FB study: Target buyers online as number of mall goers shrinking
MANILA, Philippines — Small and medium local businesses are urged to tap e-commerce services this holiday season as fewer people go to malls and stores for their holiday shopping.
A Facebook-commissioned study, which surveyed 1,501 adult respondents in the Philippines, showed that there was 7 percent decline in the number of people who did their 2017 and 2018 holiday shopping in malls.
Facebook Philippines Country Director John Rubio said that possibly part of the reason people don’t go to malls anymore is hellish traffic in Metro Manila.
Another reason, he said, was the convenience of shopping from the comforts of home online.
Rubio, in a forum on Thursday, Oct. 10, said people who still go to malls still rely on their mobile phones to browse for gift suggestions.
The Facebook 2019 Holiday study found that 73 percent of shoppers use their phones while they are browsing for gifts in stores or in malls. This is 10 percent higher than that recorded last year, it noted.
Of the number, 69 percent compare prices, 61 percent compare products, and 60 percent read product reviews.
Rubio also noted that the number of people shopping digitally for the holiday season “has grown significantly from one year to the other,” where spikes in online consumer activity usually occurring in November and December.
He said, however, that majority of Christmas shoppers “take action early” and buy or prepare gifts as early as October.
Singles Day (November 11), 12/12, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are among the most popular online shopping dates, the study said.
“Almost close to one out of two people will have a digital shopping experience in one of the shopping days,” Rubio said.
The study also found that holiday shopping season extends up to January primarily because people take advantage of additional holiday sales.
Fifty-two percent of respondents said they still shop in January because of bargains, while 43 percent said they want to buy new things for the New Year.
Some 3 out of 10 persons said they shop in January as malls are “less busy” and there is “less traffic.”
Thirty percent of respondents also said they use gift cards they received during the holiday season to purchase new things.
Online videos also help people decide what to buy for the holidays, the study found.
Respondents said during the holiday season, they like watching videos that feature families (67%). Others prefer videos that get them in a holiday mood (58%) or give them holiday gift ideas (58%).
The Facebook Philippines official encouraged small-to-medium businesses in the country to tap free resources to help them bring their products online.
“I think businesses need to have a clear digital strategy because I think it’s now an actual channel of business,” he said.
He added that holiday statistics show that “the trajectory is more and more digital or e-commerce.”
“I think businesses need to get prepared and it needs to be a core part of their strategy. It needs to be ingrained in everything they do already and plan for,” Rubio said.
For those planning to go online selling, it might be helpful to note that according to the Facebook study, nine of out of ten people are more likely to make a purchase if they are able to contact businesses on instant messaging services.
This drives the importance of being able to engage customers on a more personal level, Rubio said.
The study said that people usually message a business during the holiday season to find out more details about a product (66%), to purchase a product (58%), to track an order (58%), to find shopping details (56%), and to find store information (47%).
Facebook Philippines has ongoing programs that provide free seminars and workshops to help local entrepreneurship thrive.
On Tuesday, the social media firm conducted its “Festive Bootcamp in Manila” where 200 Manila-based small-to-medium businesses attended seminars and workshops about running a business on Facebook easier.
This helped participants to brush up on digital knowhow and learn about new tools and templates to save time and effort, especially during the holiday season, which is the busiest time of the year.
“With festive boost, we want to provide small and medium-sized businesses access to market insights and tools that can help them plan for an extended holiday season for their customers,” Rubio said.
He said business owners do not necessarily have to be “tech-savvy” to be able to go into e-commerce.
“It’s about how entrepreneurial and innovative you are,” he said./TSB
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