Mobile Only: The Future Of E-commerce Has Arrived

Mobile purchases in the Philippines are now more than two (2x) times higher than those on desktops

The State of Online Shoppers 2021/22 – The Philippines & the SEA Region: Part I

As the digital economy in the Philippines continues its rapid growth, e-commerce is becoming an integral part of life. To understand the evolution of the region’s online shoppers’ habits, every three (3) to five (5) years iPrice conducts a study of online consumer behaviour. The most recent study — “The State of Online Shoppers in Southeast Asia 2021/22” — is based on data from 125 million unique users on iPrice Group websites supporting e-commerce across six (6) key SEA markets (Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand , Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore). Data were collected from 1 January 2021 to 30 April 2022.

Over the next month, iPrice will be sharing a series of insights from the 2021/22 study, looking at the changes in online consumer behavior in the Philippines and across the SEA region. The most recent study traces the impact on online shoppers of the rapid rollout of mobile broadband networks and the continued development of smartphones.

In this first article, we will share three (3) key insights which signal the rapid shift in the Philippines’ & the region’s e-commerce towards a “mobile only” world. In it, we see the widespread acceptance of mobile transactions and where desktop still has a role to play in e-commerce.

1. Consumers Prefer Buying on Mobile

In “The State of Online Shoppers 2016/17”, we observed a high level of mobile usage but a strong preference for making purchases via desktops in the Philippines. Five (5) years ago, consumers were much more likely to buy online via their desktop computers than using their mobile devices.

Times have changed – and so have consumer preferences. Today, online shopping in the Philippines and most Southeast Asian markets has shifted to smaller devices. Overall, mobile purchases in SEA are now almost two (2x) times higher than those on desktops. On average, 5% of visitors to iPrice site via a mobile device end in a transaction, compared to only 3% of visitors using a desktop.

“Mobile purchases in the Philippines are now more than two (2x) times higher than those on desktops”

  SoSS 2022 PH Focus

We can point to several macro trends which have driven this shift:

  • 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.
  • E-commerce providers have optimized their websites for smaller devices and launched mobile apps for an improved customer experience.
  • Online stores have invested heavily in marketing initiatives to encourage mobile purchases. Some e-commerce players drive users to mobile via exclusive e-wallet features not available to desktop users, whilst others offer exclusive coupons to mobile users or discounts for first-time purchases via handheld devices.

SoSS 2022 Mobile-Conv Rate

Vietnam is the exception to this trend in the region. In this market, customers browse heavily on mobile, but still prefer to make the final purchase on desktop. We hypothesise consumer browsing patterns and relatively underdeveloped mobile platforms explaining this behaviour.

Most Vietnamese online shoppers appear to be actively browsing during work hours and are therefore more likely to be using their office desktops to complete their purchases.

Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, the push for mobile adoption is not as aggressive in Vietnam. Several popular merchants, such as The Gioi Di Dong and FPT, do not have mobile apps. Users can still access the e-commerce store via mobile, but many turn to the desktop version, where the larger screen allows for a more comfortable browsing and buying experience. On the desktop, consumers have a comprehensive view of information, such as product specifications and payment details, which creates more confidence in the purchase.

SoS 2022-Device Traffic Share

2. Desktop – Still A Role in E-commerce

Online shoppers in SEA are comfortable on mobile, desktop still plays a key role in e-commerce, especially in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, where device penetration is high.

In these markets, online shoppers show hybrid browsing and buying patterns, moving across multiple platforms as they transition through the purchase funnel (Awareness, Research, 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
  • 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.

Detailed product guides are effective in attracting customers during the awareness and research stage. Email marketing campaigns and remarketing can be effective checking in converting those who have added products to their cart without out.

The State of Online Shoppers in Southeast Asia 2021/22: Part II

“The State of Online Shoppers in Southeast Asia”, produced by iPrice every three (3) to five (5) years, provides an overview of macro trends in online consumer behavior across the region’s e-commerce markets. In the 2021/2022 study, we have seen a strong move to mobile-only e-commerce. Whilst mobile dominates the e-commerce landscape, the study shows desktops still have a role to play in the early phases of the customer journey with consumers switching between devices as they move through the purchase funnel.

In our next report on “The State of Online Shoppers in Southeast Asia – 2021/2022”, we will take a deeper look at the purchase data to reveal which country’s shoppers spend the most, and when they’re spending it. From average basket sizes to the most popular times to make purchases, we will reveal the shopping behavior of today’s e-commerce consumers.


About iPrice Group

iPrice Group is Southeast Asia’s leading online shopping companion, serving more than 125m unique users across seven countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, & Hong Kong. With a mission to “Help People Save Money”, iPrice aids shoppers by comparing prices, promotions & seller discounts across its vast catalog of 7.5bn+ offers from thousands of sellers & merchants.

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