Christmas time is one of the busiest seasons of the year for Filipinos. Schedules are booked not only with reunions and trips, but also with hours of shopping dedicated to discovering the perfect gifts for loved ones.
With the e-commerce boom of the last few years, buyers can access tons of information about a product before making a purchase. But how exactly does the average Filipino’s shop during the holidays? To what extent does digital play a role in this journey? And how can businesses capitalize on this?
A very mobile Christmas
According to Facebook’s 2019 Holiday Study, a majority of Filipinos do their Christmas shopping in November and December. But there are some outliers who push the task to as late as January, citing additional sale dates and more relaxed in-store ambiences as some of their reasons.
Regardless of the month, however, the role of mobile in shopping is increasing among consumers. There was a seven percent drop in the number of shoppers who made purchases in-store compared to last year. And for those who still prefer to go to physical shops, there’s still a touch of digital in their journey.
For instance, 73 percent of surveyed Filipinos said that they use their smartphones while shopping in-store, up 10 percent from 2018. Majority used them to access more information, comparing prices and alternatives and reading product reviews. There were those who browsed for coupons or discounts; some even ended up purchasing a product online from a different retailer.
John Rubio, country director for Facebook Philippines, says this all points to how tech-savvy Filipino shoppers have become. “The big thing I take away is significant growth year-on-year, which for me is interesting because… the Philippines from an Asia-Pacific perspective was always lagging for e-commerce.”
Keeping it personal
While more and more Filipinos may be turning to online shopping, they don’t expect it to be any less personal than the in-store experience. Buyers still expect retailers to be hands-on, with nine out of 10 saying that they’re more likely to buy from a business if they can reach out to them through online messaging.
The top reason for buyers for messaging is to get more details about a product. Actual product purchase comes in second, with order tracking and specifics naturally following.
In that sense, the online shopping experience is expected to be as holistic as its offline counterpart. “What we’re seeing is almost a bifurcation of usage. One is your town hall where you shout to everybody that you’re connected to… you do that in a public square format, which is feed,” said Rubio.
But beyond product discovery, the mobile experiences takes on a more intimate role as well. Consumers take to messaging platforms to engage with retailers, much in the same way they reach out to trusted friends for advice.
“What we’re seeing as almost equal, and from a velocity perspective maybe even more, is a more personal, living room-type conversation, [like the ones that] we have with our loved ones… Because we’re so used to messaging, this halo moves over to businesses that know how to message well.”
A core part of the new retail strategy
While in-store shopping may never completely disappear, the online component has certainly become more and more important over the years. Therefore, businesses of any size need to evaluate their purchase journey for their customers.
“Digital is not just becoming a larger portion to the question of the actual spend, but it’s becoming an intrinsic part of the journey from step one,” said Rubio. “I think businesses need to get prepared, and it needs to be a core part of their strategy, not just an exciting experiment.”