As more Filipinos shop online, e-commerce becomes game changer

REGARDLESS of the nature of their business, local entrepreneurs are encouraged to adopt e-commerce strategies to take advantage of the growing online market.

Robert Gantuangco, director and co-founder of Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines (DCOM.ph) said there is robust potential for e-commerce to grow in the Philippines, on the back of the country’s strong 41 percent Internet penetration rate.

“Almost all Filipinos now are mobile, with 25 percent of the population smartphone users. This makes the Philippines a prime market for e-commerce,” said Gantuangco during the recently held Cebu ICT-BPM Conference.

With this development, he urged local entrepreneurs to embrace e-commerce so they could grow their businesses and expand their target markets, including those overseas.

“The digital tide is rising. A lot of merchants now, especially in the Philippines, are selling cross-border,” said Gantuanco. “And the trend will continue with a lot more people shifting online.”

Growth of cross-border selling via American online payment firm Paypal stood at 23 percent year-on-year.

He noted that since the birth of the digital economy in 2000, seven foreign-origin websites, namely, Amazon, Lazada, Metro Deal, Alibaba, Ali Express, Ebay and Zalora, have become the most visited shopping destinations by Filipino Internet users, according to Alexa.com.

The Philippine’s share in terms of users for PayPal is 39 percent versus other local online banking websites.

With the continued boom of the digital age, local retailers are slowly shifting online to broaden their customer base. Many Filipino merchants are selling various items to countries like Canada, United States, Thailand, Russia and the Middle East.

Emerging young entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are taking advantage of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to jumpstart their business.

“Twenty-five percent of online activity is online shopping and the most active online shoppers are between 25 and 34 years old,” he said.

Citing a study, Gantuanco said 65 percent of Metro Manila’s online shoppers are female while 29 percent are from Visayas and Mindanao.

Top five items females buy online are apparel and accessories, electronics and computers, shoes, household products, and beauty and wellness items. The top picks for males include electronics and computers, apparel and accessories, discounts and deals, household products and shoes.

“People shop online to avoid traffic going to malls. They also prefer online shopping because they can shop anywhere and anytime using their mobile devices. It’s a lot easier and convenient,” said Clarisa Briones, chief executive officer of Pinoy Great Deals.

Asked if security on credit card payments is still a big issue for online retailing to thrive in the country, Paulo Campos, co-founder and managing director of Zalora Philippines said it isn’t a big problem since payment modes these days are not limited to credit cards.

“The rise of online retailing paved the way for the emergence of alternative payment solutions. Use of credit card only accounts for three percent,” he said.

To remain successful in online retailing, Gantuanco said retailers have to build their own community, invest in reliable Internet connection and increase the selection of their products.

E-commerce also opens business opportunities in sales and after-sales support service, warehouse and shipping, payment collection, import and exports.

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