When do the Philippines’ Top E-commerce Shopping Events Take Place?

JANIO
Hottest E-commerce Sales Periods in the Philippines

E-commerce in the Philippines may not be as mature as in Malaysia and Indonesia, but it actually has more potential than meets the eye. Some estimates show that online purchases make up a mere one percent of all sales in the country; Zalora places the figure at two percent. Despite this, Google predicts that the Philippines’ Internet economy will grow from US$5 billion in 2018 to US$21 billion by 2025.

A big part of this is e-commerce revenue, which is expected to grow at an annual rate of 9.5 percent—resulting in a market volume of US$1.394 billion by 2023. This is fueled by the Philippines’ large population of 104.9 million, second only in size to Indonesia within ASEAN.

Of these, around 71 percent are Internet users—and they are increasingly embracing e-commerce. In a Q2 and Q3 2018 survey by Global Web Index, cited in Hootsuite’s We Are Social 2019 report, 70 percent of respondents in the Philippines said they had purchased a product or service online in the past month.

For e-commerce merchants, the Philippines represents a huge potential market. It’s important, however, to understand both the commercial and cultural factors that drive Philippine online consumers.

The Philippines’ Major Online Shopping Days

Q4, especially the months of November and December, is the busiest shopping period in the country, as shown by decades of data on household consumption expenditure. This is the time when most employees receive their 13th-month pay, a paycheck typically equivalent to a month’s worth of salary.

Aside from the festive year-end season, Filipinos also make more purchases in the summer months of March, April, and May.

Of the country’s top 10 most visited websites, one e-commerce platform made the list—Lazada. According to iPrice Group, Lazada Philippines receives 32.82 million web visits a month, twice as many as that of its closest competitor, Shopee. However, Shopee is the top downloaded e-commerce app on both Android and iOS devices.

The leading product category for online shopping, according to Hootsuite, is Travel, which accounted for US$3.542 billion in e-commerce spending in 2018. Spending on Electronics & Physical Media totalled US$234 million, while Fashion & Beauty product spend reached $203 million.

Hootsuite's Philippine E-commerce Spend by Category Jan 2019

Online Revolution

The Online Revolution campaign is an adaptation of Lazada’s 11.11 sale extending all the way to 12.12. While the biggest deals are offered on 11.11 and 12.12, this event is a month-long sale.

Last year, Lazada put up 20 million product discounts on 11.11—equivalent to one-fourth of all products listed on the website. These deals included items sold for ₱1 only. On 12.12, they ran a Christmas deal special, with a section dedicated to gift items and gift baskets.

In a December 2018 survey by Picodi, a provider of e-commerce discounts, 91 percent of respondents said they intended to participate in the 12.12 sale. Gift-buying, whether for themselves or for others, was the main purpose of 65 percent of these shoppers. Top product categories were clothes, electronics, cosmetics, groceries, and footwear.

Philippines’ Long Shopping Seasons

Christmas

Christmas is a major deal in the Philippines and is undoubtedly the country’s biggest holiday. A Facebook Holiday Study revealed that Filipinos tend to spend an average of ₱17,000 during Christmas. Forty percent of mobile-first shoppers, however, will spend more than that amount.

The country is said to have one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world, with malls playing Christmas songs and advertisers, including Shopee and Lazada, beginning to tease promos as early as September.

The actual shopping, however, takes place in November and December. When local news publication Rappler surveyed their readers, they found that 55 percent identified December as the heaviest shopping month, while 24 percent chose November.

As an e-commerce merchant, that means you need not worry about missing the boat if you only begin your promotions in November. Unless, that is, your competitors have begun much earlier, or you want to beat the marketing noise by being one of the first on the scene.

Another factor that has spurred e-commerce participation during the Christmas season is vehicle traffic, which has become increasingly heavy in recent years.

Summer

The summer months of March, April, and May comprise another peak shopping season in the Philippines. This is the time when students in most schools go on summer break. This is also a peak period for domestic travel, especially during the long holiday during Holy Week.

Holy Week tends to take place in March or April, depending on the Catholic liturgical calendar. This year, it will run from April 14 to April 20. With Catholics making up more than 86 percent of the Philippine population, Holy Week is widely celebrated in the country through fasting, solemn processions, and religious rituals. Being a public holiday that takes place in the summer, though, it’s also considered an opportunity for Filipinos to travel to beach destinations and to the countryside.

