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Editorial | Buying online, taking the risk

The Internet has changed the way we do things, including how we shop. Shopping online has become a very convenient way to get this chore done compared to the conventional way of braving the traffic to go to groceries or malls. Almost everything can be bought online and there is a vast array of items and products to choose from, including price comparison from different online shops, all in the comfort of the home, office or just about anywhere if one is connected to the internet.

While many consumers find shopping online advantageous especially during holidays or in giving gifts to kith and kin – not to mention in this difficult time of Covid-19, there is a digital downside to this that we are all aware of but succumb to, anyway. Scams abound and many do fall prey to unscrupulous internet predators.

The Internet World Stats showed that in January 2018, there were around 67 million Filipinos active only, a 12% increase year-on-year. It also ranked the country first in the world in the use of social media, including the amount spent online. This is therefore seen as a lucrative market for e-commerce.

Statista, an online portal for statistics including market research, said the country’s e-commerce market revenue grew to $840 million or about P44 trillion in 2018 from $688 million or about P36 trillion in 2017. It is further expected to grow about 10.5% annually leading to a market volume of $996 million dollars or about P53 trillion pesos by 2019.

Shopping online is no laughing matter based on these reports. With the number of online shops sprouting even of Facebook, how can government track them for taxes and consumer protection? Some accounts have been pulled out from social media but it is just so easy to create another account. Unless the seller himself chose to register the business, there will be a good number of illegal businesses proliferating in the world wide web. This is an issue the country has to deal with urgently.

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