CAINTA, Philippines — This is the age of online shopping, as reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people had no choice but rely on online shopping for their needs because going out for in-person shopping posed so much danger to one’s health.
And yet, even as people still continue to add to their digital carts, Filipino shoppers are undoubtedly finding their way back to physical retail stores. Holding on to digital shopping habits developed during the pandemic, or going back to old in-store shopping habits that you totally enjoyed during pre-pandemic times?
The tech-enabled market research firm, Agile Data Solutions Inc., recently conducted a nationwide study through its Hustle PH mobile app. It was aimed at providing directional scenarios and insights into lasting Filipino consumer behavior trends.
Online shopping habits
Why can’t Filipino shoppers give up online shopping totally now that they can do in-store shopping anytime they want?
Price check. It is easier to check prices and canvass or compare prices and deals from different stores. It takes only a few minutes to browse multiple retailers online, and there is no need to physically move from one store to another or experience horrendous traffic in doing so.
It is more convenient to order essentials online and have them delivered straight to the house. The study reveals that 92% of surveyed adults were able to save money by purchasing essential items online. They also prefer online shopping platforms like Shopee and Lazada, with 76% of respondents taking advantage of sales and vouchers and 34% using free shipping promos to save money.
Bulk buying of essentials. A significant percentage of consumers buy familiar, fast-moving consumer goods and commodities in bulk. These include tissue rolls, diapers, and other household essentials. Since online shoppers are already familiar with such items, they feel safe buying these in bulk, so such items are the most saleable among online shops. Survey shows that 50% of online buyers buy essential items in bulk, with 28% citing attractive discount prices as the primary motivation and 26% stressing the need to stock up on essentials as the deciding factor for bulk buying.
“Revenge spending” is real. After a long series of lockdowns, “revenge spending” has emerged, fueling 45% of shoppers to buy items they like on the spot, without canvassing or comparing prices anymore. Nonetheless, 83% still compare prices on different online shopping platforms before making a purchase.
Cash on delivery (COD). Some 71% of surveyed shoppers prefer COD as term of payment for their online purchase, not because they lack knowledge of tech integrations but because they lack trust in the product delivered. They have to see the product first before they make a payment.
One of the biggest concerns regarding online shopping, though, is the authenticity and quality of the products that they receive when they make an online purchase. Sometimes, the product that arrives is inferior to the one they thought they were buying. So shoppers rely heavily on product reviews to guide them in making purchase decisions.
In-person shopping habits
While the study reveals that consumers prefer to buy familiar commodities and essentials online, 77% still prefer in-store shopping when it comes to unknown products. This trend suggests that the sensory appeal and visceral experience of on-site shopping cannot be outdone by the convenience of online shopping. After all, about 33% of survey respondents believe online shopping only serves as an alternative to in-store shopping and not a complete replacement for it.
Striking a balance. Shoppers maintain a balance between online shopping and in-store purchases. The numbers show it—45% of those surveyed said they have made a purchase in a physical store less than a week ago, while 54% has reported having ordered something online during the same time frame.
Instant gratification. For 32% of the survey respondents, the instant gratification they get when they receive the item they purchased in an in-person shopping trip is incomparable. As soon as they pay, they get to bring the item home, and it is exactly as they see it. They even get to touch and scrutinize it before purchase. Almost half of the participants, at 49%, appreciate the sense of certainty that comes with knowing they have a physical store to go back to in case the product turns out to be defective.
Unbeatable after-sale services. Forty-one percent of those surveyed believe that on-site purchases still outshine online shopping when it comes to after-sale services.
A symbiotic relationship
“It is not a battle between online vs. brick-and-mortar stores. On the contrary, our market data shows that these two channels are evolving into a symbiotic relationship,” said Jason Gaguan, Agile Data Solutions’ founder. “The lockdowns during the pandemic have indeed jumpstarted the e-commerce revolution, but as we transition to a more open 'new normal,' we see consumers becoming omnichannel shoppers. Consumers take in the best of both worlds: the ease of deal hunting in e-commerce and the rewarding experience and efficiency of physical shopping.”
Gaguan further explains how product mix between channels is evolving: “Commodities and popular products which are familiar to consumers are being deal-hunted online while more expensive products are merely searched online for ‘research purposes’ with the final purchases still concluded in physical stores. E-commerce channels then serve as online catalogs of physical stores for higher-priced products. This evolving symbiosis is a market movement we continue to track, and we are very excited to see where this all goes.”
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