Men on motorcycles
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2017 - 4:00pm

Sometimes one would come in the morning and another in the afternoon. There was a time when three different men knocked on my gate for three days in a row. I get so giddy waiting for them.

They come so often it’s not surprising to see a motorcycle parked outside my place, never mind that it’s so concealed in the labyrinthine and jungle-like residential area where I live.

I’ve memorized their faces and their full battle gear. One has jet-black gloves all the way to his elbows. One wears a metallic red helmet and one goes around with a huge yellow basket on the back of his motorcycle.

But no, I don’t have a harem of men on motorcycles.

The reason they go to my place often is that I order everything online — a two-piece white bikini, a little black dress, bags, a portable bidet, the diary of Anais Nin, a suitcase and many other stuff.

They are the delivery boys of many of the country’s last mile companies who bring all my orders right in the comfort of my own home.

And it’s all because I’ve embraced this amazing new world order. While I’m no techie, I swear by the convenience and thrill of e-commerce.  You can get anything in just a few clicks — no need to brave crowded malls or to crawl through horrendous traffic.

The other day, and just because the photo on Instagram looked so mouth-watering, I ordered home baked chocolate chip cookies from @heysugardough.  They tasted as good as they looked on the photos.

I’m so addicted to online shopping that there’s even a joke in our household that the reason Ayala acquired Zalora is that the company grew so big because of my orders. Even Ayala chief finance officer TG Limcaoco joked about it. He said that when he went to the Zalora office, he saw my name on the list of customers and that I was the second biggest.

That is not true, of course, but truth is I’ve really become so addicted to Zalora that I had to unsubscribe to their mailing list and request my bank to slash my credit card limit by more than half.

It’s like an addiction with no rehab.

And Zalora is just one company. I haven’t even explored the whole e-commerce universe.

Lettuce, too`

Soon, I might be ordering lettuce and other groceries too, online, thanks to Alibaba’s plan to bring its online grocery store to the Philippines.

Alibaba’s Lazada plans to bring to the country in the next 12 months or so its newly acquired Red Mart, an online grocery store in Singapore, Lazada’s top official told me in a recent interview.

This can happen within two to three years, said Inanc Balci, the 31-year old co-founder and CEO of Lazada whom I recently interviewed for Starweek.

With Red Mart, shoppers can just wait for their groceries at home, whether it’s broccoli, avocado or a head of fresh lettuce.

Lazada now has 24 million products in 14 categories and won’t stop expanding.

Amazon versus Alibaba

E-commerce in the Philippines will grow even bigger as both online giants Alibaba and Amazon race to expand in the Southeast Asian region.

The Philippines is one market they are both looking at.

Conglomerates

“E-commerce is not the future. This is the now. It is already happening,” he said.

Indeed, the online retail market now accounts for about five to six percent of the total retail market, from just one to two percent a few years ago and is rapidly growing.

Philippine conglomerates that have not embraced e-commerce will surely be left behind and will easily be knocked out by either Alibaba or Amazon.

Toys R’Us

This is what happened to Toys “R” Us, one of the world’s largest toy store chains.

The company went bankrupt, making it the latest casualty among brick-and-mortar retailers as it was unable to compete with Amazon.

Like Toys “R” Us, many retailers have closed shop and laid off tens of thousand of workers as they were unable to compete with e-commerce.

The downside

The other day, I asked my mother if I could borrow her credit card. As I mentioned earlier, I had asked my bank to slash my limit in a bid to curb my online shopping addiction, something I now regret.

I saw a pair of sunglasses with flower power vibe on Amazon’s Shopbob, another favorite online shopping site. And it was on sale.

But my mother said she would never use her card for online purchases for fear that it might be hacked. So I bid the flower power sunglasses goodbye.

Her concerns are valid.  Online shopping has its downside. Fraud, late deliveries and even fake products are just some of the horror stories.

But for me, the advantages of e-commerce outweigh the risk. I used to be an atheist but I’m a believer now.

As Globe’s Ernest Cu said, people shouldn’t be afraid of technology.

“Technology is here to make lives better,” Cu said when I visited him recently in his swanky office at BGC.

I agree.  And my favorite men on motorcycles are testaments of that.

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