Best avenues to sell online in the Philippines
An estimated 45.4 million Filipinos are on Facebook encompassing almost all ages. Facebook has very low requirements in being part of its community and selling online is as easy as posting a photo. Even students have engaged in online selling due to its very low capitalization requirements and the rise of acceptance in cash on delivery payments. A usual physical store would immediately put you to spend 30,000 pesos at the very least.
Facebook would usually be the testing grounds for newbie online sellers. It is also well-equipped in marketing and advertising tools in case sellers would like to scale up their promotions and reach. The micro-entrepreneurs first touch the ground is Facebook.
Competition is high for most products due to the low barriers to entry. Nevertheless, the presence of a big number of sellers shows how much the market is accessible.
Lazada sells fashion apparel, electronics, car accessories, and home appliances products that Filipinos extensively use and shop for. Its usage is reflected also with big local Filipino retailers like SM Supermalls making sure they are accessible via Lazada, which is now a testament to Lazada’s audience reach.
It has huge backing from the Chinese giant, Alibaba. This has given Lazada a huge war chest for products and has more sellers than all of its competitors. It launched Lazmall, based on Alibaba’s Taobao Mall, which guarantees the selling of 100% authentic products which is a great advantage considering concerns of product legitimacy.
It is a recipient of the iPrice E-Commerce Merchant Awards (iEMA), Southeast Asia’s preeminent awards voted and judged by online consumers. Lazada outpaces its competitors. According to the iprice insights (iprice.ph) which presents the Map of E-Commerce the Philippines’ top e-commerce participants choose Lazada based on mobile app usage, average quarterly traffic and followers in various social media sites. In 2017, Lazada scored a total average visit of 25,652,100 during the first quarter of the year according to various surveys.
Initially, Shopee played second fiddle to Lazada. But over the years, it has managed to catch up and is now toe to toe with Lazada. It has also spent significant investment on marketing, hiring Filipina Actress Anne Curtis and having famous noontime host Willie Revillame has an entire show focused on promoting Shoppee alone. These initiatives show that Shoppee wants to establish dominance in the field.
Shopee is known to have better customer support and cheaper products as well. These are probably two reasons why it has managed to catch up to Lazada. It has policies like Shopee Guarantee which works by holding the payment to a seller and releasing it only when the buyer confirms receiving the order in good condition. Shopee has lower commission costs for sellers and lower shipping costs for buyers.
Zalora comes after Lazada and Shoppee. Interface wise, we see right away its core difference between the two. Lazada and Shoppee opt for a youthful and fun design, Zalora has approached it on the opposite pole with black and white hues and a more formal tone.
To also capture a bigger market in the Philippine sector, it has partnered with social media icons like Georgina-Wilson Burnand, Isabelle Daza-Semblat, Liz Uy and Soleen Heusaff-Bolzico for certain exclusive brands. Seeing those endorses, we can better get a feel of how Zalora wants to brand itself, a more sophisticated tone and a more differentiated market.
The world’s leading e-commerce site shows why it’s the dominant force globally. Despite being outperformed by Lazada and Shoppee, it still manages to cut a share of the market.
However, it lags down in Asian presence in terms of promotions. Lazada and Shoppee have touched the Philippine market to the point Filipinos have made Facebook groups just to talk about the best deals in Lazada and Shoppee. Shoppers would even notify peers of vouchers and good deals. Filipinos would usually go to Amazon for brands not locally available.
Future of online selling
Although most sources such as the World Bank have data showing the geography and financial literacy has made it hard for global brands to establish a national reach, there is much room for growth and innovation. The geographical setup of the Philippines has paved way for local and small entrepreneurs to get a market share without due effort.
If you live on an island in the Philippines much like the Visayan region, this is a chance for you to compete better. But it is not lost for global brands as this means hiring towards locales familiar with the region should be a priority if the supply chain process is to be mastered.