Over the last two and a half months when Metro Manila and many parts of the country were under varying degrees of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce site Lazada noted that many people used their time to learn a new skill — including making their own milk teas at home — as their customers bought quite a few interesting things while on lockdown.

“We’ve definitely seen a significant shift in what Filipinos are searching for and adding to their cart in Lazada during the ECQ. While most Filipinos have been turning to Lazada for their essential needs, many have also been buying products to help them learn a new skill or create family bonding moments,” Neil Trinidad, Lazada Philippines’ chief marketing officers, said in a statement.

Among the products they saw their customers were buying during lockdown were tapioca pearls to satisfy milk tea cravings, baking and cooking equipment, makeup (for office video conferences), yoga mats, DJ equipment, inflatable swimming pools, and loungewear.

Lazada said they sold nearly 30,000 loungewear sets, 65,000 yoga mats, and 140,000 inflatable pools during the lockdown.

The company also noticed a “15 times increase in orders of essential goods,” such as groceries and cleaning supplies.

As people were ordered to stay at home to stem the spread of the virus, many opted to go online shopping to get their essentials. Throughout the lockdown period from mid-March to May, Lazada saw a “gradual increase of demand for products like fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and rice, and have expanded our categories on the platform. This was considered in low demand prior to the [enhanced community quarantine],” according to an e-mail sent to BusinessWorld.

With the increased demand for fresh food, the platform introduced Lazada Fresh that features sellers who will deliver orders using their own delivery fleet to ensure product freshness.

More business owners have also decided to go digital, as Lazada reported that the number of sellers and brands joining the platform in the first half of 2020 was twice the number it had during the same period in 2019.

People also spent more time on the Lazada website and app as the duration of each visit “has almost doubled,” with users spending approximately 15 minutes on Lazada per visit compared to the period before the lockdown.

“This has also led to more than a 9% increase in transactions occurring on the Lazada app,” the company said.

Lazada also noticed more traffic during lunchtime — previous peak hours were in the evenings from 8 to 9 p.m. — likely due to people browsing the site while taking a break from working at home.

More people are also using cashless payment options including credit cards and its in-house LazWallet payment channel, as the company recorded a “two-times increase in use,” as people try to reduce physical interactions and prefer the convenience of online transactions.

The e-commerce platform’s digital bills payment service also saw a five-fold increase in use during the quarantine period.

“As we continue to observe safe physical distancing measures, Lazada foresees that this will continue to be on an upward trend as more people are looking for ways to source all their everyday essentials online,” the company said.

This weekend, Lazada is holding its nationwide Bounce Back sale until June 6, and while the usual sale promotions apply including free shipping vouchers and great deals, this sale will also allow customers to donate and “contribute towards the country’s fight against the spread of COVID-19 by purchasing items from participating brands,” according to a press release.

Among the participating brands are Colgate-Palmolive where for every P750 minimum spend, P50 will be donated to the beneficiaries of Lazada for Good; and Unilever Skin Sciences where every P1,000 minimum spend will lead to a donation of P50 to the beneficiaries of Lazada for Good.

In true Lazada sale fashion, the platform will also be hosting a two-hour livestream special featuring performances by KZ Tandingan, Ben&Ben, and Regine Velasquez-Alcasid. The special, which will be held on June 6 at 6 p.m., will also be giving away more than P200,000-worth of shopping vouchers.

Telecommunications company Globe Telecom, will also be joining the sale by giving discounts for its prepaid SIM cards and select phones. Digital payment channel PayMaya is also giving a 10% discount voucher for a minimum spend of P1,200 on Lazada. — Zsarlene B. Chua