Online Shopping Trends: Are We Seeing the End of Shopping Malls in the Philippines?

    Manila; There is no denying the increased presence and growth of online shopping. Convenience, ease of transaction, no traffic, and a variety of platforms are among the reasons why many Filipinos are now opting to make their purchases online. Whereas before, digital commerce was confined to those with credit cards, laptops or PCs, today buyers can simply use their mobile phones and pay cash on delivery.

    Last September 9, Lazada and Shopee, two of the well-known e-commerce sites in the Philippines, held a massive online sale.  Consumers were all abuzz, the social media data reflected that people were staying up late,making multiple purchases. The online sentiments were collected by RTL Research and Tech Lab, a digital research and consulting company that gathers,  filters, examines, and translates publicly available digital data into simple and actionable information.

    Butas bulsa! Lazada and Shoppee 9.9 Sale! Grabe, ang daming sobrang baba ng presyo! (Burned a hole in my pocket! Lazada and Shopee 9.9 Sale! There are lots of items at really low prices!),” posted one netizen on her social media account.  Another said, “99.9% ng reason bakit ako gising is 9.9 Shoppee sale. (99.9% of the reason why I am awake is 9.9 Shopee sale.)” Other netizens admitted to hoarding stuff and buying things even if they have no need for it just because it was on sale.

    But, as expected, there are still those who expressed their dissatisfaction regarding the sale. Their complaints ranged from app glitches to cancelled orders, expensive shipping fees to undelivered packages.

    Meanwhile, online sentiments for food delivery apps such as Honest Bee and Food Panda exhibited mixed results positive sentiments include appreciation for promotions and discounts, wide range of restaurant selections, and fast delivery. Complaints on the other hand, varies from poor customer service, cancelled orders, and orders that were not received but were already paid for.

    Is the end near?

    In America, formerly successful malls are now resembling abandoned warehouses. Looking more like ghost towns, the once vibrant malls have become shadows of their former hustle and bustle. Big name brands in the US are also reeling from the effect of their online competitors, with some even closing shop.

    Interestingly, despite the growing popularity of digital commerce, majority of Filipinos still prefer traditional shopping.  Online sentiments read by RTL Research and Tech Lab from July-September 2018 showed 68.81% are still in favor of traditional shopping. The data revealed that although shoppers are drawn to the appeal of purchasing online for reasons such as no checkout queues, 24/7 access to stores, and available reviews for products, many are still wary of site legitimacy. Others also prefer to physically inspect the product before making a purchase while for some, the cost of shipping as well as the delivery time become deal breakers.

    Being able to try on merchandise and personally examining a product before heading for checkout allows the customer to feel confident about their purchase.  Taking the item with them immediately after paying likewise gives them peace of mind.

    Profiles of engagers who shop online as well as in brick and mortar stores showed that majority are in the 18-31 age bracket. A study conducted by Dilip Lalwani in 2016 revealed that young customers worldwide readily switch channels while shopping as they search online to buy offline. The need to personally see, feel and try the product to ensure quality is of prime importance to them when making their choice. Price only came in second.

    Nowadays technology has changed the shopper’s journey by blurring lines and creating new stages where buyers can easily switch channels from online to offline— searching online to buy offline and vice versa. The use of more than one channel has given Filipino buyers more opportunities that go beyond the traditional.

    For now, it is safe to say that malls still play an integral part in the life of a Filipino consumer as traditional shopping remains their mode of choice.

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