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Pits and perils of social media shopping

Paul Chester U. See Assurance Partner , PwC Philippines 31 Aug 2018

For the third year in a row, the Philippines topped the global list in terms of social media usage. Thus, it’s no surprise the Philippine e-commerce landscape has grown exponentially.

According to the 2018 Global Digital suite of reports by United Kingdom-based consultancy We Are Social and social media management platform Hootsuite, there are 67 million accounts on Facebook (FB) in the Philippines, which is also equivalent to our total Internet users.

On the other hand, 10 million Filipinos are on Instagram.

On the average, netizens in the Philippines spend three hours and 57 minutes a day on the Internet.


Furthermore, Filipino consumers spent around $2.16 billion on online shopping in 2017. Lazada, which by far is the number one e-commerce site in the country according to aseanup.com, garners 67.8 million in monthly traffic.

The Philippines’ status as social media capital of the world paved the way for social commerce to prosper – from FB Marketplace to smaller online sellers in Instagram (IG).

So how did social commerce actually start? It spontaneously grew out of ordinary people like you and me – friends, relatives, celebrities, and social media influencers – posting things we like, have bought, or have experienced.

Social media platforms nowadays are visually engaging with all the flatlays (photos taken directly from above, usually arranged or styled on a flat surface), IG stories (related images and video content in a slideshow format, displayed in an arranged sequence and show up in followers’ feeds), and outfit-of-the-day shots (or OOTDs, showing what one is wearing).

These entice users to covet such for themselves. Businesses or entrepreneurs eventually found those clicks, likes, shoutouts, and recommendations to be a powerful tool in marketing products and services.

1. Not all online sellers are trustworthy.

However, this new medium or business model has flaws or hiccups. Not all online sellers are trustworthy. In fact, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP), the most number of walk-in complaints their Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) receives and investigates are those that involve online scams (e.g., online buying/selling, investment, pyramid). The Department of Justice also issued an advisory in 2015 on online shopping fraud.

From an accounting and tax standpoint, some of these sellers may not be reporting their true earnings and remitting the correct amount of taxes.

2. Our Internet speed isn’t really speedy.

The country’s fixed Internet speed of 15.2 megabits per second (mbps) is still sadly below the global average of 40.7 mbps, according to a speedtest report by Ookla. On the other hand, mobile Internet speed was at 13.5 mbps – still way below the global average of 21.3 mbps.

3. Data breaches still happen.

Despite strict data privacy laws and security measures being implemented, there are still data breaches. A recent example is that of Facebook, which has had one of the biggest and most publicized data breaches of the decade.
Some tips on social media shopping

• Research – Check reviews, reputation of seller as well as endorsers, recommendations from friends or relatives.

• Secure – Secure your passwords. Don’t just divulge private information and credit card details unless verified. Don’t shop using public computers and Internet connections.

• Provide honest feedback and reviews – This is your contribution to the public.

• Report – Report online scams to authorities to prevent those scammers from victimizing others. Gather evidence, such as screenshots.

But with all these risks, Filipino consumers can still enjoy the convenience and satisfaction one can get from social media shopping. We just have to be vigilant and know our rights.

This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

Contact us

Paul Chester U. See

Paul Chester U. See

Assurance Partner

Tel: +63 (2) 8459 3176

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