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How online sellers deal with e-commerce challenges in Phl

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

Admit it or not, even before the pandemic, online shopping has been adopted by many Filipinos for so many reasons. One of them is the convenience it provides such as pick, click, and go to cart and pay. It also saves time and the hassle of queueing and dealing with the traffic.

It is also interesting to note that e-commerce in the Philippines tracked 75 percent of Filipinos shopping online in 2019 and with the scaling down of the brick-and-mortar stores, and adaption of many companies even retail giants in the country signals that online shopping is the new normal now and e-commerce is here to stay.

As the industry grows, competition inevitably grows proportionately as many players see opportunities in the e-commerce platform being cost-efficient, convenient, and has a wider reach of the market. However, many entrepreneurs still find it challenging on how they can draw more customers and what strategy they can use.

Ninja VanPhilippines, together with market research firm Milieu Insight, 600 Social Commerce sellers across six countries – Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam – were surveyed in November 2023. Social commerce takes place in social-first, commerce-second platforms that disrupt the usual consumer journey by letting it unfold in a social environment – such as TikTok Shop.

The analysis of the survey results finds that Social Commerce sellers face the same operational challenges as anyone selling on other online platforms. However, Social Commerce presents entirely new challenges for sellers wishing to harness this platform’s potential for business growth.

Sellers turn to Social Commerce platforms for their already captive audience, allowing them to reach more audiences. Despite this, Filipino sellers remain challenged in creating effective content as well as chasing the ever-changing and often elusive platform algorithms.

Almost half (46%) of surveyed Filipino Social Commerce sellers struggle to create and curate content for their pages – a trend reflected across the region.

41%, meanwhile, find it challenging to stay on top of the platform’s algorithms, and therefore, are unable to fully capitalize on the platform to stand out.

This section, slide 19 of 36, covers all challenges that Social Commerce sellers face.

Despite these pain points, Social Commerce remains crucial for sellers.

Spotlight on The Philippines

In the Philippines, sellers take advantage of Social Commerce platforms’ ability to reach more customers by selling around three different categories of products. The top product categories sold by these Social Commerce sellers are Food and Beverage, Fashion, and Beauty or Personal Care.

Compared to the other markets, more Filipino sellers say that Social Commerce allows them to quickly find out if products will be successful or not. This demonstrates Social Commerce platforms’ ability to capture audience interest in products not solely based on sales alone, but also on reach and engagement of product-related content.

However, Filipino Social Commerce sellers also find it hard to stand out in this space – highlighting that Social Commerce is just as challenging as selling on other platforms.

“On top of the quantitative survey conducted with Milieu Insight, we also consulted some of our Social Commerce sellers to find out how they tackle these challenges. By consolidating these insights and solutions into this white paper, we hope to equip sellers for a more adept navigation of Social Commerce,” says Sabina Lopez-Vergara, Chief Commercial Officer, Ninja Van Philippines.

Winston Seow, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Ninja Van Group, adds: “The process of uncovering challenges that Social Commerce sellers face not only enables us to refine our existing tools, like our suite of digital solutions, but it also helps us to add new tools to our toolbox, such as our suite of full-funnel marketing solutions, for sellers who wish to sell better.”

Ninja Van Group entered Southeast Asia a decade ago during the early stages of the e-commerce scene’s development, securing a strategic position to observe its evolution. Building on this long-standing presence, Ninja Van Group leverages this unique vantage point to support sellers beyond logistics, fostering a robust e-commerce environment in the region.

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