During Holy Week and the summer months, Filipino online shoppers are most interested in apparel and home appliances, according to iPrice Group. Online merchants selling summer clothing, swimwear, and fashionable sunglasses and accessories can take advantage of this season by ramping up their marketing and promotion efforts.

Summer shopping generally peaks around Labor Day, when retailers take advantage of the last few days left before parents have to shell out money to pay their children’s tuition fees during the school enrollment period. Labor Day, which takes place on May 1, is also a public holiday in the Philippines. Lazada, for example, holds a Labor Day sale together with partners, such as banks.

Want to clear customs in Southeast Asian countries like a pro? Get our customs clearance guide to find out how!

Other Noteworthy E-Commerce Events

Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Although Thanksgiving is barely celebrated by locals, e-commerce giants like Lazada have brought the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to Philippine online shoppers. Taking place right after Thanksgiving—which is held on the fourth Thursday of November—Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer shoppers discounts.

These aren’t major shopping events, though, given their lack of cultural significance and their timing between Online Revolution and Christmas. But they still draw large volumes, as they typically take place on the weekend after the month-end payday. It’s also an opportunity for those who missed the Online Revolution to get their hands on good deals.

9.9 Shopee Super Shopping Day

Globally, Shopee achieved a record performance during 9.9 2018, with a total of 5.8 million orders. The three top-selling items in the Philippines during 9.9—a type of lipstick, a whitening soap bar, and an ultra SD card—were in the Health & Personal Care and Mobiles & Accessories categories. Home & Living also performed well.

Lazada Birthday Sale

Lazada’s Birthday Sale takes place from April 25 to April 27. Unfortunately, this event falls on what speakers of the Tagalog language call ‘petsa de peligro’, a term that translates to ‘day of danger’. This is because it comes just right before payday.

Don’t be quick to dismiss this event, though. Keep in mind that Lazada is the country’s biggest e-commerce platform. In 2017, search interest for Lazada increased during the birthday sale weekend. Also, Lazada Birthday Sale also falls right in the midst of summer, which is one of the Philippines’ peak shopping seasons. Online merchants who sell popular summer product categories, such as clothing and home appliances, can push promotions during this event.

To help you recap all of the hottest sales periods in Philippines, here’s a handy infographic:

Hottest E-commerce Sales Periods in the Philippines

Types of promotions merchants can run

Cashback

Consider getting onboard cashback and rewards platforms like ShopBack and Zap. These incentives don’t have to be large amounts. Cashback offers on ShopBack, for example, tend to be small in value but can add up if buyers make more purchases.

Product bundles

Offer bundles to improve product discoverability by including less popular items with a purchase top-selling products. The best bundles consist of items in the same product category—for example, cosmetics.

Coupon/voucher codes

Online merchants can sell coupon codes or voucher codes that give consumers access to product discounts. By selling these codes well in advance of a sale, you can more easily predict product demand. This will help you deal better with the perils of e-commerce delivery during the festive season.

Payday promos

Offer promotions during payday time. In the Philippines, most workers receive their salaries twice a month, on the 15th and 30th or 31st.

Keep in mind that salaries may sometimes come a day or two early. For instance, if the last day of the month falls on a Sunday, employees may receive their salaries two days earlier, on Friday.

Social media promos

Out of the 76 million Internet users in the Philippines, almost all use social media. So it’s no surprise that most merchants in the country prefer social media as an e-commerce platform. By running promos through social media—especially the two most popular networks, Facebook and YouTube—online merchants can target and reach Filpino online consumers.

Simple promos include discounts for those who ‘like’ your Facebook page or a freebie for the winner of an online quiz.

Know your market

The Philippines shares many things in common with other Southeast Asian countries, such as its Malay and Indonesian heritage, local groups with Chinese descent, and a vibrant Muslim community in its south. However, its long history of Spanish and American colonisation has also given it some cultural nuances that it may not share with most of its neighbours.

If you’re an online merchant in Southeast Asia, don’t be daunted by a market that you might not know or understand well. The key is to do research and to test out the response to your product. A flexible logistics setup, such as the use of cross-border shipping, will allow you to sell your goods in the Philippines without the commitment of opening a warehouse there.

Looking to ship throughout Southeast Asia? Contact us to find out how.

Interested in SEA’s hottest online sales periods? Find out more with our collection of blogposts:

Indonesia

Thailand

Malaysia

Vietnam

Singapore

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