Mobile purchases in the Philippines and most Southeast Asian markets are nearly two times higher than those made on desktops, showing that e-commerce in the region is centered on smaller devices, according to a recent study by iPrice group, a Malaysia-based online shopping meta-search website.  

The State of Online Shoppers in Southeast Asia 2021/2022 also found that, on average, 5% of mobile visitors to the iPrice website end in a transaction, compared to only 3% of desktop visitors.  

“The rapid roll-out of mobile broadband, and a wider and more affordable range of internet-enabled mobile devices (smartphones / tablets), have made it easier for consumers to browse and buy online,” the aggregator said in its report.  

It also pointed out that e-commerce providers have now optimized their sites for smaller devices and launched mobile apps for improved customer experience. 

“Some e-commerce players drive users to mobile via exclusive e-wallet features not available to desktop users, whilst others offer coupons exclusive to mobile users or discounts for first-time purchases via handheld devices,” iPrice said. 

While Filipinos prefer to make mobile purchases, the desktop remains important in e-commerce due to high device penetration, according to iPrice.  

In the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, online shoppers show “hybrid browsing and buying patterns, moving across multiple platforms as they transition through the purchase funnel” from awareness to research to the decision to purchase: 

  • Product search and “casual browsing” via mobile during their daily commute;
  • Detailed research — product images, specifications, and price comparison — via desktops at work; and
  • Purchase via tablet at home in the evening.

“E-commerce companies track this user behavior to tailor and target their marketing strategies. From in-depth reviews to technical information and product specifications, content needs to be adapted according to the stage in the buying journey,” iPrice said.  

The study is based on data from 125 million unique users from 6 key SEA markets: Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. The data was collected from January 2021 to April 2022.  

A previous edition of the report conducted from 2016 to 2017, found that there was a high level of mobile usage in the Philippines but a strong preference for making purchases via desktops. — Brontë H. Lacsamana