The Philippines’ slow internet speeds hampering online retail growth

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(Source:  Inside Retail Philippines | August 16, 2017)

The Philippines’ slow internet speeds are restricting growth in the online shopping sector, according to Philippine Retail Association president Paul Santos.

Despite the country having a mobile penetration rate of 170 per cent, online is accounting for a mere 1 to 2 per cent of Philippine retail sales.

Rustans Supercenters CEO Irwin Lee agrees: “We have a lot of people (here) with mobile phones, internet speed is quite low. You want to do online shopping but you lose the signal or WiFi does not carry through,” Lee told ABS-CBN News.

Santos says another reason for lagging e-commerce growth is the “deeply-rooted” mall culture in the country, with shopping centers a place to hang out with friends and family as well as to shop. Shopping centers have become “the defacto public space”, especially in high-density urban areas.

“Developers are integrating shopping centers even more deeply in your life,” he said.

While physical stores won’t be disappearing any time soon, Lee says retailers have to adapt to the new online world.

“You want to be where the shopper is. If the shopper wants an online experience then we have to go there,” Lee said. He urges Philippine retailers to upgrade physical stores to include technology which brings together online and offline shopping.