The Philippine unit of Southeast Asian digital marketplace Lazada is the country’s most popular e-commerce platform across a majority of metrics, but a new competitor has emerged as a noteworthy second.
In the latest report by the iPrice Group, a Malaysian online shopping aggregator behind price comparison website iPrice.ph, Lazada maintained a wide lead over its competitors in terms of search interest and social media presence. iPrice added that in the first quarter of 2017, Lazada “hit a record high 91 percent in Philippine e-commerce market share.”
Using data from Google Trends, the study showed that Lazada had the highest search interest throughout 2017, which meant that online Filipino shoppers were consistently searching for the term “Lazada” over other e-commerce brands. This search interest hit notable peaks during Lazada’s various online sales throughout the year, which included its birthday sale in March and its “Online Revolution” campaign that ran in November and December.
As well, Lazada had the biggest social media community among e-commerce platforms, with over 6.6 million likes on its Facebook page according to data from Socialbakers. For iPrice, this is critical for Lazada’s sustained lead, as “social commerce or sales driven by social media is expected to also increase in Southeast Asia over the coming years,” it wrote in the study, citing the expected significant increase in mobile internet usage across the region forecast by Google and Temasek.
However, in terms of the leading shopping apps in both major mobile stores, Lazada doesn’t have the same clear-cut lead. These rankings take into account several metrics such as the number of downloads, frequency of downloads, app ratings and more. While it remained as the highest-ranking mobile shopping app on the Google Play store throughout the year, it dropped to No. 2 in Q3 and Q4 2017 in the Apple App Store, being overtaken by a newer player in Shopee.
Shopee, the digital commerce arm of Singapore-based technology firm Sea Ltd., launched its platform in 2015, three years after Lazada started its operations. However, iPrice’s data shows that in that short time, iPrice noted that Shopee “emerged as the fastest growing e-commerce [platform]” in the market.
By the latter half of the year, it ranked second in search interest, overtaking fashion e-commerce site and Lazada sister company Zalora. Like Lazada, it experienced a surge in searches when it held a sale last September. Along with other platforms, it also experienced spikes in search interest last November 11, the so-called Singles’ Day that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has turned into a large-scale event that many platforms have jumped on.
Shopee was also at second place in terms of its average rankings in both Apple’s and Google’s mobile app stores, and as mentioned, it overtook Lazada in the Apple Store during the last half of the year. In an interview with Entrepreneur Philippines last November, Terence Pang, COO of Shopee, revealed that the platform’s mobile app has been downloaded over six million times since it launched two years ago.
iPrice also highlighted several local e-commerce players that placed within the top five of the study’s reported metrics. BeautyMNL, an online cosmetics retailer, consistently placed within the top five highest ranked shopping apps in the Apple App Store and ranked No. 4 in the Google Play store in the last quarter of 2017. Kimstore, which focuses on gadgets and electronics, was the fifth most searched e-commerce platform in 2017 and had the second highest number of Facebook likes with 2.5 million. And Goods.PH, which carries a wide variety of products, was in the top five of the highest ranked Google Play shopping apps for two quarters and had the fourth largest Facebook community with 1.4 million likes.
The continued popularity of these players in the country further highlights the explosive growth forecast for the local e-commerce industry. Local e-commerce sales were projected to hit $1.2 billion in 2017, and a Google study projected that this would more than triple to $4 billion in 2020. For established brands such as Lazada and Shopee, that presents a massive opportunity for business growth in an increasingly digital-centric country.
Lorenzo Kyle Subido is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH