By Isabelle Karina C. Romualdez
Coming into the second year of the pandemic, Southeast Asia’s leading e-commerce aggregator, iPrice Group, studied how this has affected the online economy thus far.
Based on their Map of E-commerce Yearend 2020 report, the Philippines’ online shopping sites experienced a 21% surge of web visits in 2020. The Philippines had the second-highest surge in Southeast Asia, right behind Singapore (35%).
Across all countries in Southeast Asia, the report also reveals that the overall website traffic of online shopping platforms increased positively across all countries year-over-year.
Suffice to say, online shopping is more in-demand than ever due to the pandemic. That said, which online sites and product categories boomed and busted?
Interestingly enough, electronics sites at the beginning of the pandemic year experienced quite a surge. In the first half of the year, iPrice’s previous report unveiled that these sites’ traffic increased by 59% compared to 2019. However, in the succeeding months afterward, these sites’ traffic started to dramatically decline. The web visits of tech e-commerce sites decreased by a shocking 83%, comparing Q1 with Q4.
Another surprising observation is that fashion sites & products are gaining back their momentum. At the beginning of 2020, fashion sites were falling out of favor across Southeast Asia. However, at the end of the year, Filipinos spent the most on fashion products, with an average basket size of US$40 (Php 1,947). Fashion e-commerce sites experienced an 18% surge of web visits as well, comparing Q1 with Q4. This goes to show that people are back to dressing to impress as the lockdowns started to ease.
Recently, the Philippine government is starting to place stricter lockdowns again in Metro Manila, where a bulk of online shopping comes from. Hence, as the second wave carries on, iPrice predicts that demand and purchase of fashion items may potentially decline again.
In terms of the average basket size, there is a very small difference between 2020 and 2019. There was just a 4% or a US$1 (Php49) decrease in the amount spent in 2020. Even though web visits soared higher in 2020, the amount spent online remained almost the same.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that online sales have necessarily gone down. This could just mean that there was a reallocation of needs as Filipinos shopping more for essentials than expensive hobby items or non-essentials, especially since many Filipinos have either lost their jobs or received pay cuts.
Even though the Philippines’ average online spending remained somewhat the same, Southeast Asia as a whole saw an increase. iPrice Group’s platform found that consumers in Southeast Asia spent an overall average of US$32 (Php1,557) per order in 2020, which was 19% higher than 2019’s. The Philippines’ average spending is $11 (Php538) lower than the entire region, which could be attributed to costs of living and other pandemic factors, such as shorter lockdowns or government-provided financial support in other countries.
The increase in the region’s average spend could be attributed to countries like Singapore and Malaysia, which saw the highest average basket size of US$61 (Php2,969) and US$41 (Php1,995) respectively in 2020. Both countries have flattened the curve at least once in 2020. Residents in countries like Malaysia were also able to receive financial aid from the government, which gives them more purchasing power than residents in the Philippines.
These unprecedented shifts in Southeast Asia have presented a sign of digital acceleration in online retail despite the global pandemic that affects consumers in the region. It is a matter of time that the Philippines catches up with the digitalization trend.
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Isabelle Karina C. Romualdez is the Content Marketing Executive at iPrice