Back when the world was still functioning without any restrictions on who can go out, people of all ages enjoyed going to malls, stores and outlets to shop. They would spend hours browsing through racks and piles of items to find the ideal purchase to take home.
That changed in early 2020 when the COVID-19 virus struck, causing people to be confined in their homes for their safety against the global pandemic.
Yet being stuck indoors didn’t stop people from shopping for their favorite brands or acquiring new items. Thanks to the internet and various e-commerce platforms, Filipinos can enjoy shopping with just a few clicks.
In the Philippines, several e-commerce platforms offer a variety of goods that range from cosmetics, clothes, food, household items, and more. Through these sites, people have found items they needed or didn’t know they needed.
Online shopping has already been around even before the COVID-19 pandemic shifted everything into a different dynamic. But without any restrictions, not many people were inclined to use the service, especially since many people are skeptical about the internet.
Now, many Filipinos are frequent users of e-commerce sites and participate in the events and contests that it hosts such as monthly sales that catch the attention of numerous consumers.
The pros and cons of e-commerce
Simply put, e-commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet. Popular e-commerce platforms around the world include Amazon and eBay, while most Filipinos are familiar with Shopee, Lazada and Zalora.
But because it relies on the internet, not many Filipinos were eager to try out this new method of shopping. This stems from their fear of being scammed into giving personal details and losing money to suspicious websites.
Eventually, they learned to overcome this fear, especially since their options have become limited due to the pandemic. Online shopping has also become a coping mechanism for others who find comfort through retail therapy.
From 2020 to 2021, there has been a significant rise in the number of e-commerce users in the Philippines, presenting the benefits that people from both ends of the platform can enjoy.
In e-commerce users, for both consumers and sellers, the top reason why they use such platforms is that they have the benefit of buying and selling items without having to leave their houses to travel to physical stores. And compared to items in physical stores, many items found on e-commerce websites are significantly more affordable, thus enticing more buyers.
Consumers are also given a wider selection of items to choose from. E-commerce websites close the geographical gap between the availability of items to consumers in select areas.
However, the downside to this arrangement is that buyers can’t personally inspect an item before purchasing, thus giving them a sense of uneasiness on whether or not their purchase is worth it. Sellers, on the other hand, are required to disclose all the information about an item to avoid any misunderstandings that often happen in online spaces.
Using e-commerce platforms also generates income for delivery services that serve as the bridge between buyer and seller. Although this keeps more people from going outside of their houses to buy items themselves, it requires more time and patience because delivery usually takes some time before it reaches consumers.
And since delivery services have to brave the open roads to fulfill their tasks, there’s no telling what would happen to items during transit.
The pros of e-commerce, or online shopping, are evident in its accessibility and the opportunities it presents to buyers, sellers, and even services in the middle. On the other hand, its cons can also be easily avoided by asking the right questions, full disclosures, and proper handling from the consumer, seller, and delivery services, respectively.
How it can be improved
While many Filipinos have already started leveraging the power of e-commerce sites, there are still those who face certain roadblocks when it comes to accessing these platforms.
The first problem is with the internet connection. It is no secret that the Philippines lags behind its Asian neighborhoods when it comes to an internet connection. The internet has become important to the modern world, as having limited to no access to it hinders the progress of many.
A solution to this comes from the government and telecommunication companies. They can establish more telecommunication towers that provide a signal to far areas so that more people could have access to the internet and e-commerce sites.
Having more telecommunication towers also allow for faster internet speed so users can have a better browsing experience.
But aside from having the government and private sectors weigh in on the improvement of e-commerce, the platforms themselves should also contribute to the development of their operations.
One example is by establishing easily accessible customer service hotlines to answer concerns from buyers, sellers, and even delivery services. Having a team that promptly addresses questions or problems can generate more users who find the site trustworthy.
E-commerce platforms can also invest in new technology that could make the shopping experience easier and more relatable to many users in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic put the world to an abrupt stop, causing people to refrain from going out and doing things they enjoy, such as shopping. But thanks to the rise of technology and the internet, there are solutions available to every person’s needs.
E-commerce sites have helped people in numerous ways. It has also aided in keeping trade and the Philippine economy afloat because the people have taken their usual transactions into an online space where they can leverage the power of technology.
For those who are looking for a quick retail therapy session or a source of extra income, they can turn to e-commerce and harness its potential. Through these platforms, they can get their money’s worth and find new opportunities accessible only in the online space.
But like most things, online shopping and selling should be done with caution. Although e-commerce platforms and other services have established themselves to become credible brands, there’s no harm in being careful with sharing private information with others.