Freeman Cebu Business

Online shopping culture remains subdued in Philippines

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Although Filipino consumers are now starting to embrace online transactions, such as for paying bills and shopping, Cebuano retail giants however think the Philippines still has a long way to go to fully adapt the online shopping culture.         

Golden ABC Inc., president and chief executive officer Bernie Liu said that the Philippines still has to grow in terms of card-based payment culture before it could successfully step into the online shopping culture.

Liu, whose company operates several Filipino-developed brands like Penshoppe, For Me, Oxygen, Regatta, among others said that the Filipino consumer culture is seen to traverse another five years or more in order to provide a good landscape for online shopping.

At present, he said although there is growth in digital-based retail concept, such as its partnership with Zalora, the Philippines is still largely a cash-based economy.

Liu, who is also the past national president of Philippine Retailers Association, expressed that opening physical stores, even outside the Philippines, is still a more feasible move compared to totally shifting to virtual store concepts.

Earlier, Benedicto Villanueva, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of GFK Retail and Technology Philippines advised retailers to "cross-over" or blend-in to the online shopping highway, instead of being threatened by the popularity of digital shopping.

Experts have found out that maintaining an online presence at the same time operating the traditional "brick and mortar" are both important to stay in the business.

According to Villanueva while online shopping has not really taken off well in the Philippines yet, it is clear that even in developed countries, "brick and mortar" stores are much more alive downplaying impressions that online shopping could kill physical stores.

'Brick And Mortar' is a traditional "street-side" business that deals with its customers face to face in an office or store that the business owns or rents. The local grocery store and the corner bank are examples of "brick and mortar" companies.

After the much hyped digital and online shopping in recent years, the market has shifted back to "brick and mortar" because buyers still want to touch and feel the product, see it before they will decide to purchase. (FREEMAN)

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