. Yes, vividly remember 11.11 and how online shops like Zalora, Lazada, Shopee offered so many items on sale. It was the perfect opportunity to do advance Christmas shopping.

And it is precisely because of Black Friday (Nov. 29) and 11.11 (Nov. 11) that November has the highest number of transactions, accounting for 15.4 percent of all transactions made during the year. The same number of transactions was noted in December (15.4 percent), followed by January (13.2 percent), which is due to last-minute Christmas shoppers.

The lowest number of transactions, Picodi noted, was in July at 2.3 percent with the average order value amounting to P3,618. This, I can explain. After school enrolment in June, who has money left to spend for shopping?

The same report also showed that consumers in the Philippines shop the most on Fridays, and preferably in the afternoon, with peak sales occurring between 12 pm and 6 pm. I would venture an explain for this. This period includes office and school lunch breaks, and being in traffic coming home from work. Again, when there is nothing to do, people nowadays either watch movies or tv series on Netflix or they go online shopping.

The most popular categories for online shopping among Filipinos were food on delivery, clothing, grocery, cosmetics and perfumes, and electronics.

Picodi analyzed data from 35 countries and compared the devices people use to shop online and the average order value and saw that the Philippines, with 49 percent of orders made on mobile devices, is among the countries where mobile shopping is on the rise. Peru is number one, with 76 percent of online purchases made with the use of smartphones followed by Nigeria and Thailand at 62 percent and 56 percent.

In particular, Filipinos made 49 percent of orders on smartphones, 49 percent on computers, and two percent on tablets, with average order value at $52. Emiratis spent the most money per order at $218.

Let us see how other ASEAN countries performed. Thais spent an average of $43 online, the Vietnamese $41, Filipinos $52, Indonesians $58, Malaysians $41. Hongkong people spent only an average of $21 per order online.

There are advantages to shopping using mobile phones. A newspaper report quoted Facebook Philippines country director John Rubio (who cited data from Facebook 2018 Holiday Study) as saying that shopping via mobile phones makes people well-informed shoppers of products since they are able to research about an item they want to buy and compare prices across brands, thus getting the best deals available.

Based on the same Facebook study, it was shown that 50 percent of the respondents prefer purchasing products online because it is more convenient than going to stores.

Rubio, in the same article, said that shoppers use Facebook and Instagram to find gift ideas for their loves ones for Christmas. In 2018, Facebook recorded an 18 percent increase in mobile first shoppers in the Philippines, 70 percent of which are millennials.

I believe that the biggest benefit of shopping online is that it allows microenterprises to flourish. One does not need to have a physical store nowadays to do business. You do not need to have a huge overhead in terms of renting physical space or hiring people if you are just starting. Digital marketing is the buzzword these days.  All you need to know is how to take good and interesting pictures, how to describe your product using attention-grabbing words, and voila, you can post your products on Instagram, Facebook, or join online shopping platforms. Gone were the days when people need to touch, feel, taste, see, hear the products physically. You don’t even need a high-tech camera to take good pictures. Just know how to best use your phone’s camera, how to best describe your item, and then you can start having your first item sold online.

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