The State Of The Philippines’ eCommerce: How Retail Brands Benefit



Today, we live in a world of the Fourth Industrial Revolution where the physical world is slowly merging with digital processes and technologies continually blurring the line between the two. Social interactions and word of mouth conversations are now amplified through social media, content is consumed on-demand through platforms like Spotify and Netflix, and, finally, brick-and-mortar stores migrating their products to e-commerce platforms like Lazada. For brands, entrepreneurs, and small-medium enterprises (SMEs), it is always critical to be on top of the trends and be able to adapt to these changes. 

Digital has brought a wealth of information that business owners can now use for their advantage; from knowing the market’s taste, where the consumers prefer to shop, to what is the market’s preference when it comes to the mode of payment. All these in real time and in their own dashboards. But if there is an erratic movement on the consumers’ behavior, how do retails brands adapt quickly to these changes? 

We have witnessed in 2017 several major events for the world of e-commernce in Southeast Asia. In fact, it was only last year that Lazada had a record-breaking sales of a whopping USD250 million for its online revolution campaign.

According to the business insider, “The massive sales volume is a clear sign that the [online revolution] campaign is Southeast Asia’s biggest shopping phenomenon that has grabbed the attention of millions of consumers and provided them unprecedented access to products they want, love and need.”

As e-commerce is doing pretty well in Southeast Asia, and the Philippines is currently on an upward trend when it comes to online shopping, Lazada recently announced to help cultivate eight million e-commerce entrepreneurs and SMEs by 2030.

With an understanding that e-commerce is the future of the digital economy, Lazada has made it its mission to equip and prepare SMEs to be more e-commerce savvy as they recognize that doing so will help unlock the full potential of Southeast Asian nations, allowing the region to digitize ergo helping economies to grow. 

Keeping The Brands Relevant

For many brands, whether they’re part of the fashion or beauty industry, the best advantage of having their products on e-commerce platforms is they are able to get real-time insights. Businesses are able to see how many times their products are viewed, by whom, and if these eyeballs have been converted into sales. And according to L’Oreal’s Country Managing Director Thibault de Saint Victor, the landscape of e-commerce actually “helps the brand to stay relevant these days.” 

As for the customer experience, to continuously improve the experience for online shoppers, e-commerce businesses can actually leverage the data and technology they have to navigate specific local consumer tastes and direct the consumers to take desired actions when it comes to online shopping. It also helps them to customize their message, only sending messages and products that are relevant to a specific set of consumers. 

This is why through the technology powered by data and insights, e-commerce platforms like Lazada “enables small businesses to connect with their shoppers through a trusted platform, providing them the opportunity to build their businesses and tap into the vast potential that Southeast Asia presents,” explained by Simon Baptist, Global Chief Economist and managing Director of Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) in Asia. In a way, consumers have become co-creators of brands and businesses as their feedback are already taken into account when products are being developed.   

Trust Is The Key

While online shoppers are increasing, Baptist mentioned that there are still consumer issues that need to be addressed. “There is also the issue of trust. For most people in the Philippines, they only buy [from e-commerce] usually once a year, or once a month. They’re not using it every week or every day. For most people, it is just something they try. They hardly use it every day because they don’t have the confidence to do it,” he shared. “In a survey done in 200 countries around the world, we found that consumers in the Philippines had lesser numbers than the others.”

Baptist explained that it is very important that brands must consistently maintain to have their customers’  trust and privacy. There is also a need to continually give good quality products, and ensure that the process of returns will be smooth and efficient. “You would also realize that once somebody starts buying today but they lose their confidence in you [because of the product], then they won’t take anything from you anymore,” Baptist explained.

It’s still in its infancy

According to UNICEF special advocate Daphne Osena-Paez, based on online auctions she did before, “people are willing to give and spend and buy things that they never even touched or seen. So we thought that there’s really something there and we haven’t even reached the tip because it is still in its infancy.”

The reason that online auctions, which is another form of eCommerce, have been around for quite some time now is because it can equip the power of targeted, effective marketing. Things such as search engine optimization (SEO) and keywords actually help brands reach the right kind of audience. Thus, it makes communication and targeting sharper only reaching people who are interested with your brand and what you have to offer.

As a matter of fact, Osena-Paez shared that “in 2017, we got this idea we called Auction for Action which was an online auction. So in 2015 when APEC happened in the Philippines, Kenneth Cobonpue donated the chairs on which the heads of states sat on. Then it was so quick that in two weeks, there was a live online auction for two hours and we generated over 8 million pesos.”

The Next Big Thing

As e-commerce is continually teeming the industry with countless of products they present to the market, this is the next big thing for retail brands—from technology, automotive, fashion, beauty, and many more. Redefining the platform, mode of payments, and even the currency, we may well assume that we are at the onset of the renaissance of commerce where the new world is digital. 

Taking this big opportunity, which is also just in time for the holidays where the buying power of the consumers are almost at its peak, Southeast Asia’s top e-commerce player Lazada will have the biggest one-day shopping and selling event in the region.

Called as the “Lazada 11.11 Shopping Festival,” it will allow shoppers to take advantage of products that are on sale ranging up to 90 percent off. For 24-hours starting midnight of November 11, consumers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines can get more than 50 million deals.

Faye Jessica Yoingco also contributed to this article.
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