If you spent any amount of time shopping online for deals on running gear, you might have run across these three big websites advertising over Facebook and Instagram to us Philippines-based users: nike.com/PH, adidas.com.ph, and underarmour.com.ph. But just because they have “PH” in their URL doesn’t mean they’re the local distributor for these brands — or that they ship locally from a Philippine warehouse.
In fact, I can tell you from experience that these three websites and the marketing campaigns run for them are based out of Singapore, and they ship from Singapore. Not that you have to pay customs taxes and duties (you don’t), but it does impact user experience somewhat.
Here are some learnings from my last year shopping online due to coronavirus movement restrictions. You can watch below or scroll down for the written discussion.
Two Major Kinds of E-Commerce Website for Running/Athletic Gear
First things first: you’ll encounter two major kinds of e-commerce website for running and athletic gear when shopping from the Philippines. The first is what I’ve already discussed: international websites that ship out of a different country to us. Usually these are based out of a country (like Singapore or Hong Kong) that acts as a regional hub. It has the warehousing, customer service, and logistics to process your orders, and usually the marketing team that runs those Facebook campaigns is also based in the same country.
The second kind is websites run by the local distributors of your preferred athletic brand. This might be multi-brand stores like tobys.com and RUNNR.com.ph, or portals owned by the local distributor of a single brand like parkaccess.com.ph.
Pros and Cons of Shopping from an International Website
The main difficulty when shopping from a website that ships internationally is returns and refunds. I’m not sure if they have a local receiving hub to take your returns, because if not you’ll have to ship it back where it came from. (Most people simply just resell items from the international websites that don’t fit.)
Another problem is the supply chain, especially during this pandemic. For example earlier last year it took a few months for an adidas.com.ph order to get to me just because the supply chain from Singapore to the Philippines was shut down. That portal is still getting a huge number of complaints based on the comments on their Facebook page, so it seems like they still haven’t solved their logistical problem. That doesn’t seem to be the case for the two other websites I’ve named.
What I found to be the major advantages of shopping from the international websites: range of choices, and deep discounts. They will usually list in stock all the colourways available, and you might even get early access to products that haven’t hit local shores (which is what happened when I bought the Under Armour Sportsmask online a few months before the local UA stores started selling them). There are also some promotions where you get great deals on the pricing that you can’t find in local stores.
Pros and Cons of Shopping from the Local Distributor’s Website
Local distributors need to import their stock, which means dealing with customs and duties as well as warehousing. They need to project how many of what items will probably sell to their customers, so they are basically assuming some risk and shelling out before they even sell anything. This is why they have a more limited range available, and can’t do as many sales and discounts as the international websites.
However, this is also their advantage, because the items listed on their websites are definitely on hand and many can even do next-day delivery.
Which kind of website would I recommend people buy from?
I always take it on a a case-to-case basis and look at which is most advantageous to me as a buyer.
I don’t think anything can really replace the in-store experience and I definitely think there’s a lot of satisfaction from being able to pick something you can see. However, during these times online options are the next best thing. I just want people to be more informed about where their ordered items are coming from so they can address their concerns to the right places.