Online shopping clicks with Filipinos as sales hit P8-B in 2012

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Feb 06 2013 06:20 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2013 02:29 AM

A box from is pictured in Golden, Colorado in this file photo. Photo by Reuters

MANILA, Philippines - Online shopping is clicking with more Filipinos, who bought an estimated P8 billion worth of products and services on the internet in 2012.

Ranjit Basi, BPI senior manager for debit and prepaid cards, said online shopping is growing in popularity in the country.

"We are projecting that in 2012, online shopping reached P8 billion in sales and over millions of transactions whether for airline tickets, booking hotels or group buying sites for irresistible deals," she said on ANC's personal finance show On The Money.

What do Filipinos buy online? Basi said online shopping is mostly driven by airline fares and hotel bookings, perhaps with the popularity of budget airlines' promo deals.

"But when it comes to transaction quantity, it is driven by apps for your tablets and gadgets, and music," she said.

Filipinos are shopping online not just for convenience, but also for the good deals offered on websites, especially group buying sites like Groupon.

"Online discounts really do translate to good deals but we always say read the fine print and make sure that you impute the cost of taxes and delivery before buying based on the price indicated on the deal. That way you can make sure you get a good price," Basi said.

Credit card vs prepaid card

At least 80% of the online transactions are done using credit cards. But Basi noted prepaid cards and "e-commerce" cards can also be used when shopping online.

"Anyone can get a prepaid card from any bank, you can load it so you can shop online...You can use a prepaid card virtually anywhere credit cards are accepted," Basi said.

For those who already have credit cards, Basi said they can ask their bank for a "companion card" that can be solely used for online shopping.

"These companion cards can be solely used for online shopping. You can assign a smaller limit to the card, like P5,000 for the virtual or e-commerce card. It protects you as a consumer," she said.

Unlike credit cards which usually have annual fees, the prepaid card typically requires a one-time processing fee.

Tips before you click 'buy'

Basi offered some tips on how to choose legitimate sites when shopping online.

1. Make sure the site is encrypted
- look for the padlock on the right side of the address bar
- the URL has to be https, not http

2. Do research
- Ask friends who shop online for the sites they trust
- Go online and check for news items on transaction sites