PH posts highest growth in shopping apps usage in ASEAN

Published October 14, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippines experienced the highest increase in the usage of shopping apps in Southeast Asia in the second quarter this year, according to a report on the impact of COVID-19 on online shopping behaviors among six countries in the region.

Data from iPrice Group’s Map of E-commerce report, in collaboration with App Annie and SimilarWeb, showed the Philippines increased its usage of shopping apps by 53 percent in the second quarter versus the first quarter this year. The Philippines has the highest increase in usage of online shopping apps in the second quarter among 6 ASEAN countries – Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

iPrice, Southeast Asia’s leading e-Commerce aggregator, gives insights on how consumer behavior has shifted due to social distancing during this period of pandemic. Likewise, it gives an idea of how the country’s multinational and local e-commerce players are adapting, given the unexpected worldwide pandemic.

 According to the report, the total sessions in shopping apps in the country reached 4.9 billion. It’s expected that e-commerce players in countries that underwent strict social distancing measures experienced growth in mobile app usage/downloads, but it is still important to note the country’s

hastened growth.

iPrice hypothesizes that the Philippines is now catching up to its Southeast Asian peers in terms of digital adaptations, especially since e-Commerce and digital services were not as accessible in the country. Brick-and-mortar stores still deemed to be more profitable. Given the country’s strict lockdown measures, however, the country’s economy is now forced to adapt.

This can also be seen in data from Statista, which shows that 44 percent of Filipinos aged 35-44 purchased more online during COVID-19. Moreover, iPrice’s previous study earlier this year also revealed that Filipinos were looking up Wifi Adapters 518 percent more as they gear up to spend more of their time online.

Though the Philippines may not be as savvy with e-commerce as its other Southeast Asian peers like Indonesia or Singapore, its gradual adaptation is still pretty evident.

Overall, the iPrice Group’s Map of E-commerce report revealed that Southeast Asians are spending more money online this year, comparing the first half of 2020 with the first half of 2019. The average basket size (amount added to an online cart) immensely increased in each country.

But notably, iPrice said the Philippines had the highest increase in basket size (57%) compared to its neighbors. In iPrice’s platform alone, Filipinos now spend about P1,311 month on average.

With the coronavirus pandemic reshaping purchasing habits, the latest Map of E-Commerce report revealed how the pandemic inevitably drove the PH’s online economy to catch up with its Southeast Asian neighbors.

It noted that fashion retail sites are falling out of favor. Fashion e-Commerce sites have taken the biggest hit regionwide as clothing and apparel become less of a priority while people are staying home.

Each country’s fashion websites recorded by iPrice and SimilarWeb have experienced a collective decrease in web traffic.

In the Philippines, fashion sites’ web traffic collectively decreased by 30 percent compared to last year’s, while electronics sites increased by a glaring 59 percent. “This proves Filipinos’ increased demand for gadgets during social distancing. Compared to other SEA countries, the Philippines had the highest web traffic increase in electronics sites. In fact, e-sites in other countries (except Singapore) even experienced a decrease in web traffic,” iPrice said.

Sports/outdoor products are the most ordered in Southeast Asia. Out of all the other categories, sports and outdoor products obtained the highest growth in average orders, which reached an increase of 34 percent compared to last year. The average amount spent on these products is $28 (Php 1,361). With restrictions imposed on outdoor/sports activities, it’s a given that consumers are adapting.

With the unexpected virus reshaping these consumer trends, e-Commerce players switch up their 2020 promotional strategies to adapt to the situation. E-Commerce giants like Lazada PH and Shopee PH had bountiful free-shipping promos across the year. They added a number of promos on essential goods too.

Meanwhile, local player Beauty MNL offered numerous discounts/promos on vitamins and supplements.

With the rising trend of online shopping in the country, the Philippines’ Internet economy may just be getting the push it needs.

“The Philippines is known to survive with cash-based transactions and brick-and-mortar stores, but perhaps its inevitable adaptation to COVID-19 will allow the country’s digital world to catch up to its more developed Southeast Asian neighbors. E-Commerce players then now have a responsibility to keep encouraging this rising trend, while emerging local merchants are now presented with more potential opportunities,” the report concluded.