�� Let your fingers do the shopping | Inquirer Business

Let your fingers do the shopping

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 02:22 AM October 23, 2016

More people now spend most of their days and nights online.

More people now spend most of their days and nights online.

Trixie (not her real name) is an addict. Thankfully, she’s hooked, not on drugs, but on stuff that could be just as costly: online shopping. The habit allows her to purchase anything anywhere, anytime.

“I’m online all the time, even when I’m in a mall. Even when I’m out, I sometimes shop online,” said this freelance writer.

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“But I wouldn’t say I’m addicted,” she said.

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Giggling, she backtracked: “[One of my friends] will probably say I am,” she said, adding that she buys at least one item online every week.

online shopping

Trixie gives a face to recent studies conducted by international research agencies that found one technological phenomenon common across all countries: more people now spend most of their days and nights online, thanks largely to the rise of smartphones.

The online shopping trend is driven by the universal need for convenience, according to a study by Euromonitor International, which showed that people are willing to spend more for online services to save time.

Lawyer Nadine Juanengo confirmed this.

“I started shopping online around three years ago when I was living alone and reviewing for the bar,” she said. “I didn’t have a lot of time to go to the mall but I needed some personal stuff so I resorted to buying online.”

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Dana Errazo, 29, who leads a busy career in corporate communications, and accounting staff Kris Barrios-Siongco, said as much.

“Traffic and crowds are an issue [for me] when going to malls. Safety is also another aspect I worry about, especially when commuting,” Siongco added.

Unique items

The thrill of finding unique items also drive people to shop online. The choices are unlimited since, aside from major websites, there are also smaller entrepreneurs who take advantage of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

When it comes to fashion items, majority of online shoppers are women, according to fashion website Zalora, citing their core customer demographic as being 70 percent female, aged 25 to 35, and are middle- to high-income earners, said Zalora creative director Fiona Araneta.

Another popular website, Lazada, offers a wider category of items, from fashion to health and beauty, to appliances and gadgets.

Based on its consumer data, Lazada’s clients are predominantly male. In the past six months, the site has received almost 60 million page views, 81 percent of which were by consumers aged 19 to 40 years old.

The convenience however comes at a price, among them the rigid exchange policy of some online shops and the sometimes long wait.

“I hate the wait!” said Trixie. “Here in the Philippines, returns and exchanges can be stressful to the point that I’d rather lose weight to fit into a wrongly sized garment than have it exchanged. Independent sellers here aren’t as customer service-oriented compared to the States.”

Identity theft

There are also two major risks shoppers face when making online purchases: identity theft and scams or bogus sellers.

Trixie recounted how her debit card was once “hacked” at a local gas station.

“Since I keep only about P3,000 at a time, it was a blessing when someone attempted to buy appliances online at Anson’s and the transactions wouldn’t go through. My bank immediately flagged the activity and I just had to cancel the card and get a new one,” she said.

Fortunately, Filipinos are a prudent bunch, attested Giancarlo Bonsel, general manager of buy-and-sell website OLX.ph.

“In the Philippines, institutionalized trust is lower compared to [other countries],” said Bonsel. “What I’ve come to learn is that Filipinos are quite reluctant to trust people they don’t know.”

What this means, he added, is that buyers seem to make it a point to investigate first whether or not a store or seller is credible enough before finalizing their purchases, at least when it comes to smaller or independent online stores.

Despite the risks, figures on online retail traffic and revenue now rival those of “offline” establishments which, in the Philippines, are mostly the huge malls.

Research by Kantar Retail, an international integrated retail solutions company, shows that total revenue from local e-commerce is expected to reach at least P145 billion by 2020, 1.8 percent (around P2.6 million) of which will come from retail sales.

Top sellers

Araneta said Zalora gets 20 million visits every month, with approximately 600,000 new visits daily. Their top-selling products for women are dresses, tops, ballet flats and nude lipsticks. The men mostly buy white sneakers and other sports shoes, white T-shirts and polo shirts.

Bonsel said OLX.ph, which also sells brand-new items despite being mainly a classifieds website, receives at least eight million visits monthly on both its mobile and desktop platforms.

Despite these numbers, both online and brick-and-mortar stores said they do not consider each other as competition. They actually complement each other’s services, since many physical establishments have themselves invested in an e-commerce component, while some retailers which started out online now make use of mall spaces or bazaars to further reach out to their customers.

Added Rowena Tomeldan, Ayala Malls group head:

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“Online shopping has not affected customer traffic in malls, because malls have evolved through the years and have gone beyond shopping. Malls have become one-stop centers [for] dining, entertainment and other services. Malls are also where families and friends get together.”

Good news, then, for people like Trixie, who will always find ways to get her shopping fix—be it online or offline. Ironically, though, it’s not the purchase she enjoys most.

“I guess it’s the thrill of the search,” she said.

TAGS: Lazada, OLX, online shopping, shopping, Zalora

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