If you’re a young and unattached Filipino and you find yourself online on the biggest digital commerce day for singles around the world, what will you buy? Comfort food and electronics, it turns out.

Young, single, urban Pinoys trooped to various online shopping sites to splurge on canned food, power banks, and Bluetooth speakers, among others, during Singles’ Day last November 11, widely acknowledged to be one of the biggest sale events around the world, data from technology company Voyager Innovations showed.

Spam, a popular brand of processed luncheon meat, emerged as the most purchased item by Filipinos during Singles’ Day from Takatack, Voyager’s online shopping discovery platform, which ran a “Hugot Week” promotion offering huge discounts in celebration of the global shopping event.

Coming in at a close second was a high-powered Jaguar Power Bank used to charge electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets. Of the top twenty items bought from the online shopping marketplace, more than half were composed of electronics items, while the rest were imported canned food items.

“This is the first time that Takatack ran a promotion in conjunction with Singles’ Day, and we were really overwhelmed, if not a little amused, by the reception of Filipino online shoppers. Our young people are also a practical bunch as they spotted the best buys in preparation for the holidays,” said Marc Concio, head for Digital Commerce at Voyager Innovations.

Young, professional, and mobile

On November 11, majority of the transactions carried out using PayMaya, Voyager’s digital payments service, were from users who belonged to the “millennial” category–or those aged between 18 and 34 years old. At least 80% of these transactions, in addition, were online purchases.

For PayMaya, the top payments destination on Singles’ Day was Lazada, one of the biggest online marketplaces in the country, which held an “Online Revolution” event from November 9 to 11. PayMaya partnered with Lazada to offer a 20% discount on purchases, on top of an 11% rebate for all PayMaya transactions on Singles’ Day itself.

“Millennials are the driving force behind the digital revolution, and this crazy demand for online goods and services on Singles’ Day is yet another indication of that phenomenon,” explained Raymund Villanueva, PayMaya issuing head for PayMaya Philippines. “Making financial services such as payments, especially the ability to pay online without a credit card, more accessible to Filipinos is making digital commerce grow faster like never before.”

Aside from Lazada, Singles’ Day shoppers spent their money through various digital services (iTunes, Google Play), freelance ventures (PayPal, Facebook), digital games (Steam, Valve), travel (airlines), fashion (Zalora), and groceries (brick and mortar supermarkets).

Growing digital economy

Singles’ Day likewise highlighted the power of mobile—as seven in 10 online transactions performed in Takatack were from mobile devices.

This may have also been fueled by free mobile internet access to online sites offered by platforms such as freenet, which gave Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers free data access to online shopping sites such as Lazada and Takatack and digital platforms such as PayMaya and Lendr.

“The growth of our platforms during the Singles’ Day event was phenomenal. Compared to the same period last year, PayMaya’s consumer business registered as much as a five-fold increase in transaction volumes while sales transactions from Takatack jumped by a massive 4,500% . But more than the traction of our platforms, it was a good occasion for industry players to have a single call to action to support collaborations that will benefit consumers and the whole digital commerce business chain,” said Orlando B. Vea, president and CEO at Voyager Innovations and PayMaya Philippines.

Innovating for emerging markets

Originating from China, Singles’ Day was established as a way for Chinese male and female individuals to celebrate being single, and it eventually turned into one of the biggest e-Commerce events anticipated annually the world over. However, the largely prepaid internet, unbanked, and uncarded market like the Philippines and other emerging countries outside of China make for unique challenges when it comes to digital.

“We’re not China so it’s a different flavor for Singles’ Day here. You can’t just copy the same playbook. What we are doing is to provide easier access to digital services—be it through sponsored data, payments, digital lending, and digital commerce. We see these developments as a positive indication of the growth of the digital economy in the Philippines, and a challenge for us to continue helping build the ecosystem to foster further growth in the years to come.”

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